How Much is Your Dog Worth to You and Your Family?

Picture of a happy labrador retriever

Today’s pet owners view their dogs as an important part of the family. No longer are dogs relegated to a diet of sad-looking scraps from the family dinner table or to sleeping in a drafty doghouse in the backyard. The pampered pooches of today bear pride of place beside their family members on the sofa, eat designer dog food that is often hand prepared, and contentedly snore away beside their owners in the family bed. This shift in thinking has occurred gradually, but dogs have come to the forefront of family living with many people not even wanting to go on vacation if Fido isn’t welcome to tag along too. With families placing this high a value on their fave pooch, it is easy to see how dogs play a vital role in the enjoyment of family life. Yet life does not always progress along a positive trajectory, and when this occurs, sometimes hard choices have to be made. When funds are tight and demands for money exceed the family income, many people are forced to re-evaluate their priorities. When push comes to shove, how much is your dog worth to you and your family?

How Do You Determine the “Worth” of Your Dog?

If you were to ask the average dog owner how much their dog means to them, they would tell you that Fido is priceless. Even if someone were to offer them a large sum of money in exchange for their dog, most families would find themselves unable to do so. Yet the truth is dog ownership does come with its challenging moments that can leave you wondering who it was in your household that wanted a dog in the first place.

Though it cannot be denied that dogs enrich our lives greatly, they also do things that cause us money and distress. They make messes we have to clean up, and they destroy things that have cost us a great deal of money. Yet we continually forgive them because they love freely and unconditionally. When life is so bleak that it seems the world is against us, our dogs still think the sun rises and sets in our presence. That alone is worth a few chewed up shoes, the discovery of vomit in your bed just as you are about to crawl into it, and even the discovery that Grandma’s antique Duncan Phyfe chair now houses some unique teeth marks to enhance its charm.

Sometimes life deals us cruel blows. A family member becomes ill, and medical bills consume the better part of our income. One of the kids needs braces just as things start to slow down at work, and a layoff seems imminent. Your dog bolts from your front door and is hit by a car. Though the vet claims she can likely save Fido, it is going to cost you $5,000, and there is no guarantee the surgery will be successful. At times like these, how do you decide how much money you are willing to invest in your dog?

Counting the Costs

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers when it comes to prioritizing where your money should go when demands on your income are high and the potential for earning is low. Veterinary care is expensive, and while most pet owners are prepared for the costs associated with regular wellness exams and periodic bouts of illness, many families simply cannot afford an expensive surgery to save their dog’s life. This sad reality does not change the fact that they love their pets though it does place them in a heartbreaking position that no pet owner wants to face.

If your dog required a surgery that cost between $2,000 and $10,000, what would you be willing to sacrifice if it meant your dog would survive? Some families are willing to borrow from their savings while others put aside a credit card for emergencies of this nature. Would you be willing to go as far as to take money from your children’s education fund or to take out a loan from a bank?

Though all dog owners love their pooches deeply, not all of them are willing or able to go to extraordinary financial measures to save a pet’s life when it means they would have to sacrifice the very real needs of their family. This in no way is indicative of a lack of love for the pet. Some families end up in the unenviable position of being backed into a corner financially with no real options.

Sometimes, a loving pet owner must euthanize a pet who may have been able to be saved by a costly surgery, simply because they do not have the financial means to pay the large bill for the treatment without having to take away needed resources from their family. This is never an easy decision to make and is one that would break any loving owner’s heart. Unfortunately, in today’s society, many people are quick to point a finger of judgment on dog owners who find themselves in this predicament. Yet, life intervenes at the worst of times, and at any given moment, any one of us could experience a reversal of financial fortune that leaves us with only difficult decisions to be made. In the blink of an eye, the main breadwinner of the family could lose their job or a child could be stricken with a rare form of cancer, leaving the family financially destitute.

How Can You Prevent Being Forced to Choose Between Your Family and Your Dog?

No one wants to find themselves having to decide between keeping a cherished dog or meeting their important family obligations. Thankfully, with a little forethought and some wise financial planning, it can be possible to have your cake and eat it too when it comes to life with both a family and pets.

Here are some viable options to consider when planning for emergency situations involving your dog:

Consider taking out pet insurance

Pet insurance gives families the peace of mind that they need that should their pet require an expensive and/or life saving surgery that they do not have to question where the money will come from. There are many different companies that families can choose from. Some of these pet insurance providers offer very low deductibles in exchange for higher monthly premiums. Other companies such as Trupanion allow you to select the deductible you would like to pay, allowing you to customize your plan to suit your budget.

Having pet insurance is a backup plan you can count on. Though pet insurance providers will not cover all of the costs involved in emergency care, most offer between 75 to 90 percent back. Many companies also offer direct pay, meaning very little money has to leave your pocket at all at the time treatment is required.

Start a savings account

There is no question that paying monthly premiums for pet insurance adds up very quickly. If you happen to have a breed that is known for its excellent health and longevity, you may feel pet insurance is simply throwing your money away. It is important to remember that an accident could happen at any time, and it is always wise to have some form of financial preparation at your disposal to avoid having to face the heartbreak of being unable to pay for a life saving treatment your dog needs to survive or to live their life without pain.

Starting a savings account is an excellent way to plan for the future. The same money which could be applied to insurance premiums could be added to a savings account with each pay period. Over time, that money will accumulate into a sizeable fund which is then available to you should an emergency situation arise.

How much is your dog worth to you and your family? No one can put a price tag on the depth of emotion you feel towards your beloved dog. However, a little early financial planning can save you the heartache of having to make painful decisions later. Contact some pet insurance providers to learn more about plans available for your dog or consider opening up a savings account for Fido’s future needs. It just might save his life!



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