Having a friend to come home to can make all the difference in these troubling times. But although shelters across the UAE have reported an increase in pet adoptions during the recent period of homework, residents may not be fully aware of what the addition of their family.
Although similar figures for the United Arab Emirates are not available, a recent US survey found that nearly half of all dog owners and 41% of cat owners said it costs more to own a pet. expensive than they thought. Financial services firm TD Ameritrade surveyed 1,008 adults over the age of 24 with at least $ 10,000 (MAD 36,725) in investable assets.
“Pets are expensive and should be a lifelong member of the family. Think about it if you are considering adopting; if you can’t commit financially or otherwise for life, adopt a foster family instead, ”says Lisa Knight, a British expat who takes in stray and abandoned cats and finds them new homes.
If you cannot commit financially or otherwise for life, encourage [a pet] instead of
Lisa Knight, pet owner
Adopting a pet could cost you a lot of money. Although rehousing a street animal may be free, you can expect to pay between Dh1,000 and Dh5,000 in upfront veterinary costs such as tests, injections, and microchip fees. For example, a vaccination course for a new puppy could cost 650 dirhams, says Dr Sam Westhead, senior veterinarian at Amity Veterinary Clinic in Dubai.
The monthly expenses include food, day care, grooming, visits to the vet and occasional treats: they easily amount to 1000 Dh per animal per month. With a little research and careful planning, it is possible to spend much less, say UAE residents.
However, unforeseen expenses such as accidents or illnesses can increase your expenses. Every UAE resident we spoke to advised new pet owners to start saving for an emergency fund for this type of expense. Except perhaps for child care, these costs have remained largely unchanged during the coronavirus pandemic.
Unlike other countries, insurance for dogs and cats is not available in the UAE – although plans are available for horses.
Finally, many pet owners advise expatriate residents to build up a relocation reserve of 5,000 Dh to 8,000 Dh.
We have discussed the costs of owning a pet in the new standard with several residents of the UAE.
‘I cut spending on pets amid Covid-19’
Our irrational love for pets can hit the wallet hardest, which Ipshita Sharma knows all too well. The Indian expat, 37, is a sales professional who lives in Dubai. She says her biggest impulse buys are at the pet store for her two cats, Tintin, an Egyptian Mau and Max, a Persian cross.
“There are always impulse costs, especially if I go to a pet store, where an average visit can net me close to Dh1,000. So, I try to order only online,” she laughs.
Ms. Sharma’s pets are rescues. Tintin came to Mrs. Sharma in the street and cost 6,000 dirhams in treatment and special food during the first three months. Max, who was rescued from Al Barsha Pond Park, needed veterinary treatments totaling nearly 10,000 dirhams over a similar period.
“There is a great need for vet rates to get down here. We really need the concept of pet insurance in the UAE as well as more action against stray animals, ”Ms. Sharma says. “People should be penalized for abandoning their animals because on many occasions they cannot be helped due to the costs involved.”
In total, Mrs. Sharma spends 2,000 Dh per month on her cats. Following the coronavirus outbreak, Ms Sharma has had to reduce the amount she spends on her pets. “I decided to give up vaccinations and deworming for now because I had a small pay cut. I also don’t give them their weekly wet food pouches.
“ The lockdown allowed me to cut pet bills by 30% ”
Dima Al Saidi, 29, is a Lebanese national who works as a press relations specialist in Dubai. She adopted Orlando, her mix of greyhounds and saluki, from a dog shelter in Umm Al Quwain almost two years ago.
The initial fee was Dh 1,500 which included Orlando’s first vaccinations as a puppy and her microchip, but she has spent more than 10 times that amount since he came to live with her. “I spent more than 15,000 Dh in a year and a half. I would have used the money to travel, but the love that Orlando provides is irreplaceable and it is now part of my family. His expenses are part of my monthly spending plan. “
On average, she says she spends between Dh 1,200 and Dh 1,500 per month. Food is the biggest outgoing at Dh600, while child care, at Dh75 per visit, easily adds up to Dh300 per month. She also spends 200 Dh per month on toys.
I also have in my savings the cost of the Orlando plane ticket and shipping it if I have to leave the country in an emergency.
Dima Al Saidi, owner of the animal
Vet bills are a minimum of 300 Dh each time, although this increases if Orlando needs medication or lab tests. “I still remember having to pay 2,000 Dh in one go. More recently, Orlando contracted a severe allergy during Covid-19 and I had to spend up to 900 Dh at one time for his lab tests and visits to the vet, ”explains Ms. Al Saidi.
During the lockdown and the period of homework that followed, she was able to reduce pet spending by 30%, she says. “I was able to reduce visits to nurseries and cut food bills by 20% by switching brands of dog food.”
While that may change when working hours return to normal, she was able to set aside an emergency fund. “I have in my savings the cost of the Orlando plane ticket if I have to leave the country in an emergency – it’s around 8,000 dirhams.”
“ We spend 5,000 Dh per month on cats – our own animals and street animals ”
Ms Knight and her friend own five cats, all of which rescue and support 30 other felines on the street, paying for the costs of food, treatment, trapping and neutering. Together their bills stand at 5,000 Dh per month – after Ms Knight worked to cut spending due to the coronavirus.
“We have cut costs by almost half by buying in bulk and managing portion sizes better,” says the British national, who co-owns Cafe Isan Thai Streetfood & Tea Bar in Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes towers.
The impact of the pandemic on her business and income has forced Ms Knight to think carefully about the issue of savings. “Like everything in life right now, this is about the basics.”
Mrs. Knight spends around 3000 Dh per month on cats who share her house. She now spends around 1,800 dirhams on food, while vet bills, toys and other items make up the rest. The occasional expense such as porters, climbing trees and safety nets to keep its balconies closed comes to around Dh2,000.
Ms Knight’s biggest expense, however, is the return of flights to the UK: she finds new homes for many of the stray animals she adopts and takes care of health. “They travel by plane on a cargo flight and it costs 3,000 Dh per cat, one way.”
“ Set aside Dh5,000 as emergency fund for each pet ”
If you thought vets had an easier time caring for pets, you’d be right. Dr. Westhead recently adopted a 14 week old Chihuahua called Goli. “Goli is a rescue dog. A friend of mine was feeding her for a while and thought of me. She came to see me privately, so I didn’t pay any fees for her, ”he says.
The British vet, 52, has only had his new villa mate for a short time: he estimates that she will cost around Dh400 per month for food, treats and jaws. “I haven’t budgeted for Goli. As a vet I’m in a very privileged position when it comes to medical bills so I don’t really have to worry about any vaccinations or medical bills. I also buy all of his food through my job, ”he says.
he [former pet] was family, so the money I spend on them is not shown
Dr Sam Westhead, pet owner
He received many free items, including toys and a bed. Goli accompanies Dr. Westhead to work during the day, so he doesn’t worry about the daycare.
He does make some impulse buys, however, especially on candy bars. “I buy them at the clinic partly because they are of high quality but also because I test them on her so that I can recommend them to my clients. The candy packs range from Dh21 to Dh70. “
Like many pet owners, Dr Westhead expects relocation to be the highest cost associated with Goli. When he left Saudi Arabia for the United Arab Emirates 10 years ago, he brought his old dog, Oscar. “I don’t remember how successful it was, but I didn’t even think about how much money was involved. Like Goli, he was family, so the money I spend on them doesn’t matter.
Nonetheless, Dr Sam advises setting aside an emergency fund. “I suggest Dh5,000 as a starting point, but a budget for annual vaccinations, deworming, treatment against ticks, etc., and of course the possibility of repatriation.”
Updated: September 30, 2020 5:55 PM