Personal Finance Cost of Pet Ownership

Pets have always been a source of comfort and companionship, and the Covid-19 lockdown has encouraged more people to buy or adopt a dog or cat. Pets can, however, be more expensive than you expect. Just like members of the human family, they fall ill, get into fights, injure themselves, require exercise and grooming, and can be picky eaters.

Becoming a pet parent can be expensive, so plan ahead to ensure you can manage the costs, advises JustMoney.

With World Animal Day having taken place on 4 October, and National Cat Day on 29 October, personal finance website JustMoney.co.za examines the cost of keeping your fur child healthy and happy.

“It’s natural to fall in love with an adorable kitten or puppy, but before you decide to take a four-legged friend home, it’s important to be aware of the responsibilities and costs involved,” says JustMoney Marketing Manager, Shafeeka Anthony. “There are usually high initial expenses when you bring your baby home, followed by a long-term financial commitment.”

Anthony offers five tips for current and prospective pet owners:

  1. Do your homework: Buying a registered purebred animal, such as an English or French bulldog, pug, or King Charles Spaniel, can cost up to R70,000. You could easily spend another R10,000 in the initial months on vaccinations, deworming, sterilizing, microchipping, a bed or kennel, pet food, and tick and flea treatment. Some pets also require socialisation classes, and professional grooming and clipping.

In the case of a rescue animal, you will be assessed to ensure you can provide a good home, and will probably pay an adoption fee of around R1,000. This normally includes sterilisation, vaccination, and deworming, so you will have fewer initial costs.

  1. Build an emergency savings fund: Your pet may be perfectly healthy, but a bone might lodge in its throat, or it could be attacked by another animal while out for a walk. An unexpected vet bill will be a stark reminder that emergencies don’t wait until you have cash available. Big bills can come in at any time.

Financial experts suggest that you save three to six months’ salary to handle unexpected expenses. You want to avoid going into debt to cover your vet bills, possibly putting you under financial strain for months or even years.

3)      Consider pet insurance: It’s a good idea to check out pet insurance, which is underwritten by insurance companies. Your pet’s age, species, and breed, as well as where you live, will be taken into consideration. Compare several quotes so that you can choose a package that matches your needs.

·         Find out more about veterinary costs and how to choose the right cover.

4)      Read the fine print: People commonly make the mistake of assuming that pet insurance works in the same way as human medical insurance. In fact, veterinary hospitals do not submit claims on your pet’s behalf, nor are veterinary hospitals involved in the financial aspects of a claim.

Depending on your policy, you may have to pay an excess amount. If your pet is hospitalised, inform your insurance provider and check what they will cover, so that you are prepared for any costs you may personally incur.

  • Read an article on how pet insurance differs from human medical aid.
  1. Get boarding back-up: While it’s easy to bond with your pet while working from home, you may spend more time apart as lockdown restrictions ease. More people are returning to offices, and embarking on business and leisure travel. As a pet owner, you may need to factor in the cost of doggy daycare, or a house-sitter or boarding kennel when you take a break.
  • Check out JustMoney Deals for special offers on weekend getaways, spa treatments, wine tastings and restaurant meals.

“Becoming a pet parent could be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make, but it’s important to be aware of the expenses involved,” says Anthony. “Educating yourself about the costs of pet ownership, and putting a plan in place, will prevent the heartbreak of being unable to afford veterinary treatment, or even having to give away a much-loved pet because you cannot afford to care for it properly.”

JustMoney understands that managing finances can be stressful, and has made the process easy, fast, safe and convenient. The JustMoney website offers helpful articles and tools relating to financial wellness, including credit and debt best practice, insurance, banking, tax and many other topics.

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