Dr Gavin Hall reveals financial realities of pet ownership
Over the past two decades, there has been a notable increase in pet ownership in Jamaica, with more households considering their pets as cherished family members. While the love and companionship these animals provide are priceless, it’s important to acknowledge that the costs associated with caring for these animals can significantly add up. Dr Gavin Hall, a mobile veterinarian renowned for his educational insights on pet care, spoke with The Gleaner, shedding light on the financial aspects of pet ownership, particularly cats and dogs.
Dog Care: understanding responsibilities and expenses
Managing the care of dogs involves understanding both the responsibilities and associated expenses; and the first hurdle is choosing a pet that fits one’s needs and budget, considering factors such as space, housing, neighbours, and the purpose behind owning a pet. Dr Hall emphasises the importance of lifestyle considerations, “Consider your lifestyle too; dogs, for instance, require more time compared to relatively independent cats.”
Furthermore, maintaining the health of pets is paramount, and vaccinations and proper nutrition are integral to achieving this goal. Dr Hall told Saturday Living, “The cost of dog vaccinations can range between five to $6,000 per dose, administered four times at three-week intervals.” He continued, “Regarding food, the monthly cost for a dog varies based on its size, ranging from three to $10,000. Additional expenses, such as toys, accessories, and initial set-up essentials could amount to $30,000 to $50,000.
As for grooming, Dr Hall explained that it can demand a bit of attention, “Dogs, especially those that are petite and long-haired, can cost an average four to $6,000 every two months.”
Apart from ensuring that pets are provided with the most nutritious food for their well-being, he emphasises that regular veterinary check-ups, deworming, flea and tick treatment, as well as heartworm prevention are essential and might incur an additional bi-monthly cost ranging from six to $6,000.
Cat care: understanding responsibilities and expenses
As for our feline companions, Dr Hall highlights, “similar to dogs, cats also require three vaccinations, costing between four to $6,000 per shot, administered at three-week intervals. Monthly food expenses can range between three to $7,000, with wet food being preferable due to cats’ low natural water intake.”
He also shared that “cat-related accessories and healthcare essentials, such as heartworm, dewormer, and flea and tick treatments, come at a cost of around $7,000 every two months”. He also emphasised the importance of keeping cats indoors to avoid injuries and diseases from fights.
In addition to regular expenses, it’s crucial to consider the initial cost of acquiring a pet and set aside emergency funds in your budget for unforeseen circumstances, as Dr Hall points out, “Purchasing a specific breed of dog can range from thirty to a hundred thousand dollars. Emergency care costs and the absence of extensive pet health insurance in Jamaica further emphasise the need for an emergency fund for unforeseen medical situations.”
Dr Hall believes there is a need for a change in the Jamaican mindset concerning pet ownership, advocating for responsible care tailored to the specific needs of animals. In line with this, he recommends the Jamaican brown terrier as the ideal breed for households in Jamaica, well-suited to the local climate and environment.
He added that “pest control, vaccinations against diseases such as leptospirosis, and yearly booster shots for ongoing protection are pivotal in ensuring the well-being of pets, as well as our health as the disease can be transmitted to us.”