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The Cost of Pet Care


When those black, brown, green, gold, or blue eyes meet yours for the very first time, it is usually as often said - "Love at First Sight". Whether stray or purebred, it is difficult to turn down the gaze of an innocent animal in search of a good home. Before taking the bait and loading up your car or trailer, you should have a good idea of the responsibility you are agreeing to and to the cost of your new addition's care.

Maintenance costs vary depending on the species you have chosen, but realize that the cost to feed your pet is typically the most expensive, and is just the beginning. Most people spend around $650 per year on dog or cat food, and more on their horse. Even exotics, who may not eat a large quantity, may require expensive specialized or live foods.

Maintenance also requires safe and specific housing, special lights for reptiles, and the costs of periodic grooming of your pet may need to be figured in.

Last, but not least, is the cost of routine veterinary care. This necessity normally comes in at much less than the yearly food bill on many companion animals and horses, yet is often not budgeted for. Recent purchases often require exams, vaccinations, and with a horse you need a current coggins test. These items are necessary and need to be figured into the initial cost of the pet. It is estimated that the average dog, cat or horse owner spends somewhere around $350 per year on veterinary care. Of course, a major injury or illness can increase this amount greatly, while a pet pooch who only requires an annual exam, vaccinations, and 12 months worth of heartworm prevention may get by with as little as $200. Medical insurance is available for pets, and can help with both routine care and illnesses (see our page on pet insurance).

Clients sometimes get caught off guard at the cost of providing veterinary care for their pet, or in many cases multiple pets. Many people are not aware of the true costs to a facility such as ours to provide this care. Also, insurance and subsidized medicine softens the blow of the true cost of human medical care, but many individuals don't have such resources for their pets and can be shocked at what their "out of pocket" costs can run with a major pet illness.

We at Ridgefield Animal Hospital strive to provide the highest quality care for your pet, but to do so incurs costs. A modern facility and its upkeep is one such cost, as is the cost of the fixtures and equipment housed in that building. More importantly is the cost of providing a stable, full-time job with benefits and a fair wage to our well trained and hard working professional and lay staff, whose families rely on their salaries just like any other family. Add to that the cost of medications and medical supplies, insurances, utilities and other general costs, and the total becomes the base we use to calculate fees. As in any business, we have to generate enough income to cover all of the costs incurred in providing our services, and make sure there is enough left over to make new purchases and provide for the staff's continuing education, both of which insure that your pet is getting the kind of treatment you expect at a facility such as Ridgefield.

If there is ever a time when you don't understand the estimate or cost of a proceedure that your pet requires, please enlist the aid of one of our staff. They will be glad to provide you with a more thorough explanation of costs. We never want to overextend a pet owner's budget, and will be glad to assist you with medical financing options such as CareCredit.

The question of discounts and charity often arises when an "adopted" or "rescued" pet requires medical care. Ridgefield Animal Hospital is very active in providing such care through in-house adoptions and working with several area humane and shelter organizations. We provide these services to homeless animals so that they may be adopted. We cannot, however, provide discounts to individual pet owners based on the fact that they adopted or rescued a pet. Once a person makes the decision to adopt or rescue a pet, they must realize that they are also taking on the food, housing and medical responsibilites of that pet.

It is important to repeat - the "purchase price" of a pet, whether it is a gift, a "free" stray, or an expensive purebred, is only the beginning of the financial responsibility for that pet. Also, the "routine" care, from the first puppy visit and vaccinations to the geriatric bi-annual exam are all meant to prevent disease or find it in the early stages so that major illnesses may be avoided.

For tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association concerning how pet owners can save money, go to

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Ridgefield Animal Hospital


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