Today’s cost of living crunch means many pet owners are struggling to pay for pet care costs. Unfortunately, some are being forced to relinquish ownership of their precious fur family in an attempt to keep their heads above water.
Carolyn Press-McKenzie of animal shelter and PD Insurance (pd.co.nz) partner HUHA reports many of HUHA’s weekly requests are from families losing their homes, lifestyle blocks, businesses, jobs and even marriages due to the effects of COVID and rising living costs.
“Over the past few years, we’ve helped a number of individuals who are living in their car, some with children,” says Carolyn. “Sadly, these families seem overwhelmed, and due to their need to downsize they are surrendering their much-loved pets and farm animals for adoption.”
Planning, prevention and community are key
Carolyn advises that if pet parents are on a tight budget, organisation is key: “Vet bills are a prime reason people are having to give up their pets, so get pet insurance and then if an accident happens you have financial support. Also, make sure your pet is desexed. We are seeing so many litters coming into the shelter that families are not in a position to care for.”
Doggy daycare can be a big expense for working pet parents, but Carolyn suggests turning to your local community for support: “Network within your community for walking and playdates. You may build a relationship with someone who can pet-sit for you, and you for them."
“In communities there are often lonely people who aren’t able to afford a pet; asking them to help with yours may be a win/win scenario. Just make sure you set out clear guidelines between you so there are no misunderstandings around responsibilities and ownership.”
Consider true costs carefully before you commit
Dr Cath Watson, veterinarian and Chair of Healthy Pets NZ, also a PD Insurance partner, suggests anyone thinking of becoming a pet parent should consider the costs involved before they commit, bearing in mind the expected timeframe of a chosen pet’s life expectancy.
“Healthcare costs tend to go up with age, but a good diet and exercise along with pet insurance will help mitigate these costs and can be included in a budget,” Dr Watson says.
A healthy diet goes a long way
PD Insurance says healthy pets are happy pets that will likely visit the vet less over their life.
Dr Watson has these tips for cutting pet food costs without compromising health: “Feed pets a well-balanced diet that meets AFFCO standards, as a minimum, so they get all the nutrients they need. Premium brands may cost more upfront, but you can feed less due to the higher quality ingredients, so it lasts longer.”
“Dry biscuits are much cheaper than feeding wet food in any form and you can always add water to make a porridge. There’s no need to buy special treats but vegetables like carrots work well for dogs if you grow your own and have spare. If you want to use wet food, like pet roll, you can slice it thinly, bake it to remove the moisture and use dried pieces as treats.”
Reducing other costs can be simple
Other cost-saving tips from Healthy Pets NZ include making simple cat toys from household waste such as scrunched up paper on the end of a string, using bottle tops, toilet rolls or egg cartons to make puzzle toys with treats hidden inside, making a scratching post from an old piece of carpet, and buying pet bedding second hand.
Entertaining your dog doesn’t require expensive toys either. Dogs thrive on attention, so just taking the time to exercise both their body and mind by teaching them new tricks can be really beneficial. There are also lots of ideas online on how to make your own toys.
Dr Watson also says, “Health care is an essential cost of caring for our fur family. Spending time grooming them and paying attention to their normal behaviour, appetite, etc, will help you detect problems much earlier, and - just like us - the sooner you can act on a problem, the easier it usually is to resolve.”
“It is also important to make sure you are registered in advance with a veterinary clinic and keep up to date with preventative care like vaccinations, neutering, and flea and worm treatments. The cost of treatment is always higher than prevention. If your pet requires long term medication, talk to your vet about your financial concerns, as there may be alternatives you can consider.”
“Further, consider using an online vet consultation service when you’re just looking for advice and your normal veterinarian is not available to consult. This is safer and often cheaper than relying on Google or friends for advice and unknowingly purchasing expensive or inappropriate products.”
Read more about virtual vet consultations here and read about pet insurance vs savings here.
About PD Insurance (pd.co.nz)
pd.co.nz is a pet insurance specialist that offers low cost, high value pet insurance. The company’s goal is to empower pet parents to make easy, quick, care-based decisions around their pet’s health without worrying about cost. Unique to pd.co.nz is its month-to-month payment model whereby members aren’t locked into a contract, so they can cancel anytime without penalty.
The company is committed to a fast and fair claims service, aiming for resolution within two business days of receiving all documentation. As with all Badger International brands, the essence of the pd.co.nz customer service philosophy is Simplicity (in service delivery) and Soft Landings (a commitment to providing members a gentle landing in times of need).
Headquartered in Auckland, pd.co.nz employs a local team of animal lovers who provide support such as sales, marketing, and operations. The company is a division of Pacific International Insurance and wholly owned by Badger International NZ LP.
Recognising every animal deserves to be well cared for, pd.co.nz is a proud partner of New Zealand’s leading no-kill animal shelter Helping You Help Animals (HUHA), which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes hundreds of animals every year. It is also the Principal Partner of Healthy Pets New Zealand, a charity established in 1998 by the New Zealand Veterinary Association’s Companion Animal Branch to draw attention to the ‘big health and welfare issues of Kiwi pets’.
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