Pets: A Bigger Expense Than Expected

The following is a post by staff writer Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. Her blog covers living expenses, saving for your future, and the fun stuff along the way.

My Beginning

I grew up surrounded by animals. My mother and I lived next to my grandparents in the middle of a forest for the first 4-5 years of my life, so we had tons of room for pets. I remember multiple rabbits, a ferret, two geckos, a grass snake, a billion guinea pigs, a hamster, a cat, and three dogs.

Now that I’m an adult and actually see what my two dogs cost, I have no idea how we afforded to eat back then, lol. When my husband and I drove to the Houston SPCA about a month after our wedding, I assumed we’d spend a few hundred up front and then simply cover the cost of food, flea prevention, and heartworm prevention. I was so naive…

Our First Dog

Miss Doxie, our first dog, really is an inexpensive blessing. She was given to the HSPCA since her older owner needed to move somewhere that didn’t accept pets. This meant that we got a 7 year old dog that was already fully trained and completely healthy for $75 in 2005. She is also a mutt, which means that she doesn’t have many problems that full-blooded Dachshunds usually have to deal with in their teens.

In 5 years, we have “only” spent about $2000 on keeping her healthy, happy, and fed. She has needed a few vet visits, a major teeth cleaning, food, flea prevention, heartworm prevention, a bottle of doggy aspirin, and a bottle of glucosamine tablets for her joints. That is pretty much it.

Our Second Dog

We adopted our second dog, a 6 year old Pug, in February 2009. Mr. Pug is not nearly as low-maintenance. We got him from Pughearts: Houston Pug Rescue and immediately ran into a few small problems like ear infections and skin-fold issues. I thought that the first $200-$300 in vet visits would have gotten us to the happy maintenance phase, but I was sorely mistaken.

In the last year, Mr. Pug has had a minor tumor removed, 7 teeth extractions, and developed food allergies so severe that he will be on meds for the rest of his life. His adoption fee was $200, and we’ve easily spent $2500 since then on vet visits and medicines alone. Now that he is 99% healthy, his maintenance drugs and food will run a minimum of $500 a year from here on out.

In short, he is an expensive but awesome pup. I may never adopt a Pug again, but I have added his needs into our monthly budget from here on out. I truly enjoy his perky company.

Conclusion

I am not trying to advocate spending thousands of dollars on pets, but I did want to point out that pets can be way more expensive than expected. By basing all of my expectations on our perfectly healthy Dachshund mutt, I was unpleasantly surprised every step of the way with my allergy-ridden Pug. I seemed to take offense at every single vet bill and medicine needed to keep him as healthy and bouncy as possible. I shouldn’t have expected the luck of perfection.

Have you ever been caught off-guard by pet expenses? How much do you usually spend every year on your pets or have heard about someone spending on their own?

5 Responses to Pets: A Bigger Expense Than Expected

  1. Valerie says:

    We have two sweet cats that we adopted from our local pet shelter. Our unexpected cat costs have included a pet deposit at our last apartment (basically an extra security deposit for having pets) and PET RENT at this apartment. Yes, we have to pay $35/month per pet. This generally makes me mad at the apartment management, as we also had to pay a one time sanitization fee of $300 that ostensibly should be for a deep clean so that you would never know pets were here. After that, I can’t figure out realistically what that $35/month could be for, other than gauging extra money from tenants (which our management is good at).

    Our cats haven’t had any big health problems, but they are still very young. Here’s hoping!

    Another big expense can be moving pets. We moved to a new state last year, and weren’t sure if we could easily take our cats in the car. Turns out those pet moving services are really, really expensive. Hope we never need those, either.

  2. aeko says:

    Animals get many of the same health problems that humans do. Diabetes, thyroid problems, heart failure, and seizures. And because we love them, we treat these issues. One thing that popped up for our family was the cost of fencing in the yard.
    Sometimes I think that over my 70 year lifespan, if I wouldn’t have had pets, I may have been a millionaire. But wouldn’t change a thing. My life would be very empty without my dogs and cats.

    • @aeko, yeah, we’re shelling out $1000-$2000 a year, but I agree with you. We wouldn’t change a thing because they help make our lives as happy as they are! :-)

      • Valerie says:

        I completely agree with both of you. Our cats bring so much happiness into our lives! Especially because I work at home quite a bit and am a homebody, having two little loving friends around makes my life qualitatively better.

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