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Experts’ top tips to keep a lid on pet expenses

Sammy dog as recently featured in the Stuff newspapers pet photo competition.

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Following some expert tips can help pet owners keep their bills down.
Photo: Robin Martin

Man’s best friend is starting to look a little expensive, but it does not have to be that way.

The rising cost of living has hit pet ownership, amongst everything else, and animal shelters reportedmore people giving up their animals because they could not afford to keep them.

But experts said there were ways to minimise the costs of owning pets.

Healthy Pets New Zealand chairperson Cath Watson said it was important for animals to be well cared for and fed quality food, because the bills for unhealthy, unhappy pets could be much more.

And the cost of treatment was always higher than prevention.

“An easy way to keep the cost down is to keep up to date with preventative care, so that’s things like vaccinations, worming and flea treatment,” Watson said.

Money could usually be saved by getting on top of problems early.

“A big tip is to really get to know your animal, because understanding what normal is for them makes you much more aware of when things are not going right, and that means you can take action and be proactive for early detection of disease or minor problems,” she said.

Veterinary Association companion animals head Sally Cory said owners could rack up bills at the vet for potentially avoidable things, such as pets eating things they should not.

“We do have a lot of unforseen things happen because dogs do eat things that they shouldn’t,” Cory said.

She advised owners to research what they planned to feed their pet, and be wary of what their pets could access themselves.

Cory agreed healthy pets were likely to be less expensive over their life, and recommended investing in high quality pet food.

Watson said although premium brands might cost more upfront, owners usually did not have to feed pets as much due to the higher quality ingredients, so the food would last longer.

Dry foods had a range of benefits, and generally were cheaper options than wet foods long term because they were higher in calories, she said. But warned against owners making their own food for their pets.

“A lot of people seem to think that’s a cheaper and better way to go for animals, but you really need to understand what their dietary requirements are, and I would strongly recommend getting advice before going down the track of making your own food,” she said.

Other cost-saving tips were making toys from what was in the house, and entertaining pets by spending time playing with them.

Christchurch dog owner Emmy Buxton and her dog Bertie

Christchurch dog owner Emmy Buxton and her dog Bertie
Photo: Supplied

Christchurch dog owner Emmy Buxton said although there were many costs involved with dogs, they were wonderful companions to have.

“They’re equally as good for your health, so they’re worth investing in,” Buxton said.

But, for cost-saving advice, she advised people to be wary of grass seeds getting into their dogs’ paws during summer walks, after getting a $500 vet bill.

“This summer I made sure to get my dog Bertie’s long fur trimmed at the start, so I’d be able to prevent any grass seed incidents, because they are really expensive. I also check him every time he comes in from a walk near any kind of grass to make sure there’s nothing trapped in the fur,” she said.

Cory said for people thinking of buying a pet, they should understand there would be recurring costs, and she advocated looking into pet insurance.

“There are many, many benefits from pet ownership for mental and physical health. It should just be something people give a lot of thought and consideration to.

“Purchasing a pet should not be an impulse decision.”

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