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April 14, 2008


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I'm not in denial about how much we spend on our dog each year. We spend $80-100/month on the very best holistic, natural food, in an effort to prevent future health issues (he is an english bulldog, they are very prone to health problems). We also have pet insurance at $22/month (which has already paid for itself for several years) and the there's the annual vet visit ($50?). So yes, he is "expensive" as you put it, but he's also a member of my family, and from that perspective, my husband is pretty expensive too. And when we have kids, boy will they be expensive...

I just don't think this is a pure nickle-and-dime issue. You can't look at a balance sheet to compare the "return on investment" that you get from your dog. Maybe you just want us to "know" how expensive dogs are, but I bet you a billion dollars that the same people who underestimate the costs of their pets would also shrug their shoulders and say "so what" if they really did add up the cost of the pet every year. For people who love their pets, it's worth it. This just isn't a personal finance issue for me.

I'd rather see more posts on how expensive kids are - WE GET IT with the pet thing. (That's not a sarcastic comment, I would actually be interested to know how much extra we need to budget for kids and in what areas. All I know is that most spending categories will go up. :) )

$1200 - $2000 a year is not expensive for the CARE OF A LIVING BEING.

Our 2 cats have cost us a total of $540 in the 1 year we have had them. That includes the adoption fee, all start-up equipment, and shots. The equipment and shots will not be needed every year, so I estimate about $350/yr total for both of them. I think the reason you don't believe the readers who say this is because you forget that your readers are generally sensible people who will give up a pet before spending money on ridiculous surgeries or fancy foods, luxury "cat condos", etc.

Cats are cheaper in some ways because I don't have to hire someone to watch them when we go away for the weekend, whereas dogs need to be let out (unless they are out all the time). When we go away for longer, I just ask a friend to come in and check the food and litter every day or 2. Dogs need more attention than that.

Ironically, since we pay for trash by the bag, our garbage expenses are almost half of the food costs!

I don't have complete records, but our dog cost about $1,300 last year. The only abnormal event was a $300 vet visit for an infection. She eats good food though, and in the long run that saves you lots in vet bills. And you have a more energetic and less smelly pet!

You definitely are the banner of expensive pets, FMF :)

Like you said, a lot of things are expensive. 52" Plasma TVs are expensive.

Pets are a luxury -- you don't have to have one. It's good to know what you're getting into when you get one. As you've discussed in the past, I think it's hard to come up with a figure of "we won't spend more than $XXX on the pet in an emergency".

I readily admit to being a dog fanatic - I do rescue work and own two Golden Retrievers (one a rescue, the other I got as a puppy). It is very important that people realize that getting a pet is an expensive endeavor. I find it well worth it and have often said that I would have no problem selling my car to save one of my dogs. That being said, like anything, if money is an issue, it is important to spend it where it matters - I whole heartedly agree with the other comments - feed your pet well and save money in the long run.

To me personally, it wouldn't matter if it cost $3K, 4K, 10K or more, what I get in return far outweigh the costs. People that write stories about things like this [Are pets really worth it?] send a bad itch up my spine. I treat my "baby girl" as best as possible, sometimes not enough I feel for what I get from her. I make (have made) personal sacrifices to ensure she has what she needs to survive. Far too often, people find the easy way out and treat an animal as a disposable item. If you can't commit 100% emotionally, physically and finacially to a pet, be it a dog, cat or whatever, you shouldn't have gotten one in the first place! Considering what it costs for us individually on an annual basis for the same (food, medical etc), the cost of ownership of a pet is mere pennies, but the returns on investment are priceless!

Let me confess from the beginning that I am not a pet person. I was raised with "barn cats" and "yard dogs" and no animals allowed in the house. Worked fine for me. Never minded taking care of animals that earned their keep.

Married a wonderful woman who loves animals. We've had dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, birds, lizards, fish, etc.. Guess who gets to bury them, set traps for mice and deal with them, and take animals to the vet?


I have, after the last animal (dog) died, managed to put my foot down. Kids wanted a new dog. I said fine, but before I'd get one, they had to clean the neighbors backyard of dog poop for an entire month, to prove to me they'd clean up our yard and it would not become a "Dad chore".

That lasted for about a week. Now, anytime they bring it up, I just point to the old pooper scooper and tell them we can talk in a month. Amazing how quickly they lose interest...

Biggest problem is the neighbors. They're all determined to get us back in the pet world. They love to bring puppies and kittens to the kids and the wife.

I'm still holding my position, that we both have to agree, but I'm just waiting to be outvoted...

I bought my dog in October 2006.

To date, I have spent $4,926.13

Wow - you have kids? Have you any idea how expensive THOSE things are? ;)

For those kid commenters among you:

1. Yes, I know how expensive kids are:

2. A kid and a pet are not the same thing (as some imply.)

It's good to read everyone's comments about owning a pet.... especially a reminder of the costs. I'm trying to pay off some debt but went to the Dog Pound with my BF and wanted to rescue about 3 dogs. As much as I want at least one of them, I am being reminded (thank you) that it's just not the best time right now.

Also, very funny, Obafgkm! I really like that strategy. My dad would have probably done something similar with my sister and I when we were kids if we had not had the "yard pets" like you. :)

I don't think anyone here has implied here that having pets is the SAME as having kids.

Clearly, having pets is better :)

Let's remember that most studies show that having a pet, particularly a dog, can add up to 7 years to your life. Let's be wise about it and save money were it best improves our lifes. Skip the 2000 cal. burger at $6+ for the combo, that kills you with heart disease and obesity, and that will more than make up for the expense of the pet.

Nicole --


Nathan --

I know:

If pets add 7 years to your life, and you spend $40k/year, I guess you could say that pets cost over $280,000 ;)

Right on, Nicole! 4-legged kids are the best.

I don't really know why FMF always harps on the cost of owning a pet. There's a cost to owning just about anything, so why should pets be any different? Think how much money FMF could save by living in a cardboard box instead of a home? :)

Some people may spend a lot on pets. But that doesn't mean that having pets is necessarily going to be as expensive for everyone. The average figures cited in studies are inflated by individuals spending excessive amounts. Even the study said costs “can vary from $400 to $500 a year to thousands.” Most of us here are more frugal than average and will not spend as much as averages or hit the extremes.


Dog #1 - a free to good home lab/Anatolian puppy cost approx $15000 before kidney failure took her at the age of 12. Costs included numerous home repairs due to severe separation anxiety, an ACL repair, a week of intensive vet care before euthanasia and solo cremation. Much of her life was before handy things like Advantage and Heartguard - if those things had been available her entire life the cost would have been significantly higher.

Dog #2 - an Akbash Dog obtained from breed rescue at age 2 had cost approx $6000 before succumbing to osteosarcoma at age 6. Costs would have soared if I had elected to go the amputation/radiation/chemo route (and I would have seriously considered doing so if the cancer hadn't already moved to her lungs)

Dog #3 - 1 yr old German Short-haired Pointer obtained from breed rescue. $1000 in the four months I've had him, including adoption fees, vet visits for an infection after neutering, flea/tick and heartworm meds, boarding, food, toys (lots of toys) and a new collar (since my old ones were for much larger dogs) Thankfully, I already had crates, beds, leashes and bowls.

I'm looking forward to spending more money and enjoying my companion for as long as I have him

I love my dogs, and they are part of my family. The truth is, I'm not a kid-person (and I know that probably some people out there will get on my case about that, because woman=mother to them). I'm not, I don't coo at babies, I don't particularly like them, nor little kids nor any of it. I find the idea of being a mother a punishment, there are so many things I'd rather do with my life. But I do coo over dogs, I love animals. So my husband and I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (each puppy cost $1500 before supplies, vet bills, the rest), one of whom had pneumonia almost as soon as we got her (another $1500). We don't have to pay for dog walkers because my husband retired early (saved carefully, everyone at FMF would be proud of him) and he can walk them while I'm at work, and we don't have to board them when we go on vacation because my mom also has dogs and we watch each others' when we're out of town. There is food, health insurance (the pneumonia was enough to convince us that was a good idea), vet bills, etc., but we don't care. They're our instead-of-children expense. In fact, we laugh over how much less expensive they are, we're saving college, clothing, god knows how much money. And for those who say they're no substitute for children, I say it depends on what you expect from children. If you don't want children but do want something little to cuddle and take care of, but don't want all the hassle, responsibility, and expense of children, dogs are great, and cheap by comparison. You really have to look at why someone has a dog before you can say if they're expensive or not. For me, it'd be cheap at twice the price. For other people, who already have kids and a dog is sort of a slapped-on addition or afterthought, ya, it would be expensive.

I, too, got a giggle out of Nicole's comment. And I agree! :)

You are talking about a pet. Let's just think of your children---have you thought of how much it cost to raise a child!!! Isn't it worth it!

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