‘Tis the season to shower your loved ones with gifts! One very popular gift option is an adorable kitten or puppy... just what they always wanted! Before you run out and get an animal, I want you to meet Jack.
On my wife’s birthday last year, I took her to the Animal Shelter to adopt a cat. I was pretty sure I had thought of everything when it came to how much Jack would cost us... boy was I wrong...
When we adopted Jack, we were told he had an allergy. They thought it was to poultry, so they said to just pick up some food with a non-poultry base. He spent the first month scratching at himself, to the point that he eventually went bald on one side of his body. We took him to an animal dermatologist (yes, they do exist) and she informed us that we needed to put him on a special food (nothing but duck and green pea), stop using ammonia based cleaning products, and throw away the glade plugins we had just purchased. The food ended up being about twice as expensive as the standard stuff, but the rest was doable.
Fast forward 4 months - Everything was fine until one day he suddenly fell down and started moaning really loudly (I can’t even describe the sound... it was terrible). We rushed him to the local vet who said he needed a steroid shot. Jack continued to get progressively worse, so we ended up taking him to the 24 hour emergency animal hospital. Come to find out, Jack has a heart problem and the steroid shot exacerbated it... His heart and lungs were full of fluid, and he was on the verge of suffocating. So, they had to keep him overnight in an incubator (I’m not making this up). 3 days of stress and about $2,000 later, Jack was good to go... interestingly, we still have no idea what made him sick in the first place that caused him to get the steroid shot that almost killed him.
Why the sob story about poor Jack? Well, we weren’t prepared AT ALL for a $2,000 vet bill.
If you have (or are planning to get) a pet, start putting money aside for their expenses. Routine things like annual vet visits, flea treatment, heartworm medications, and food, add up really fast. Also know that the larger the animal, the more expensive EVERYTHING is. From flea treatment to getting them fixed, vet’s typically charge based on weight of the animal.
If you can’t handle a large vet bill, reconsider adopting an animal until you have set aside several hundred dollars, if not more. Save money each month for their future expenses. Your animal deserves to have their own emergency fund. Trust me... no matter how much of a penny pincher you think you are, when your beloved pet gets sick, you will pay the bill. Don’t let an unplanned for pet expense put you in a bind financially.
Have you experienced a similar situation? How did you handle the large vet bill? I would love to hear your story!
Alan Moore is a fee-only financial planner and founder of Serenity Financial Consulting in Shorewood WI. Connect on Google+. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, 414-455-5313, or visit his website at www.SerenityFC.com. Want more education? Download your free guide to the “10 Easy Steps To Securing Your Financial Future Today.”