Belfast Telegraph

Pet expense is a worry

Fiona Caine is here to help if you have a relationship, sexual, marriage or family problem.

I would so much like to have a pet but I am worried about the cost of keeping one.

I’m a single mum and money is limited, as you can imagine, but my children and I would love to have a dog.

What would be awful would be to get a pet and then not be able to afford to keep it as that would be unfair on the animal and on the children.

I’ve tried to suggest a rabbit or even a cat might be cheaper but it’s a dog the children really want and anything else would be a compromise. GP

FIONA SAYS: BECOME A PUPPY SOCIALISER

You are right to be cautious about buying a pet of any kind because the costs can mount up.

It's not just the cost of the dog and its food to consider; there are also vets bills, medication and kennelling costs if you want to go away.

There are a number of ways in which these costs can be cut — for example, getting a mongrel dog from an animal sanctuary for a start.

You could also look at buying food in bulk, which is great if you've got somewhere to store it.

As for pet insurance, this can be worthwhile but don't assume the quote you're given is the cheapest, as it's worth shopping around.

Kennelling costs can be cut by finding other people willing to help you out in return for you helping them, but make sure you trust them.

If even after looking at this, you decide that having a dog is just too expensive, then think about offering to walk other people's dogs.

This will at least give your children a chance to experience a little of what it might be like.

Finally, you might be lucky enough to be in an area where a charitable organisation needs help.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, for example, sometimes needs puppy socialisers, which would give you the opportunity of living with and bringing up a puppy.

Volunteer puppy socialisers take hearing dog puppies into their home when they are about eight weeks old, and they stay for a period of up to 12-14 months.

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