Before you get a pet, there are some money habits that you need to pick up. And trust us, these are important to your pet's health.
Responsible pet owners look beyond the price of leashes and bowls. They’re prepared for anything from trips to the vet (and those are costly) to finding someone to look after their pet when they’re away.
Here is some wallet saving advice you urgently need if you’re planning to own a pet and be a responsible owner. Take heed, lest a single furry crisis wipes out your bank account:
1. Find out how much it eats before getting a pet
A German Shepherd or Siberian Husky will go through two cans of dog food (12 oz. cans) a day. That’s 62 cans per month, or about $310 on food alone. You also shouldn’t underestimate the cost of treats, which are expensive compared to human snacks – a packet of beef jerky with a dozen sticks can cost well over $12.
If the cost of food alone would exceed 10% of your monthly income, then you probably cannot afford to own a pet.
Verify feeding details with a relevant pet owner, if you are buying rather than adopting. Sellers have been known to downplay how much a pet truly consumes.
2. Buy pet insurance from the start
Diseases, such as cancer, requires expensive ultrasound scans and medicines for animals. And together with the doggie ambulance, the vet trips can go into the S$1000s easily.
For starters, an overstay in the hospital can already cost S$600.
So, unless you are rich enough that this kind of expense is insignificant, or if you don't mind getting a personal loan for medical emergencies, buy pet insurance. Skimping on it is a good way to save a few bucks a month, and lose thousands in the long run.
Remember, the odds of your pet never getting injured or sick over the 12 years of its life (for most dogs and cats) are slim. And when the final moments come, you might appreciate the option to buy it some extra time.
3. Set aside a pet fund for three months of expenses
Calculate how much you’re going to spend on your pet over the course of a month (remember to include insurance).
You should save enough for three months of pet care, and put it in a separate bank account. This will ensure that during a crisis (for example, if you lose your job or are ill and unable to work), your pet will not be neglected – it could mean the difference between having to give up your pet to a shelter, and being able to care for it until you are on your feet again.
4. Find out the cheapest way to transport your pet around
Remember that you cannot bring your pet on board most forms of public transport.
If you do not own private transport, you should be prepared for the price of a pet taxi.
On average, these range from $70 to $90 (round trip). Expect to pay this every time your pet needs a check-up or grooming. Some service providers may give you an occasional discount if you are a repeat customer.
There will also be occasions when you cannot transport the pet yourself, due to emergency reasons such as it being sick and cannot safely be moved. A pet ambulance will cost around $200 to $250, or more on odd hours.
With regard to emergency situations, always know your vet’s fees for a house call. It may be cheaper to pay the vet to come down than to pay for the ambulance trip.
5. If you travel frequently, work out the cost of pet sitters
While you may be able to get a neighbour or friend to watch your pet, it’s actually a bad idea unless they have similar pets of their own.
Pet sitting does not just mean playing with your pet while you’re gone – it includes details like making sure medication is taken, the environment is kept clean and the emergency procedures are in place.
Plenty of people have avoided professional pet sitting services, only to come back to expensive problems like a flea infestation. Or worse, a lawsuit from someone who got bitten while a friend walked your dog.
The cost of pet sitters varies tremendously, from $10 to over $30 per night. Get one that you trust, not the cheapest one, because the anxiety isn’t worth the savings.
In general, you can trust friends or neighbours for brief periods of pet care (if it’s one or two days away from your pet), but get a professional pet sitter for anything longer.
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