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Adding a Family Pet

Friday, May 10, 2013 - 4:03pm
Kathleen Fellinger

At some point, every parent entertains the idea of adding a pet to the family dynamic.  Maybe when your family is out for a walk and the kids meet a loveable dog on the path, you see the interaction between your kids and the dog and your heart just melts.  The idea takes root and you can't help wonder how great it would be to have your very own family pet.

Often times, you don't think about a pet when the kids are babies because you are so busy and tired, the idea of adding more work to your load just isn't appealing.  But as your kids get older, the reality of owning a pet in your home becomes more manageable. There are many reasons having a pet can benefit the entire family.  The lessons can range from teaching kids empathy and being responsible for another living thing, to the life cycle and the concept of death.  This month, we are looking at some very important things to consider before you add more pressure to an already busy home life.  The rewards that a pet can bring can outweigh the work with a lifetime of love and memories.

 

KinderBuzz Latest Buzz - May 2013 Adding a Family PetIT'S MORE THAN "PICK A PUPPY"

Have you seen that popular show “Pick a Puppy”?  The concept of the show is about a family who wants a puppy.  The host interviews them and tries to find the right match according to the family’s wishes and needs.  When you are researching a breed it is very important to do your homework and learn which type of dog is the right one for your family’s lifestyle.  It’s also about bringing a new personality into the household that would need to fit your family life and your daily routine.  Some questions to think about:  Do you work from home or outside the home?  Are you gone all day?  Can you come home to give the dog relief during the middle of the day?  Who will feed your pet during the day while you are gone?  All these are important questions that need to be thought through and considered carefully.  Also, are you an active family that loves getting outdoors?  Or are you a hermit and don’t like to get much fresh air.  Don’t worry, we don’t judge ... but your dog will when you don’t get off the couch.  Certain breeds and types of dogs need more exercise then other types.  Dogs in general need stimulation and interaction.  Some breeds are just a little more laid back and not so energetic.  The bottom line is dogs need exercise to stay healthy and happy; they need to get out for walks and running space.  Having a pet is one more thing to care for and adds work on your list of things to do.
 

COST

After you have decided on what breed or type of dog you want, the next main consideration is the cost of owning a pet and being realistic about what the real figures are to keep a pet healthy and happy.  Start up costs to think of are:  

  • City of Regina license ($25.00/ year),
  • Veterinary check – up appointments and vaccinations,
  • Supplies: food, doggie bed, toys, collar, leashes, dog food bowls, mats, car seats, kitty litter box, doggie jackets & booties (we live in a very cold climate and your pet needs to be protected too from the elements),
  • Micro chip to locate your pet if lost ($60.00),
  • Doggy obedience classes - vary depending on the school,
  • Pet proofing your home for your dog/cat:  fences, gates.

Veterinary visits can be very expensive.  To spay or neuter a dog can average ~ $280.00 for a male dog and more for a female.  Also, what happens if your dog gets sick and needs an emergency visit?  The average vet visit can cost you anywhere from $125 and more.  What if your dog needs antibiotics for that emergency?   An antibiotic shot can run around $50.00, $20.00 for a prescription of pills.  Grooming is another cost consideration.  In the summer time, it is so easy to get out a tub in the yard and give your dog a bath, but how about when it is -28 in winter and they are starting to smell a little on the not so sweet side.  A regular grooming bill can average between ~ $60 for a city size dog and up to ~ $100 for larger breeds.  That cost is per visit and includes: bath, haircut, nail and ear trim.  These are all financial aspects to seriously take into account when thinking about adding a family pet.  There are also doggy day care costs and if you travel and need to board your dog that can cost between $22.00 - $25.00 depending on the kennel that you choose.

 

WHO REALLY DOES THE WORK?

We know at first, the initial excitement and joy of a new pet for kids will help them want to care for the pet.  But after that wears off, it might be unrealistic to think your kids will be the main caregiver of your new cat or dog.  Pets help children to learn to be responsible, but the reality is that parents will be the main caregiver of the new pet.  It is recommended that children over the age of 8 or 9 years old can help out with daily feeding, maybe some light grooming like brushing the animal and walking them - with parental supervision.  The average lifespan today of a dog can be anywhere from 11 - 18 years.  That is a long time!  Depending on the age of your kids now, they will most likely be gone from your home and off to university or moving out on their own but your dog or cat could still be around with you. Remember, this is a family decision that needs to be made together and everyone needs to be involved and on board.
 

ADOPTING A PET

There is a national crisis in Canada with overpopulation of cats and dogs.  The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies states about 40 per cent of cats received by shelters are being destroyed and the main solution is simply spaying or neutering your pet to control the overpopulation problem.  In 30 % of Canadian household there is a dog and 37.7% of households have 1 or 2 cats.  If you are thinking about adding a pet to your family, a strong consideration is adopting one from your local humane society that is in need of a good home and family.  We know those designer breeds such as Labradoodles and mini couture pups are so cute and enticing, but if you simply visit the Regina Humane Society, you will see so many great dogs and cats that need to be rescued!  For more information on how you can adopt a dog or cat, visit one of the websites below.  Please be responsible and spay or neuter your pet!

Are you thinking of adding a pet to your family?  What is your top choice:  Dog, cat, fish or bird?  Let us know at editorial 'at' kinderbuzz.com!

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