Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How do the elderly afford their pets?

Few people doubt the affection and happiness that comes with having a companion animal. The health advantages of lowered blood pressure when stroking a pet are well documented. 
All kinds of medical interventions are available to give our dear companions a long and healthy life. 
But little is said about the cost of keeping a pet when one is living on a fixed and limited income.
 First is the cost of food for the pet. Our local Meals on Wheels provides daily meals for elderly in need but found that many were eating only half their meal and sharing the other half to their pet because they did not have the means to buy food for the pet. (I understand that Meals on Wheels now will provide donated pet food to those who need it.)
Then there is the yearly registration and vaccinations. I've read that some vaccinations can be given every other year. And we found a Veterinary mobile clinic which gives vaccinations and registration at about half the price of our usual vet clinic. 
Lastly, there is the problem when they get sick. How does one afford veterinary care for a sick pet? We ran up a $500 veterinary bill for our cat yesterday and are not sure if the treatment we gave him is going to cure him or not. We have the money to pay it because JMM is still working but when he retires, $500 will be a good chunk out of our retirement income. 
I am wondering how does one afford companion animals in retirement?


Hattie said...

We have spent thousands on our cat. Much as we love animals, keeping them has become too expensive.
Did you know that tripping over animals is one of the most common causes of bone-breaking accidents in elders? Our cat, the same one who has cost us so much, caused my mother in law to trip over him. She broke her arm, which led to decline and her death less than a year later.
So we love Fred, in spite of his expensive and wicked ways, but he is definitely our last pet.

janinsanfran said...

We too have spent more than I ever anticipated on our cats.

Here in San Francisco we have something called PAWS-Pets Are Wonderful Support that helps old and sick people with animal food costs and vet care. I have an 87 year old friend who just moved to town who volunteers there and says she gets a lot out of it. Some of us almost need animals. But Hattie makes a good point about the tripping.