Over the last few weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve heard of many people reaching out to animal shelters and breeders interested in adding a furry member to their family. As a dog lover myself, my heart is warmed every time I hear of an animal shelter that has been emptied or a boom of foster-pet volunteers.
According to Bloomfield Hills veterinarian, Dr. Lauren Zeid of DePorre Veterinary Hospital, pet ownership has increased substantially over the last few weeks. When discussing the uptick in pet ownership, Dr. Zeid said it makes a lot of sense to her. “Inviting an animal to live in your home takes up a lot of energy and time – something we all have a lot of right now” she said. In exchange for our efforts, dogs give back meaningfully with their affection and companionship. I know my dog Cosmo, pictured above, has provided my family with real therapeutic support during this lonely, uncertain time.
However, dogs are not free (sadly) and considering all costs is critical before taking the plunge. Dr. Zeid shared some costs and considerations for new pet owners to keep in mind:
Routine veterinary care: Estimated cost – $500 – $1,000/year for routine care
- Dogs require routine veterinary care – things like yearly blood work, vaccines, and heartworm/flea tick prevention. Dr. Zeid reminds owners not to forget about dental costs as well. “Just like humans, routine dental cleanings and full mouth radiographs under anesthesia often become an important part of their routine health care. Depending on the dog, most dogs benefit from cleanings every 1-3 years and cost about $500” she said. Of course, life is unpredictable, and some dogs tend to find trouble (like the time my childhood dog ate 4 pounds of chocolate overnight). You should always budget for sick visits and emergencies which unfortunately can become costly. When I asked her about pet insurance, Dr. Zeid said, “It really depends on the specifics of the plan. Pet insurance can be a wonderful option to help people cover some of those unexpected costs however don’t expect it to cover routine needs. I would recommend getting the insurance when you first get the dog to help prevent not being covered for pre-existing conditions”.
Boarding and daycare: Estimated cost – $30/day, $60/night
- Daycare is a great way to socialize a dog and help them learn how to play safely around other dogs and people. However, Dr. Zeid points out, “Before committing your dog to day care, please remember that just like us, some dogs are not as social as others and spending time with other dogs may be more stressful than fun.” If daycare is not the right fit for you or your dog, dog walkers (approximately $20 for a 30-minute walk) are also a good option.
Food and treats: Estimated cost $25 – 50/month
- According to Dr. Zeid, “there are many misnomers about the “healthiest” dog food to buy, with people often equating the labeled organic and most expensive food to be the best option”. So how do you choose the right food? Dr. Zeid said “as a veterinary community, we recommend food that is produced by a reputable company that works with veterinary nutritionists and has put in extensive research and food trials to ensure that the food is healthy and balanced. To name a few: Science Diet, Royal Canin, or Purina”. These foods might be more expensive but provide proper nutrition for your furry friend.
Now, pet ownership during a global health pandemic can present some challenges. In response to Governor Whitmer’s recent executive order, Dr. Zeid’s office has significantly reduced hours and postponed all elective treatments and operations. Vets in Michigan can only see animals that are in pain, with compromised health or at risk of infectious disease transmission between animal and people (e.g., rabies vaccines). This means it may be more challenging to get the routine care your new pet might need. Dr. Zeid doesn’t think this is “insurmountable to getting a new pet” but it is “important to plan ahead to get your dog the care they need”. However, she points out, “it is critical to pick the right animal for your home for both during and after social distancing”. Great advice – especially since I know we’re all very hopeful this quarantine lifestyle will end sooner than later.
If you do take the leap and bring a dog into your home during this period, I’d love to hear how it is going and maybe even see a picture of you and your new pup! You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.