How to Keep Your Pets Healthy for Less Money – AARP


2 . Anticipate unexpected costs

Jan Valecka, a professed dog lover and a CFP at Valecka Wealth Management in Dallas, Texas, encourages her clients — including a retired woman with five dogs — to plan for expenses, especially if they’re living on a fixed income. Her estimate for one dog is $600 per year for food, treats and other items, and $800 for vet visits. You’ll also need to allow for  boarding if you travel   or are hospitalized.

Also, should your pet become injured, you may need to rush it to the vet. To cover these costs, make sure to have an adequate emergency fund, just as you do to pay for roof or car repairs. It’s best to avoid paying for these services with a credit card.

“Pets are often a significant cost when special circumstances like surgery occur, ” says David Demming, a CFP at Demming Financial in Aurora, Ohio. For one cat he knows, a hip replacement might have cost as much as $15, 000. “Fortunately, it was ‘only’ the $3, 000 surgery, ” he says.

3. Ask about pet food and services in food banks

Your local community may offer resources that will help cover costs. During the pandemic, the ASPCA began distributing food for dogs and cats through regular food banks to take advantage of the distribution infrastructure that was already in place. It offers such services in New York, New York; Los Angeles, California; and  Miami, Florida, and in Oklahoma for horses and other equines.

“We encourage pet owners to contact their local meals banks and animal shelters to learn more  about what resources, including pet food, supplies and/or medical care, that may be available, ” says Christa Chadwick, vice president of Shelter Services at the ASPCA.

Other nonprofits are also ready to help, as they strive to help people keep their animals, rather than having to surrender them to a shelter.  

GOODS, a program of the Seattle, Washington-based Greater Good Charities, distributes pet food and supplies to animal rescue partners in the U. S. and abroad. It sources and manages excess, rebranded, and short-dated food and supplies from donors, including manufacturers, distributors plus retailers. GOODS then makes them available to thousands of animal welfare organizations, food banks, Veteran Affairs locations and other qualified agencies.

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