It’s been a year now since we’ve gotten our kid… err, dog. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel to be exact. I know this because we just had our annual vet appointment for more shots and a general exam. This got me to thinking how much we’ve spent on pet care over the last year. I think many people who get pets fail to realize the financial committment that it requires. They also may underestimate the emotional attachment you get to your pup. I know I did.
Since we broke the $1000 cost barrier only 3 months into having him, we’ve actually settled down to a nice routine with him. Basically all the things we bought, like the crate, bed, leash, nail clippers, etc. were all decent quality and are still working just fine. Here are the rest of our expenses.
Our dog only weighs about 20 lbs, so he doesn’t eat that much food, only about 1 cup a day. We looked after a Bernese Mountain Dog, and it ate 4 cups a day! We knew we wanted to not get the absolute cheapest dog food, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune either.
We tried Iams and Purina One in the beginning. Iams gave him gas(!), and Purina One left our dog’s coat dull and coarse. We then did some research into non-mega-corporation food and went for Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance dog food. It has no fillers (no wheat, no corn, no soy and no by-products). Not saying all dogs need this time of “premium” dog food, but it works for us since our dog doesn’t eat that much every day. I think it’ll be worth it in the long run as well.
It costs us $35 for a 35 lb. bag. Surprisingly, the cheapest place I could find it is a local specialty dog food store that has a 10% student discount. Our dog eats 5 oz. a day (about 1 cup), so one bag last almost 4 months. Put another way, it costs us about 31 cents a day, or a reasonable $10 a month for food.
Our last vet visit was $102, and the next scheduled one is another year later. We did have an unscheduled visit this year for an ear infection that cost $88. But now we have the medicine for it and we know what to look for and treat it ourselves in the future. So far, he’s healthy with no congenital problems, thank goodness. So let’s say $100 a year for this year.
Flea and Tick Treatment
We use Frontline Plus since it was worked well for us. The cheapest place I could find it is on eBay by a seller named ‘bobvet’ (he’s presumably a Vet) for $47.75 including shipping for a 6 treatments. We use it once per month usually, except for we did skip a couple winter months. So $48/6 = $8 a month.
Treats and Toys
This is probably where most owners splurge a lot. We buy some mini-treats (good for trainging) in bulk at the same store we buy our food for $3/lb and also Iams-brand treats at Target for $2/box. That’s enough to last us a month, easily.
We buy most of our dog toys like rope pulls and balls at the Dollar Store. We did spend $6 on a Kong, which is a great toy. We don’t buy the overpriced Kong treats though, we just stuff with peanut butter or an Iams treat, which fits perfectly.
Overall, I’d say we are at about $10 a month for toys and treats.
For short trips, we try to get someone else to look after our dog, but for longer ones we don’t want to bother others. We found a trainer that takes great care of our dog for $14 a night. At two weeks gone a year, that’s $196.
I think that’s about it. So our total annual cost of owning our dog, including boarding when we travel but neglecting start-up costs and unexpected healthcare visits, is $632 a year (average of $60 a month). Times 15 years, that’s $9,480 for a perfectly healthy small dog. A serious injury would easily add thousands on that.
So just because you see that free puppy in the newspaper, don’t forget about the ongoing needs of that dog! We knew about these costs going in, and it’s totally worth it to us. It is one of our chosen luxuries. Of course, he is the best pup in the whole world…
By Jonathan Ping | Budgeting | 5/16/06, 9:27pm