Pets may need Financial Planning too!

Taxi

Our dog “Taxi”

As most of you know, our family includes our three daughters, Kathryn, Julianne and Elizabeth.  But we also have another family member who completes the household.  Our eleven-year-old Labrador retriever named Taxi.

I can not imagine our house without her and for all of us, the love from Taxi has made each of our lives more rewarding.

Yes, I am one of those crazy pet loving people.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I try to keep my perspective when it comes to Taxi.  But, it is hard to stay mad at her even when she eats all of the crab apples off the tree and smells up the living room.

She shows no favorites.  She seems to know who needs the most attention and gives it willingly.  If you’re sick, she is there.  If you’re happy, she is happy.  And if  you have some popcorn, you are her best friend.

It probably comes as no surprise that pet ownership has been gaining popularity in the United States over the last couple of decades. Even as the number of people per household is shrinking, the number of pets in each home and the total pet population are growing. For empty-nesters and other households, pets are enjoying a new status with their owners spending money on them that would have been unheard of  a generation ago.

Consumer spending in the U.S. pet market will reach $62 billion in 2013, up 4.7% over 2012, according to U.S. Pet Market Outlook 2013-2014, a study released in the summer 2013 from market research firm Packaged Facts.   In addition, a survey by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) showed nearly 57 million households own at least one dog, and another 45 million own at least one cat.  Altogether, the APPA estimates Americans have roughly 83.3 million dogs, and 95.6 million cats.

All of those pets need food, supplies, services and veterinary care.  There are a number of new businesses that offer products and services tailored to dogs and cats.  And these businesses have continued to do well even during the recent recession.  Of course, there’s always been a market for pet-related products and services, such as leashes, toys and routine veterinary care. But as pets have become a more prominent part of American households, family budgets have made room for an explosion of new ways to spend money.

For example, health supplements and special dietary products claim to prolong the lives of beloved pets. There is grooming, walking, training and backyard cleaning services along with daycare for those of us who don’t want to leave our dogs home alone during the work day.

When we travel, we usually leave Taxi home with a dog sitter, but you can board your pets at kennels or even take them with you. Some hotels and motels that used to turn away pets now allow you to include them on your trip (for an extra fee, of course!).  And in some instances, upscale hotels will include a special room service menu just for your pet. Even the Ritz Carlton in New York City offers a “Doggy and Me” weekend package that includes home-baked dog treats.

Businesses that are not traditionally thought of as being in the pet industry are benefiting from the boom of the pet population . Fence companies have found there is a large market for homeowners who want to keep their pets safe. We have an invisible electronic fence that ensures that Taxi will stay on the property with the use of a special collar. The installation of the fence also includes three training visits to ensure that your pet will stay safely in the marked areas.

There are also a number of veterinary services that will travel to your home (which comes in handy).  We use a company called Pets Aloud  which examines Taxi in a specially equipped van that parks in our driveway. There are also pet grooming vans that will travel to you.  There are a multitude of advanced veterinary services available today and if your pet has emotional issues, you can engage pet psychologists to help them get in touch with their feelings. Veterinary bills for a sick pet, especially in emergency situations, can run into thousands of dollars.

To help pay for it all, there are a growing number of pet insurance plans.

How much would you spend to help extend your pet’s life?

So, here is to Taxi and all of our pets!  Even they may need some financial planning!

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About Maureen Crimmins

Maureen Crimmins is co-founder of Crimmins Wealth Management and a fee-only independent financial advisor. Have a financial question? ASK MAUREEN

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