The Lowdown on the Cost of Pet Fostering

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Fostering a pet in need is a selfless act, but make sure you consider the cost of fostering a pet to ensure you can provide everything the pet will need.

Fostering a pet in need is incredibly rewarding. Not only does a foster pet bring immediate joy to the entire foster family, but the satisfaction of helping a dog or cat find a forever home is priceless. With that said, there will be some pet fostering costs involved that every potential foster pet parent should be aware of before seeking a foster pet placement.  

Plan for Expected and Unexpected Costs 

A furry addition to any household, even temporarily, will have some cost involved. Pet foster parents should make sure they have the financial resources necessary to foster a pet. Potential pet foster parents should also realize that every agency, shelter and rescue will have different policies and resources available. Be sure to discuss the expected financial responsibilities with the foster program coordinator to get the details before any foster placement. The goal of pet foster placement is to find a temporary foster home until a permanent home can be found. To that end, it is important that every pet foster placement is successful because a failed foster placement means the pet will have to return to a shelter or endure the stress of transitioning to a new foster home.  

Which Costs Are Covered by Adoption Agencies? 

Next, we walk through which costs are covered through the pet adoption agency or shelter, and what the foster parent is expected to cover. 

Meals Are Not Included 

For the most part, agencies try very hard to provide all necessary supplies to foster a pet. Perhaps the biggest on-going cost of pet fostering is food. Some agencies will have enough resources to provide you with food, but many agencies have limited resources, and ideally, pet foster parents can afford to buy pet food. At a minimum, your new foster pet will arrive at your home with a small supply of pet food, but if possible, foster parents should plan on buying pet food for the duration of the foster placement. This tremendously generous gesture is greatly appreciated and allows the agency to spend resources to help other animals. Also, for the most part, pet fostering expenses you incur are tax deductible as long as the agency you are working with is a 501(c)3 non-profit.  

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Be sure to follow the feeding instructions you are provided, as well as suggestions of brand of pet food because switching pet foods abruptly can cause an upset stomach. Remember that many foster pets are abandoned, and will benefit from a nutritious, consistent diet in their foster home. Some foster pets may have dietary restrictions, but you should have been made aware of that before the foster placement.  

Just like any pet, you will need to monitor food intake including treats, which may or may not be appropriate for your foster pet. Make sure to get as much information you can so you can provide a healthy diet, and also pass on information to prospective adoptive parents. Pet foster parents are a vital part of the adoption process because foster parents are not only providing a loving foster home, but able to improve social skills which includes good table manners.  

Medical Care and Vet Costs are Included 

Pet foster parents are not expected to pay for any necessary medical costs, including emergency care, vaccinations, spay or neutering and general wellness. Some agencies, however, have pre-existing relationships with specific pet care providers, so always consult with the agency before seeking medical care for a foster pet. You pet foster care coordinator should provide you with instructions on what medical attention is necessary, including any medication that you may need to administer.  

As a pet foster parent, you will need to monitor the foster pet’s well-being, including any anxiety or behavioral issues. Pet foster parents will always find support and advice from the agency, so always consult with the agency if you have any concerns. The health and safety of the foster pet is the number one priority of the agency, and foster parents are trusted to provide the best possible care.  

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Additional Pet Expenses to Consider 

All pet parents will want to pamper their pets. While the agency will provide all the basic necessities such as a collar, leash, food and water bowls, crate and/or bedding, litter box and litter for cats, and maybe even a toy or two; foster parents may be tempted to get a few extra toys or a super comfy bed. While those expenses are generally not reimbursed (or required), these extra items may help make the home just a bit more welcoming. 

As you welcome a new member to the family, remember that the most important gift you can give as a pet foster parent is your love and attention. Providing a home to a pet in need is a wonderful experience for your entire family including the human and furry children. Pet foster homes are vital to the adoption process and agencies work very hard to secure the best placements possible, and lack of financial resources should not get in the way of the perfect foster placement.  

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