This is the time of year when many people decide to add a new pet to the family. While it is never a good idea to give a pet as a gift, if a family has made the decision together to welcome a new dog or cat into the home, it is wise to know going in how much having a pet is going to affect the pocketbook. Pet care is something that has a permanent place in the household monthly budget. The costs associated with pet ownership vary greatly, depending on the type and number of pets. Planning ahead is essential to ensure all routine expenses are accounted for, as well as the unexpected costs that may pop up from time to time.
VETERINARY CARE: Vet visits will be one of the biggest expenditures in the pet-care budget. Plan for regular checkups and vaccinations, as well as monthly heartworm and flea preventatives. And just like humans, pets also may need unexpected trips to the vet for an ailment or injury. Leave some room in the budget for them, as well. If a pet has a chronic health issue, he may need to take regular medication. Pet insurance may help with budgeting for vet expenses. There are many different plans, and factors for costs include age, breed and the overall health of a pet. Do the research to see if pet insurance is a good option.
FOOD: Food is an ongoing expense, but it’s not the place to try to cut costs. Avoid buying the cheapest food, as a poor diet may lead to paying more in the long run for vet care. In addition, if the food contains a lot of fillers, a pet may consume more of it to get the nutrition it needs, which equals to spending more after all. Remember to include costs for treats in the food budget.
GROOMING: Long-haired dogs require a trip to the groomer at least once every six weeks. If you have a longhaired breed, such as a Yorkie or Shih Tzu, and want to keep their hair long, these groomer visits can occur as often as once a week. Grooming costs an average of $20-$60 per pet, per visit. When budgeting this category, be sure to include the cost of brushes, combs, pet shampoo, pet toothpaste and other items that are needed for home maintenance between grooming appointments.
BOARDING, SITTING OR DAY CARE: Pets need care when the family is out of town. Vacation budgets should also include the costs of having someone tend to the pets.
TRAINING: Puppies and adult dogs alike can benefit from some basic training. This is an expense that should be included in the budget early on but would not be an ongoing cost.
ACCESSORIES: Plan to purchase items such as travel crates, kennels, pet toys, leashes, collars and food and water bowls. For cats, figure in the costs of litter, litter box, scoopers, etc.
Dec. 24: “It’s A Wrap” gift wrapping from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Clearview Mall, 4436 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. The Louisiana SPCA will be wrapping gifts for donations to The Heartworm Fund.
Through Dec. 27: During December, the Louisiana SPCA will offer half off the adoption fee for all adoptables. Regular adoption procedures apply.
Lost or found pets: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact info to email@example.com; in Jefferson Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com; and in St. Bernard Parish, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at email@example.com, www.animalrescueneworleans.org or call our recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.