What Will Become Of Our Pet When We Die?

We rely on our pets for companionship, laughter and many other things and when we lose a pet, the pain and heartbreak that we go through is hard to bear. Having lost a beloved cat very recently, I understand these feelings only too well. I’m still the happy owner of two dogs and one cat but the loss of one of the ‘team’ has made a difference to life.

Have you ever wondered what your pet can go through if they lose us? Like us, animals have their own way of grieving, but without their devoted owner, the comfortable environments that we so lovingly provide for them, largely with the cash that we work so hard for, could change radically for them, and perhaps not in a way that we would wish for them. Who will be there to provide for your pet and give them the same financial commitment that we do to keep them in the way they are familiar with? A friend of mine recently calculated that my pets cost me around £400-£500 each month by the time that basics such as food all the way through to luxuries like hydrotherapy were taken into account. This is indeed a tidy sum, and my friend was surprised that it hadn’t even crossed my mind!

Your Will is the first place to ensure that your pet is cared for by someone of your choice after your passing. It is little known, and perfectly acceptable, that a trusted friend or family member can be named within your Will to take over the responsibility for your pet, but do remember to ask their permission first! If this is done then at least your loved ones will know exactly what you wanted for your pets.

But what of the cost? The person most willing to care for your pet may not have the financial means to support them in the best way and may well have their own financial commitments, such as children or pets of their own. A life insurance policy is an excellent answer as this will enable you to leave a legacy for your pet. Very willingly, we put in place life insurance policies to provide for our loved ones in the event of our passing but we don’t always consider doing this for our pets. Putting in place a policy to cover the expenses involved in caring for your pets will provide their new owner with the funds required to ensure that they continue to have the care that we would have afforded them ourselves. Placing this policy in trust would also ensure that the proceeds pass immediately to the correct person and fall outside of your estate for potential inheritance tax purposes. Such policies should be calculated according to the funds you would like to create and need not be expensive at all.

I am always happy to discuss these matters on an individual basis according to personal circumstances. Those you leave behind will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Starting a Pet Business in SA

There is a great deal of opportunity in the pet industry, however, as with many entrepreneurial ventures, it is essential that you obtain the relevant knowledge and expertise before starting out.

Dealing with pets brings with it much joy but of paramount importance for any pet related business is the ethos of responsible pet ownership and care. It is important that you consult with a veterinarian on any important issues to ensure the pets’ wellbeing is always a priority.

Whilst the economic downturn has affected many industries, the pet industry has proven to be remarkably resilient to the global recession. According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) the pet industry has seen unprecedented growth in the last ten years in the USA, with spending up by an estimated $2.49 billion in 2011, despite the recession.

In South Africa there is a growing middle class who can afford to own pets and offer them the best care. In July 2011, a staggering 18,384 people attended the World of Dogs and Cats Pet Expo (WODAC) in Johannesburg during the two day show. The Expo had a record 123 exhibitor stalls and exceeded all expectations.

Within the pet industry, pet services would appear to be the fastest growing area both locally and internationally. While pet training, boarding and grooming remain popular and necessary, services such as pet photography, portrait artists, hydrotherapy and even pet spa treatments are offered as more and more owners are splashing out on their beloved pets. Innovative new products are constantly being developed for pets, from bacon scented bubbles to DNA tests that determine the heritage of your “pavement special”.

There are a wide range of pet services and products you could offer the pet-loving public and we will highlight just a few;

Boarding Kennels and/or Cattery

Due to the growing demand for accommodation for pets whilst their owners are away on business or holiday, there has been a steady increase in the number of kennels and catteries available and there are even places that will look after more exotic pets. Taking care of a loved companion animal is a serious business and a huge responsibility, and a number of factors should be considered.

Most animals create noise so you would need to ascertain whether your neighbours would object, whether you comply with your local bylaws and what permissions need to be sought. Your facilities would also need to be secure enough to prevent the escape of an animal and large enough for dogs to have space to run and be exercised.

Animals are also more likely to pick up diseases when in high density, stressful conditions and a lenient intake protocol could result in disaster. It is therefore imperative that you receive proof that all animals admitted for boarding have had the relevant vaccinations, a schedule of which can be provided by your veterinarian or by consulting the South African Veterinary Association (SAVA).

You should also have a signed release form that allows you to take any pets to the vet should the need arise. Simple things, like a sudden change in diet for example, can result in diarrhoea and illness so care must be exercised when considering the dietary requirements of your lodgers.

Cats in particular are prone to stress and need to be kept in a quiet area far away from any barking dogs. There are some establishments that have gone the extra mile and included televisions and music to both soothe and entertain the pets in their temporary care.

Ensuring that your customers receive individual attention, exercise and mental stimulation in addition to a comfortable environment during their stay will result in happy pets, happy owners and return visits.

Pet Sitting

Professional pet sitting has become very popular and whilst there are a number of companies and individuals who offer these services, many are localised so it might be useful to check if there are any operating in your area.

Many owners prefer to have their pets stay at home whilst they are away and would rather have somebody come to their house. Your duties would include feeding the pets and giving them water and may also include walking, grooming, administering medications and even playing with the animals. You could be asked to stay at the property or to visit daily.

Dog Training

In recent times much progress has been made on the psychology of pet behaviour and a number of organisations in South Africa offer accredited behaviourist and training courses. These days it’s not only horses that are “whispered to” and many a nervous kitty and misbehaving pooch have benefitted from seeing a professional who can provide guidance to both them and their owners!

It would be imperative to research which method of training appeals to you and to enrol in the recommended course before you attempt to offer classes or assistance.

A website to look at is: http://www.thinkingpets.co.za

Pet Foods

Pet foods makes up the bulk of spending within the pet industry but it requires a great deal of research and expertise and as a result would require a fair amount of capital expenditure and product development before the actual marketing of the product.

Anyone interested in food production would certainly benefit from consulting the Pet Food Industry (PFI) Association which is a non-profit body formed by manufacturers, dedicated to upholding quality standards that ensure the nutritional well-being of household pets.

Bedding and Housing

One only needs to visit your local veterinary store or pet shop to see the great number of different products available for your pets to sleep on or in. From adapted tractor tyres to custom made homes complete with lighting and under-floor heating, sponge cushions to memory foam mattresses and everything in-between, there are always unique new products entering the market and with some innovation and the right market research there are certainly opportunities in this area.

Animal Shelters

Starting a shelter requires much in the way of initial set up and administration, and possibly more good could be done channelling your energy into helping an existing shelter. Running a shelter is both physically and emotionally draining. In most cases it will deplete your financial resources rather than add to them.

Every animal that is admitted needs to be vaccinated, sterilised, treated for parasites and, ideally, micro-chipped. Even at reduced veterinary rates these essentials cost more than the adoption fee the public is willing to pay for a rescue animal and most shelters make a loss on each and every animal they home. Organisations that focus on fundraising for animal charities provide a tremendous boost to existing charities.

Emerging Trends

New moves within the pet industry according to the American Pet Products Association include;

Eco-friendly Pet Products
High-tech Pet Products
Monogrammed Pet Products
Pet-Friendly Hotels
Human Product Manufacturers now offering Pet Products (e.g. Paul Mitchell, Harley Davidson etc.)

Advertising your pet business

There are many pet owners out there just waiting to hear from you and there are number of platforms available to promote your pet related business. SA Pet Pages Magazine is a pet products and services directory that provides an extremely effective way of reaching your target market as it is distributed FREE into the hands of pet owners. Each quarter 55,000 copies are distributed through veterinary clinics throughout Gauteng, KZN and the Eastern & Western Cape.

The old adage goes: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at someone in a dark room. You know you’re doing it but nobody else does.” It is important for any business and especially for any new enterprise to advertise. Ensure that you make the most of your advertising investment by asking consumers how they found your product.

This will enable you to calculate the return on investment (ROI) that you are getting from the various advertising media you employ. Additional advertising platforms to consider include the annual WODAC Pet Expo, dog and cat shows, dog parks and the internet. Social media is of course another important tool that must not be overlooked.

Make Money Pet Sitting! Start A Successful Pet Sitting Business

Own Your Own Pet Sitting Business

More and more people have started to realize that starting a pet sitting business is a wonderful way to earn money and own your own business. It’s a perfect business for those who love animals. You’ll care for the pets, brush them, feed them and, of course, give them lots of love, hugs and companionship while their owners are away.

An added service you can offer is security for their home while they are gone: turning lights on and off, taking in mail and newspapers, and watering plants.

Even thought it’s a pet service, you must also be a people person. You may have wanted to try your hand at pet sitting because you love animals but having some basic business practices will help.

Your Time Commitment

If you are considering starting your own pet-sitting business, begin with a plan. Figure out exactly what time you have available to take care of pets. Add in driving time to and from their homes. Once you have determined this you will know how to market your services. Do not take on more than you can handle.

Calculate What Price To Charge

Next, find out if others in your area offer pet sitting services and find out how much they charge. You should also check kennels so that you can offer your clients competitive prices. Take into consideration how far you want to travel to pet sit. Too many miles away and the price of gas may be an issue.

Do you want to charge more on holidays? Many pet sitters charge extra fees for holidays, something to consider. And pet sitters are in such demand over the holidays they often find their time has been reserved months in advance. Consider hiring helpers during this busy time and add another profit boost. But be sure to introduce your assistants to the owners and pets well in advance of the scheduled pet sitting time. Get the owners go-ahead that your assistant is approved to take care of their pets.

As your business builds, YOU decide how many hours you want to work in a day, a week, a month. The Pet Sitting Business Start-Up Kit shows you how to calculate future income.

Which Pets Will You Sit?

The next thing to do is decide what kinds of pets you want to take care of in your pet sitting business. Some people find it best to work with just small dogs and cats since they require less work and time than larger animals. Some pet sitters take on all types of animals, and that can include everything from hamsters to horses including fish, birds, mice, rabbits and pigs. That’s the wonderful aspect to running your business: you have the freedom to choose exactly which pets you would like to care for.

Dog walking services are now very popular. You’ll exercise and feed the dogs while the owners are away for the day. Or you can start a doggy day care at your own home. Owners drop off their animals at your place so they can be watched over and excercised during the day. This is a great option if you have a big enough yard.

Forms Provide A Written Log of Your Visit

For the most part, those who use a pet sitting service think of their pets as their children, and small things matter a lot to them. You should provide the owners with a daily written report on exactly how you cared for the pets. The owner then sees evidence that you are putting in extra effort and truly caring for their loved family members.

Leave a Welcome Back form to remind the owners to give you a call to let you know they have arrived – make doubly sure not to leave an abandoned pet because the owner missed their flight home!

The Pet Business Is Booming

The pet sitting business is booming. It is a winning proposition for the business owner, the pet owner and the pet. The business owner gets to do what they love and the pet owner knows their pets will be well taken care of and they can go on a business trip or vacation without worry.

Announce Your Business

A professionally written press release can be a boon to your business. Submit it to your local newspapers and you may free advertising for your new pet business. Your area newspaper editor may receive your press release and decide to write a feature story about you and your pet business.

Make The Right Decision For Your Pet By Opting For A Cat Health Insurance

Insurance is a part and parcel of our lives today, where one insures everything, starting from his life to his valuable assets and properties. Even though individuals are willing to take greater risks nowadays, still they ensure that each risk is well calculated and not unplanned. So, if we are that concerned about any unplanned damage or high risk accident happening to us, our loved ones or even our inanimate properties, then why not worry equally about our pets as well? However, sadly not many pet owners consider getting an insurance for their pet and therefore, face many unfortunate circumstances with regard to their pets. For instance, if you are a cat owner, a cat health insurance should be one of your prime objectives, but chances are that, you may not have analyzed the risk to your pet’s health objectively enough to seriously consider a pet insurance.

A cat health insurance provided by any reputed and reliable pet insurance company can greatly reduce the financial burden of providing the best care for your pet. Different plans will have a different premium payment attached to it and the coverage will also differ accordingly. However, if you calculate the amount of premium which you would be paying for a cat health insurance plan vis-a-vis the actual financial expenditure undertaken on your cat, you will be surprised to note the big difference. It is not surprising, therefore, that pet owners who have a health insurance for their pets are much better equipped to look after their pets in terms of the financial expenditure required, to give the pet the proper care and treatment it deserves.

When a pet owner fails to realize the importance of getting a cat health insurance for his beloved pet, the consequences can be devastating in certain unfortunate cases. If, for instance, you cat contracts a serious illness, requiring immediate hospitalization and expensive treatment, it may be a big financial burden for you to bear alone. Many pet owners have faced such situations and in most cases, the owner is forced to make a practical and devastating decision of putting the pet to sleep because the financial resources are not sufficient to provide for the treatment. The guilt, loss and mental anguish of losing a pet due to lack of funds is something that no pet owner would like to go through and it can be avoided with a timely pet insurance.

Getting a cat health insurance is easy and economic, if you have done your homework well. Research on the internet, for various insurance companies providing suitable pet insurance plans. Compare their rates and ask friends who have already selected some plan or the other. Once you have decided a plan based on your pet’s age, gender, breed (if applicable) and on any existing medical condition, the processing becomes simple. So, think carefully, research well and choose wisely, so that both you and your pet can have a more secured and loving relationship, without financial worries creeping into your decisions for your pet.