Linda Leitz: Meeting the financial needs of pets | Business

During the pandemic, many people have spent a lot more time at home. The social isolation and ability to be home more prompted an increase in adoptions from many animal shelters. There have been many reminders that pets are a long-term commitment. They’re also a financial commitment.

Feeding a pet is a very basic commitment. Veterinarians generally advocate feeding animals food that’s specific for them, not human food leftovers. Some pets — reptiles, for instance — will eat certain fresh fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. For our furry friends, there is a variety of good pet food designed specifically for them.

Like people, animals need health care. You’ll need to budget for an annual wellness exam. If you have a cat or dog, count on annual vaccinations. Even if you intend having your pet be an indoor pet, these annual shots are a good idea. Your four-legged friend could get out accidentally or another animal might come in your home and expose your pet to a condition that’s dangerous to you or them. To board an animal, up-to-date vaccinations are required by most facilities.

Also like people, even with good preventive care, your pet might get sick. They can get injured, develop a disease such as cancer and be subject to ailments that are specific to their breed. The medical expenses could be ongoing medications, surgery (which could cost $1,000 or more), or both.

Some people take the outlook that “it’s just an animal” and others feel like their pets are members of their family. There are ethical considerations in giving up a pet or euthanizing them for financial reasons, so it’s best to be prepared to pay for some reasonable health care. There are some companies that provide health insurance for pets. But you need to obtain it when the animal is healthy and generally not too old.

If you get a dog, consider getting some training, such as teaching them to go to the bathroom outside. You might be able to get some free online videos or find an inexpensive book. A training class can be a bit pricier, but can train the dog on other fronts and can also help socialize the dog with others. Cats are generally instinctive about using a litter box without training, but you need to buy a box and regularly replace the litter.

Besides regular care and feeding, you may need to pay to repair damage caused by pets that can be destructive. Dogs have been known to chew on things — shoes, electrical wires, furniture legs, to name a few — and cats send to sharpen their claws on furniture. (It’s generally believed that declawing cats is cruel, and it leaves them defenseless if the get outside.)

The costs of caring for your pet can add up, but you can’t put a price on the unconditional love and companionship they provide.

Linda Leitz is a certified financial planner. She can be reached at linda@peaceofmindfin.com.

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