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Lots of investing companies send their research to journalists in an attempt to generate some publicity. Most of it is not worth sharing you with, but there are exceptions, such as a recent note from a U.S. firm called Baron Capital on some investing opportunities in animal health. The headline: “How the ‘humanization’ of pets has created a booming industry."

A day or two later, the New Yorker dug into this same theme with an amusing article about why humans treat their dogs like people. Oh, great. Another social trend that is bad for personal finance.

The Baron Capital report says pet owners increasingly view their pets as irreplaceable members of their families and lives, a trend that is being driven by millennials. “This shift in attitude manifests itself in a willingness to pay for products and services that improve the health and well-being of their pets,” the report says.

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In the United States, spending on veterinary services has grown at an annual average rate of 10.3 per cent from 1959 to 2017, well ahead of total personal spending on consumption. Walmart is right on this trend. The retail giant announced in May that it is launching an online pet pharmacy and expending vet clinics in its stores. “As pets continue to play an integral role in our lives, their medical, dietary, grooming and entertainment needs have come to be seen as nearly on par with the human members of the family,” the Baron Capital report says.

What kinds of things are people actually buying for their pets? This blog post helps fill in the blanks. There’s a picture of a dog named Miss Charley wearing what appears to be some sort of a windbreaker, plus rubber boots. Other equipment mentioned: A designer jar for treats at $55 or so, a dog bed at $120 to $180, a car blanket at just over $40 and a paw washer at $18.

Pets make people happy, so I’m all for them. But we have to recognize what a financial commitment they can be. Yes, we now have to budget pet ownership.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list…

What savvy travel pros pack when they go on vacation

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This is a fun list – various electronic devices plus body wipes, an electric cooler and more. All affordable.

Warren Buffett disappoints

A sustainable-investing columnist evaluates Mr. Buffett’s holding company, Berkshire Hathaway. He’s not impressed.

Pouring cold water on F.I.R.E.

A blogger critiques the Financial Independence, Retire Early trend, which has proved popular with some millennials. “Promising early retirement is just far-fetched and unrealistic for many people.” Here’s a video I did with independent financial adviser Darryl Brown on F.I.R.E.

Mistakes people make when buying whisky

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Good whisky is expensive – here’s how to get your money’s worth when ordering at a bar or restaurant, or buying a bottle for home.

Today’s financial tool

Compare your city’s rent with other places to live across the country using this infographic. Canada’s most expensive cities for rental apartments? Yellowknife, Vancouver and Toronto. The info comes from RentSeeker, a listing of rentals in cities across the country.

Podcast of the week

I was a guest recently on a podcast by personal finance guy Alain Guillot. Forgive the interruption by our family cat, who has had zero designer pet products purchased for him.

Ask Rob

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Q: What do you do with a parent that has outlived her savings? She is 85 years old and only has Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, totalling $1,500. She no longer has a home, can’t take care of herself but not ill enough for long-term care and can’t afford a retirement home. In the interim, she has moved into her daughter’s very small condo and the daughter is sleeping on the couch. What are the options?

A: For help with this question, I reached out to John Stapleton, a social policy consultant and expert on retirement issues for low-income Canadians. Mr. Stapleton speculated that the mother might not be getting the Guaranteed Income Supplement. If OAS and CPP add up to $1,500 or so, he estimated the mother could be eligible for about $5,400 a year in GIS benefits. He also suggested putting the mother on a waiting list for government-subsidized long-term care, for when that becomes necessary.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

In case you missed these Globe and Mail personal finance-related stories

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