Dogs are not cheap

Posted on September 4, 2013

The costs of pet ownership add up. The expenses vary widely from person to person, dog to dog, city to city. But in any case, owning an animal is not cheap.

My dog has bronchitis. Did you even know dogs could catch that virus? It does not spread between humans and dogs, but it does spread from dog to dog. My husband and I found ourselves feeding him children’s Benadryl to help with the coughing and breathing problem until we could take him to the vet. Then we had to foot the vet bill. There’s another cost.

I did a quick add-up from our budget sheets that were on hand. In the past 11 months, we spent over $1,700 on our dog. And our dog is five years old, so that does not include all the first-year kinds of costs like leash, collar, bed, and neuter procedure.

I looked at what other people around the internet are saying it costs to own a dog. One website put the cost at $400 for a small breed like mine. Really!? That must mean the dog eats poor-quality food, never goes to the vet, and the owners never go out of town. Another website gives the range $1,100-$3,500 yearly, which sounds more reasonable. And a final website I saw said $500-$1,300 yearly for our size dog. This is probably accurate for someone who has a family member to watch the dog for free when she goes out of town.

So here is the approximate cost break-down for our 11-pound dog:
Food: $300 (we buy the good stuff)
Medication: $200 (for flea and heartworm prevention)
Vet: $500
Sitter: $700
Total: $1,700 … plus toys, treats, and shampoo

We like to go out of town. And because we travel so often, we do not feel comfortable asking the same friends to watch the dog for free. So we pay them, and that has become our biggest dog-related expense. And perhaps our dog has to go to the vet more often than others. When there, he gets vaccinations, teeth cleaning, nail clipping, occasional sickness-related help (like his current bronchitis) and his ears cleaned. Our dog has an unusually large amount of ear wax that bothers him and causes him to scratch a lot, so we have to go a few times a year to get it out. Too much information? Sorry.

The lesson for today is that we need to know what we’re getting into when we become pet owners. My dog, “The General” already belonged to my husband when we married, so I had little choice. But I’ve grown to love him. And the benefits of having a pet? They can hardly be enumerated.

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