Tag Archives: pets

Medical Costs for the Family Pet

Healthcare is expensive. There is a wide debate going on in the country about the best ways to go about making sure that people can receive affordable medical care for themselves and their families when it is needed. Even families with employer provided medical care insurance often struggle to meet the premium cost and the deductible and co payments required. Have you given a thought to how to pay for healthcare needs of your pet?

As we make our plans to bring a pet into the family, we often forget that it will depend on us to provide medical attention when needed. As we determine whether or not we can afford a pet, we budget for food, pet treats, grooming, vaccinations, spaying or neutering and routine yearly checkups. Few of us ever take into consideration that our new companion will become ill or need emergency surgery, just like any other member of the family.

The American Pet Products Association surveys pet owners in the US and found that pet dogs average three vet visits a year while cats were brought in an average of 2.4 times.

A staggering 12.2 billion dollars is expected to be paid out this year as pet owner seek out veterinary services to keep their animal friends happy. Of course, this number includes horses that can be quite expensive if they need medical attention. But even pet birds can run up a surgical bill of several hundred dollars. The average feline surgery cost about $410 in 2010.

It’s estimated that pet owners will spend an average of about $11,000 on pet needs during its lifetime. A single mom who is contemplating adopting a pet has to do some serious thinking about the financial responsibility she is adding to the family needs.

It’s hard to put a financial value on a pet. They give love, loyalty and companionship. A pet can also relieve stress. Even a fish in a bowl has a calming effect on the person who takes the time to watch it swim.

Owning a pet is a big responsibility. Before bringing a pet into the home, make sure that you are willing to take on the commitment of not only day to day care, but for unexpected emergencies.

Pets Don’t Live Forever

A family pet can mean companionship and love. A home with both children and pets can be a rewarding experience for the single mom as she sees the bonds grow between her child and the animal. The child learns responsibility while caring for the well chosen pet, and it seems to be a winning proposition for all.

We don’t tend to enter relationships thinking about death, but in some cases discussing the eventuality just makes sense. Some types of pets have longer life spans than others. While many dogs and cats may be around for over a decade, pets like goldfish and hamsters have a shorter life expectancy. If the child does not understand and accept death, the loss of a beloved pet may be devastating and confusing.

During the process of choosing the ideal pet to bring into the home, the life expectancy of the potential additions should be discussed at some point. It should be done in a matter of fact manner. The short life expectancy of a goldfish doesn’t mean that it is not the best fit with your family. There is no guarantee on the duration of the life of any living thing, after all.

If and when a pet dies, break the news to your family gently, as you would break any other bad news. Be understanding of the child’s grief, and try to answer questions in a way the child understands. Don’t minimize the child’s sense of loss by playing down the importance of the loss of the life. The pet wasn’t “just a hamster”; it was an important part of the home. Bonds are made with pets, no matter if the pet lives in a cage, a bowl of water, or has the run of the house.

Don’t lie to the child. Sooner or later, he will come to realize that his beloved dog or cat didn’t move to the farm. Telling the child that the pet ran away is not a good option, either, as the child may think that it means that the pet was unhappy living in your home. The child may also hold onto the hope that the pet will somehow find his way back home.

If your child has never experienced death of a loved one before, he may become frightened that others that he loves will be taken away from him. Let him voice his fears and respond to his questions with patience. Let the child share his own feelings of grief so that he knows that what he is feeling is normal.

If there are other pets in the home, keep in mind that animals, too, can recognize a loss. Watch out for any changes in behavior from them as well.


Deciding on a Pet

Pet ownership can be expensive, time consuming and labor intensive, but when the child asks for a pet, those are not arguments that the single mom can usually get away with using without a lot of continued pleading, arguing, and hurt feelings.

There is a good chance that the single mom had a pet as a child, because it’s estimated that approximately 90 percent of kids either have a pet or will have a pet while they are growing up. The right pet can give a special feeling of comfort and companionship. The wrong one can cause havoc.

There are benefits associated with children growing up in a home that has a pet. Children learn how to to be nurturing. In fact, kids with both pets and younger siblings spend more time taking care of their pets than they do the younger kids in the house, according to Dr. Melson of Purdue University.

Pets also provide the opportunity for the family to interact. Taking the dog for a walk, a game of Frisbee in the backyard with the dog, and even watching the cat’s antics after a catnip treat will bring the family closer as they share in the fun.

Once the single mom is open to bringing a pet into the home, the next step is choosing the right pet for her family. Space and time are usually the main factors in the choice. Dogs need more room to play in. Their care also takes up a lot of time. The smart single mom knows that the promises the kids make to take care of the dog will be quickly forgotten and she will be the one who has to feed and clean up after it.

Cats are easier to care for than dogs. In fact, as long as they have food, fresh water and a clean litter box, they are pretty much self reliant unless they decide they need some cuddling time. The downside is that cats can unintentionally scratch during a play session.

Fish don’t take up a lot of space. Aquariums and the assorted equipment can be expensive. A more frugal option would be a goldfish, which can live in a bowl without added equipment. Goldfish have been known to live for up to five years, but are very susceptible to tragic consequences if they are overfed.

For the single mom who doesn’t cringe at the idea of sharing her home with a rodent, hamsters or gerbils are an option for kids who want a tiny pet to cuddle. But, be aware that even a regularly cleaned cage can often smell.

There are many other types of animals that your children may want as pets, including ponies, snakes, ants and turtles. Before agreeing on an animal, the single mom has to know what she can afford in the way of caring for it, how much time the animal will need from her, and how the animal will interact with her family.