Here’s why you need an emergency fund of at least S$1,000 in case your dog gets sick.
Taking good care of your dog doesn’t stop at providing food, grooming, and training. When your pet falls ill, you need to be ready to afford treatment. Most Singaporean pet owners get caught off-guard by the cost of a sick dog. Unlike our superior human health care plans, most of our four legged friends incur full fees when the vet visits.
Before you even consider bringing a dog home, make sure you keep an emergency fund of at least S$1,000 in case your dog gets sick. Here’s what you can expect to spend on, and how much it will cost.
1. Pet Insurance Helps You Save Money in the Long Run
You can buy pet insurance in Singapore. The cost of not having pet insurance can run into the thousands. In the case of serious illnesses, such as cancer or kidney failure, the monthly cost of treatment and medication can run to well over S$2,000, depending on severity. This forces many owners to put their pets to sleep.
Other illnesses, such as heartworms, can come to well over S$800 by the end of the full course of treatment.
Buy the pet insurance. Doing so will make it easier for you to pay for treatments and prolong your pet’s life. You will invariably regret not doing so.
2. You Need Money Aside for Professional Pet Transport
You cannot, or will not, want to use your own car even if you have one. Consider what happens if your dog is vomiting, has uncontrolled diarrhea, or is bleeding (this can happen with some forms of cancer, if the tumour pushes through the skin).
Simply covering the inside of your car with towels or newspaper will not do the trick; the smell will linger, and any leftover fluids could be a real biohazard. We don’t need to tell you that you can forget about taxis helping you out, and busses or trains are just as impossible.
You’ll need a professional pet ambulance, which costs about S$80, and but the price can vary widely based on your location, the time, your dog’s breed, etc. The other alternative, calling your vet down to your home, can be even more expensive (sometimes as much as S$200 more).
Set aside money for this eventuality.
3. Supplies Make Up the Bulk of the Cost
Supplies such as as bandages, anti-septic, and wet wipes often become necessary with a sick dog. Post-surgery, for example, you will often need to secure sterile gauze to the wounds with fresh bandages; these are typically changed at least once a day, sometimes more if the bleeding is bad.
(Bonus tip from a veteran dog owner: instead of gauze, cut out the padded area of a tampon and use that. Tampons are more absorbent than most types of gauze.)
You can purchase these in bulk from the vet, but check if supplies like bandages would be cheaper at pharmacies like Guardian. If you have to get your supplies from places like these, use a cashback credit card, or one that specifically works with the store, to maximise any discounts.
A roll of bandages is about S$4.50, and for larger breeds of dogs you may need two rolls to secure all the gauze in place. That’s about S$9 per round of bandaging for a dog the size of a husky or labrador. That’s $56 a week for the bandages alone, not counting any medication like antiseptics (typically you’ll go through a S$15 tube every two weeks).
During the first few days, you should expect wastage (you may have to dump soiled bandages or gauze when you secure it wrongly, or your dog yanks it off).
4. Hospitalisation is Expensive But May Be Cheaper than Home Care
Before bearing the full cost of looking after your sick pet, talk to the vet about hospitalisation. Some clinics in Singapore, such as Amber Vet, have hospital stay options for pets. Your dog will be looked after by a proper nurse 24/7.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us to give you the exact cost of hospitalisation–it varies depending on your dog’s condition. However, you should be braced for sums of around S$300 per night.
While this sounds steep, you should factor it against the cost of caring for your sick dog yourself. If you don’t have the cash at hand, a low-interest personal loan like HSBC’s Personal Loan is available to you if you have a good credit rating.
5. You Suddenly Spend a Lot More on Food
If your dog ends up being allergic to something, or needs to go on a special diet, the cost of doggie meals can skyrocket in an instant. The standard recourse is the Science diet, which most vets will point you toward. But if that doesn’t work, prepare to take a financial hit.
Custom food preparations for dogs (shop around online) often drive up costs, and you could be paying up to S$10 a meal. Alternatively, you may have to switch to a pricier brand of dog food.
This is why–when first getting a dog–you should overestimate the cost of feeding it.
6. You May Need Pest Exterminators
If your dog has a serious flu problem, or you more than one furry pet and they’ve begun to share the issue, you may need pest control.
Fleas and ticks are a major nuisance. They can make your pets sick, and until you get rid of them permanently the incidents will recur. The problem is these bugs can hide anywhere – in carpets, electronics, sofas, etc. It’s every bit as bad as a cockroach or termite infestation.
This often means a special S$400+ visit from pest exterminators, who will have to “nuke” your house to clear out the ticks. If you want to stop this from happening, your only real hope is to react to the problem fast. A S$70 bottle of anti-flea shampoo may hurt, but it’s worse if you let the problem spread.
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.