Non-Essential Spending

I’m tackling another hot topic this week. As I’ve mentioned before, I get a daily briefing on pet-centered news stories from around the world. It’s a great way to keep up with the industry as well as things like food recalls and human interest stories. Something I saw this week shocked me.

From an article at Time Business & Money, pet owners are expected to spend $370 million on costumes for their pets this year for Halloween.

Yes, $370 million. That number is, apparently, $70 million MORE than last year.

Alright, folks, time for a reality check. A quick Google search told me that a costume for a dog can cost as much as $19.99. A few were even closer to $30.00.

What could that $20.00 get you for care for your pet? A lot of things that I’ve had clients decline in the last few weeks! I’ve been told “no” to vaccines that cost $21, fecal checks that cost $24, heartworm and flea prevention that runs $10-$20 a dose.

These items are basic care for your pets! They’re things that should be happening as part of responsible pet ownership.

When I look at the total spending and realize that $370 million can buy over 30 millions doses of heartworm prevention (that’s over 2.5 million years’ worth for one dog, just to give you an exaggerated perspective on the kind of money we’re talking about here), I get pretty fired up.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the jackets, shirts, and other nice items that owners buy for pets. It certainly speaks to the depth of love and doting that pet parents offer their furry kids. I’d rather see a spoiled dog than one chained up in the backyard.

What I DON’T understand is why an owner would purchase a shirt, or a coat, or a costume instead of things that will actually help their pet live a longer, healthier life. What good are toys when a dog’s teeth are rotting out of its mouth from severe dental disease? What good is a fancy collar if the dog will die of heartworm disease? How important are those treats when your pet is obese and suffering health problems? How sensible will it seem to have spent $30 on a costume when that money could have protected a pet from leptospirosis or intestinal parasites?

These are all strong, harsh images that I’m creating. The devastating truth is that these are situations that I’ve faced in practice. While my profession exposes me to the negative outcomes of these decisions more than the positive, this core truth remains:

You are responsible for your pet’s health and well being as the top priority.

That statement should be the first thing that goes through your head as you pick up that next toy, treat, clothing, or costume. If you haven’t cared for your pet with the best health care available, should that money be spent on a non-essential luxury before the essentials?

What do you think about these statistics?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Non-Essential Spending

  1. Maybe I’m naive. I expect every dog in a costume to have already received absolutely everything required for their health and well-being. Rather than buying a costume, how about donating that money to a shelter to further the well-being of another dog in need?

  2. I really wish that was the case; I see too many pets that don’t get what they should, and get what they don’t need.

    Some of the burden is on me, though. It’s my responsibility to advocate for the pets when I see them. It makes for an uncomfortable but necessary conversation.

    Thanks for sharing a great idea for how to let those dollars do more for pets in need!

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