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March 24, 2008


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I've also heard not to bathe your pet too often since it will rinse off the natural oils that provide your pet with defense against the elements.

At the risk of getting slammed for "advocating" credit on a personal finance site, a lot of veterinarians take CareCredit, a credit card for medical procedures. They almost always give one year, no interest. We used it for our horse. First $3,000 emergency colic surgery and then another several day hospital stay a year later. We didn't have the savings at the time to cover it and our other choice was to put her down which wasn't an option for us.

Although this avoids the topic of vet bills, I find the reason of "moving where pets aren't allowed" is very telling. If you're a renter, pets can become even MORE expensive - most landlords will charge more rent and/or ask for a deposit for pet damage, if they even allow larger pets (ie. not in a tank/cage).

This can be an especially big problem for seniors; when my mother prepared to move 1000 miles and downsize from a house to an apartment, she had a very hard time finding affordable housing because of her three cats. The few "adult communities" she looked at required hefty deposits PER animal, and at least one also required that all cats be declawed (aside from the ethical qualms, this would be an additional expense)! You can find affordable rental housing with pets, but it will take a lot more time and effort, and you may end up living in a less-desirable area.

We have 1 large dog, 2 cats, a cockateal and an aquarium. Vet bills for the mammals run $500/year. Food for all of them runs another $500/year. We had to fence the back yard for the dog. That was about $1000.

The dog gets walked twice a day, 2 miles each time, 365 days per year. A rain suit comes in handy. It cost over $100.

Now let me tell you how much my kids cost........

Good post! My fiancee is 3 years into getting her DVM and we discuss this all the time. One thing many people are upset about is the rising cost of Vet med, especially among younger vets. What customers don't necessarily see is the dramatic increase in the quality of care over the past 30 years. Consider, it was common practice to spay a cat by suspending it from a pole and just cut into it, using no pain control before, during, or after surgery. Horrible, bad medicine, and very cheap! Now, you have the vet, an anesthesiologist , and a tech for the same surgery with follow up meds and visits. Much more expensive, but considering what you get today it is a much better deal in my opinion.

One other note, I would highly recommend avoiding Cesar Millan as an authority on dog behavior. He is as much a dog trainer as Dr. Phil is a psychiatrist. Pop dog training if you will. I would highly recommend getting Sophia A. Yin's "How to Behave So Your Dog Behaves" from the library. She is one of the top authorities on normal and abnormal dog behavior and brings you up to speed on where dog behavior research is today. (Hint, dogs are not wolves!).

Good luck!

I'd get a dog from the pound. It may be a bit of a surprise what it turns into, but it is cheap and you are doing a good thing.

I'm a vet and a pet health blogger. Though my veterinary practice (in Miami) hasn't yet been affected by the big R, the blogging me has heard some sad tales of woe in the wake of the increased costs we all face. I'm talking more and more about insurance and pet savings plans...sigh...

I have two dogs and a cat. This month, due to a dog's eye injury, I ended up paying $750 in vet bills, which included this year's heartworm medications for the dogs. This was after the multiple pet discount and did not include food for my animals, either. I work at a college, and whenever I hear students talk about adopting animals, I tell them straight out to wait until they are in a stable life situation. Most people have no idea how expensive caring for an animal can be, and how difficult it can be to find housing that allows pets at all, regardless of any deposit requirement. And they definitely have no idea what kind of time commitment an animal, especially a dog, requires.

I would give up my TV, my stereo, my computer, my books and my iPod if I had to in order to keep my animals, but that doesn't stop me from cringing when I pay the bill for the expensive (but not overpriced) procedures and medications that my dogs sometimes require. Pet insurance? I'm not entirely sure that it is worth the money, considering all the exclusions that most plans have written in the small print. Pet savings plans and annual packaged deals? These may be more in line with my idea of smart money, but to each his own, I suppose.

There are plenty of purebred dogs at the pound. I adopted one, and she's a wonderful, devoted little animal. By far the healthiest dogs I've known in my life have been mutts, though. My 12-year-old border collie/Australian shepherd mix has been much less expensive than my eight-year-old American Eskimo dog.

If you are planning on having children, think very carefully before buying a dog. Often couples get a dog, treat it like their child, then when their human child arrives, Pooch gets put outside and doesn't get the same treatment as previously.

My partner and I would love to get two dogs but have agreed we won't until we have finished having children, so the kids can play with the puppy, look after it and learn about being responsible pet owners.

Think about the dog first, before your own wants.

We went on to find our dog. It's a great website that most pet shelters post their animals on. We have no idea what our dog is, but we think he's part lab and chow chow. You can find purebred dogs in shelters too, but usually they have health problems due to inbreeding. Bottom line, and my opinion, is that you should definitely adopt a puppy instead of buy one.

If you ever want to feel like you should secede from humanity, just watch "Animal Cops..."

I trained my dogs for competitive agility and obedience. I second avoiding Cesar Milan. Instead, I prefer books such as "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell, "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor, and "Culture Clash" by Jean Donaldson. Understanding how your dog interprets your communication signals allows you to form a much better training relationship with the dog. These books give you insight for the basic commands (sit, stay, down, etc.,) tips for dealing with problems, discussions of dominance and fear behaviours, and advice for teaching complex commands (yes, you can train a dog to make the bed!)

I paid $80 for my vet to just tell me to not to feed the dog for a night and just let it have water. My friend asked a online vet and got the same info and paid just $5!

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