CRE­ATE NEW FAM­ILY BONDS WITH THE HELP OF FURRY FRIENDS

Pets can give a fam­ily so much at any stage of life, but af­ter sep­a­ra­tion and di­vorce ( as long as you’re in the po­si­tion to take on the com­mit­ment), they can be stal­wart com­pan­ions that will re­duce stress, pro­vide un­con­di­tional love, ex­tra se­cu­rity and a

Lift Magazine - - Contents - By Tracey Merritt

I MAY NOT HAVE CHO­SEN THE MENAGERIE I HAVE IF I KNEW I WAS GO­ING TO BE A SIN­GLE PAR­ENT TO THREE SMALL CHIL­DREN, BUT BE­ING A SIN­GLE

PAR­ENT SHOULDN’T DE­TER YOU FROM PET OWN­ER­SHIP. AS A VET, THE THING I STRESS MOST IS TO MAKE SURE IT SUITS YOUR TIME CON­STRAINTS

AND BUD­GET... AND RE­MEM­BER THAT WHEN YOUR CHIL­DREN DO SPEND TIME WITH THEIR CO-PAR­ENT, YOU’LL BE THE ONE PICK­ING UP THE SLA CK.

HERE ARE A FEW PET SE­LEC­TION BA­SICS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED...

BIRDS

What you need to know: Birds can be­come quite tame if they’re han­dled from a young age, which is great for kids, but bird vets are of­ten spe­cial­ists, and there aren’t usu­ally that many around. Your reg­u­lar vet might know the ba­sics and should be able to teach you to trim their wings but if your bird gets sick, you may need spe­cial­ist care which can be­come ex­pen­sive. Lucky, this shouldn’t hap­pen too of­ten.

Set-up costs: The pur­chase cost of a bird can vary, from $15 for a budgie, to $75-$100 for a cock­atiel or peach­face or more for some of the fancier breeds.

A de­cent size cage for th­ese smaller birds might cost from $150-$200, but then you are pretty much set.

Food costs: On­go­ing costs in­clude feed­ing which might cost as lit­tle as $10 per month for a box of seed.

Vet costs: Worm­ing should be done around ev­ery three months with an ad­di­tive you can mix into their wa­ter which is usu­ally very af­ford­able.

CATS

What you need to know: Most cats are pretty happy do­ing their own thing, and are con­tent spend­ing long amounts of time on their own. They’ll also gen­er­ally let you know when they want a pat and food, so in short, they’re pretty self suf­fi­cient.

Longer hair breeds will need more main­te­nance, or end up be­ing an ex­tra cost if they need pro­fes­sional groom­ing and clip­ping. In terms of their health, a few things to be aware of when choos­ing a breed are that pushed in faces of­ten need more den­tal care and white noses, ears and eyes are more sus­cep­ti­ble to sun can­cers.

Set-up costs: You can set your­self up with a bed, bowls and a litter tray for as lit­tle as $20. Other things you might con­sider are toys, a scratch­ing post and col­lar. You can even buy a har­ness and lead and teach your cat to walk on a lead if you so de­sire. De­pend­ing on where you live, your lo­cal coun­cil rules and risk of cat fight or road in­juries may mean you need to con­sider an out­door en­clo­sure to pre­vent wan­der­ing which can add to the set up costs sig­nif­i­cantly.

Food costs: Spend­ing a lit­tle ex­tra now on good qual­ity pre­mium food will make sure your kitty has a long healthy life and you’ll ul­ti­mately spend a lot less on med­i­cal care down the track. You can get qual­ity cat food for around 50cents/day us­ing dry food or $2.50/day for wet food. Dry food does give them all they need for a com­plete bal­anced diet, but wet will add a lit­tle va­ri­ety and some ex­tra wa­ter in­take.

Vet bills: While there may be great vari­a­tions in ve­teri­nary fees, as a rough idea an an­nual check up and vac­ci­na­tion might cost ap­prox­i­mately $100, an­nual ex­penses for flea treat­ments and worm­ing around $250, or more if liv­ing in a tick area as tick preven­tion can be quite costly.

DOGS

What you need to know: Dogs tend to be needy and al­though some can cope fine with very lit­tle at­ten­tion, they gen­er­ally like to be in­cluded as part of the fam­ily. They also need reg­u­lar phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, which is a great ex­cuse to get the fam­ily out of the house and bond over a brisk walk to the park.

Best breeds: There are lit­er­ally so many beau­ti­ful breeds out there it is dif­fi­cult to rec­om­mend just one. How­ever keep­ing low cost and chil­dren in mind I’d have to sug­gest a small mixed breed ter­rier or Jack Rus­sell. They are gen­er­ally pretty hardy, have lit­tle med­i­cal and main­te­nance is­sues, are smaller so med­i­ca­tions and food cost less and they are usu­ally great with kids.

Re­mem­ber though that this doesn’t ap­ply to all small breeds as some can be snappy, how­ever with a small dog the risk of po­ten­tial dam­age is far less than for a large ‘snappy’ dog.

I would also keep in mind the same things as for cats – pushed in faces of­ten need more den­tal care and white noses, ears and eyes are more sus­cep­ti­ble to sun can­cers. White tum­mies are also more sus­cep­ti­ble to skin can­cer in dogs too, this gen­er­ally ap­plies to larger breeds that like to sun bake.

Set-up costs: Again this can cost as lit­tle as $20 for some bowls and an old blan­ket. Other things you may want to pur­chase are a col­lar and lead, a ken­nel, bed, toys, dog coat, car har­ness, etc. Also you will need to en­sure your yard is dog proofed, as wan­der­ing can lead to more ex­penses with road ac­ci­dents or im­pound­ment.

Food costs: To feed a good qual­ity pet food for a dog weigh­ing from 5-7kg would cost around 65c/day for dry food, or $1.50/day for wet, av­er­ag­ing around $1or so to feed a com­bi­na­tion. Ob­vi­ously the larger the dog, the higher the food bill, with 15kg dogs cost­ing around $2/day, 25kg dogs around $3.25/day and so on. So ba­si­cally if you love that 70kg big bear, be pre­pared to dou­ble your gro­cery bill!

Vet bills: While prices do vary, an an­nual vac­ci­na­tion might be around $100 for a rou­tine health check and vac­ci­na­tion. Heart­worm preven­tion varies from as lit­tle as $60-$80 per year for smaller dogs to hun­dreds for larger dogs. An­nual ex­penses for worm­ing and flea treat­ments can range from $200 for smaller dogs up to $400, or more if liv­ing in a tick area.

Other ex­penses: Other things to con­sider may be groom­ing, coun­cil reg­is­tra­tion, train­ing or obedience and ken­nel ac­com­mo­da­tion or care while you are away.

OTHER CON­SID­ER­A­TIONS

DIET

While many pets can live a long happy life on the cheap­est food, I can­not em­pha­sise enough how much health­ier an­i­mals are when they’re fed pre­mium food. While it is more ex­pen­sive to buy per bag, the ben­e­fits are nu­mer­ous:

• Your pet eats less of it as they get so much more nu­tri­tion out of it.

• Less of it goes straight through them re­sult­ing in half the clean up in your yard or litter tray.

• It re­duces the amount of skin and ear prob­lems, tummy up­sets, den­tal dis­ease and uri­nary com­plaints, re­sult­ing in fewer trips to the vet and sub­se­quently saving money in the long run.

• Avoids sick­ness from food scraps (if un­sure, check­ing with your vet might save you un­nec­es­sary ex­penses if they be­come sick from some­thing they shouldn’t be eat­ing).

• Less chance of them be­com­ing over­weight which re­duces the risk of heart dis­ease, res­pi­ra­tory is­sues, diabetes, arthri­tis and joint dis­ease.

IN­SUR­ANCE

There are many to choose from and some can sim­ply be added onto your cur­rent home or con­tents in­sur­ance. Just be sure to look into what is cov­ered as they can dif­fer. Some cover pre­ven­ta­tive health such as vac­ci­na­tions, worm­ing and flea con­trol, oth­ers cover accident and ill­ness only.

DE­SEX­ING

I strongly urge that any dog or cat that is not in­tended to be bred should be de­sexed. This not only re­duces the num­ber of un­wanted pets from ac­ci­den­tal preg­nan­cies, it greatly re­duces a lot of health ex­penses for your pet from con­di­tions they are sus­cep­ti­ble to oth­er­wise. This ap­plies for both male and fe­male pets.

A WORD ON ‘FREE’ GIVE­AWAYS’

This is a good time to men­tion res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the RSPCA and the fact that a ‘free give away’ dog or cat may ac­tu­ally cost be­tween $200 and $500... Re­mem­ber though that this is ex­tremely rea­son­able con­sid­er­ing it usu­ally comes with a bag of food, health check, de­sex­ing, mi­crochip­ping, vac­ci­na­tion and flea and worm treat­ments.

If you’re still un­sure, The RSPCA is a good place to dis­cuss what sort of pet may suit your life­style. Other pets to con­sider are fish, her­mit crabs, mice, guinea pigs, rats, rab­bits (but check coun­cil laws), penny tur­tles, blue tongue lizards and if you’d be­lieve it, even minia­ture pigs. With a lit­tle re­search, you’ll find just the right op­tion to wel­come a new fam­ily mem­ber into your hearts and your home.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.