The Annual Cost Of Pet Ownership
If you’ve known me for even 2 minutes it’s clear I’m an animal person. If you haven’t known me for 2 minutes now you know. I absolutely love animals, my dogs are like my children and that says a lot because I have no plans to have children – as in the human kind. They’re worth every penny but, the annual cost of pet ownership is something we factor into our budget.
Some people don’t understand my love for animals and question why we don’t have plans to have a child. That’s ok with me, I love my pets and the only time the Davidson-Perry household will grow is when we know it’s time to add another animal to the family.
Petfinder.com estimates the annual cost of a dog can range from $326-$1967. A very large range depending on what your pets needs are.
Today’s article will focus on the annual cost of pet ownership. At our house we have two French Bulldogs and until last November a rescued Pit Bull we sadly had to watch cross over the rainbow bridge. I’ve decided to incorporate pets into my blog not just because I love them but, because there are costs that come with them and they need to be a part of your budget.
I adopted Walter in 2007, he was abused and had severe skin issues along with separation anxiety. My Dad is a veterinarian and was able to prescribe everything he needed along with helping me rehab him – a priceless experience.
When Walter came to us he was a lost soul. Just a blank stare in his eyes and sad all the time. People suck, how anyone could hurt an animal is beyond me.
A year after I adopted him he was a different dog. Happy, kind, and the most laid back lovable guy you’d ever want to meet. He was everyone’s favorite, always a perfect gentleman.
His adoption fee was only $100 and I point that out because while an adoption fee might be low that doesn’t mean the cost of caring for the pet will be. Walter’s medicine was over $100 per month and that was only because my Dad charged me his cost – not for any of his expertise.
In 2016 Walter was diagnosed with Cushing’s and required medicine each month to the cost of over $200. Every two months he had to go into the vet (my Dad is now retired) and get his blood tested to make sure his levels were where they should be. The tests cost over $300 each time. Annually these costs added up to thousands of dollars, far out of the ordinary costs for a pet.
No question I would do it all over again but, when you have a pet factoring these costs into your finances is important.
Our other two dogs are French Bulldogs, Brinks came from Iowa in 2014 and Elvis from Virginia about 2 hours from where we live in 2017.
My Mom and I flew to Iowa to pick Brinks up because there was no way I was going to have a 12-week old puppy flying in cargo by himself. Not cheap but, I was prepared and it was what I wanted to make sure he was safe and sound. He was a little trooper on the flight home.
Being a puppy he needed additional shots, flea/tick medicine, heartworm medicine and of course neutering. In addition to that, before we went to pick him up I’d purchased a crate, bed, toys, food, treats, leash, and collar. Hundreds of dollars to get the supplies a dog needs.
Elvis was also a puppy when we brought him home and needed all of the same items. Of course, we’d give the crate away so we had to buy another one and we threw in a puppy pin so that he could safely be outside because we had moved from our previous home that had a fenced yard.
The cost of having an animal adds up very quickly even when they’re healthy. Don’t get me wrong, they are more than worth it. The love and joy they bring to my life are priceless. That said if you’re considering getting a pet or already have one you have to financially plan for their needs.
Annual Cost Of Pet Ownership
Annual Cost Of Food
Our dogs don’t eat very much dry food. We buy them Orijen Six Fish dry food and they eat less than a cup a day. Sometimes they get sick of one flavor and we have to switch it up. In general, Orijen runs in the $6 per pound range. For dinner, they always have wet food and being Frenchie’s with their short snots we hand feed them (yes, spoiled rotten) so that none of it gets stuck in their nose. Cost on this varies because they refuse to eat the same kind of food all the time. Yes, I know you’re supposed to give dogs one type of food but, they aren’t having it. They just won’t eat the same kind forever. They each get a 3.5oz can of wet food for dinner.
We switch between Little Cesar’s, Purina, and Blue Buffalo. These brands run the gambit on price and because of that our monthly expenses vary. I know Little Cesar’s isn’t the best brand but, the boys love it and like any child sometimes it’s just about getting them to eat. Is your dog a picky eater? What do you buy?
On average we spend $900 annually on dog food. Note – just dog food, the cost of treats is next.
To save I do my research before I buy their food each month. Typically Amazon has the best prices but, sometimes I’ll have a coupon or reward for the local mom and pop pet store and will go there instead. Target and Walmart are also worth checking. Most of the time I find food to be priced higher at the big name pet stores and it’s rare I venture there to buy their dog food.
Annual Cost Of Treats
We spend way more money on treats for the dogs than their actual food. Again, they’re spoiled, judge if you wish. I’ve got Amazon on auto-delivery each month for their treats. They have 4-5 different kinds that they enjoy and by bundling them into a subscribe and save order it opens up discounts. Paul places a couple of orders of his own during the month if they’re getting low to supplement until the next auto-ship comes.
The annual cost of pet ownership in the treats and bones department comes in between $1,000 and $1,200.
The boys don’t get any rawhide and the bones we buy are pricey. I’m not taking any chances on the rawhide splintering in their stomachs or them choking on it. We’re extra careful on what kind of bones we buy because Frenchie’s have a tendency to choke and that scares me.
Annual Cost Of Toys
It brings me joy to buy toys for my dogs. I’d rather buy toys for them than shop for myself, it’s much more rewarding. Paul typically gives me the side eye because they have a huge pile sitting under the coffee table and another bag full next to the couch.
Gone are the days I spend $15 on a toy. Elvis, in particular, can destroy a toy within hours of getting it so I go cheap on toys. HomeGoods is a great place to save on dog toys. I also check PetSmart, they have a huge variety and very reasonable prices on toys. Downtown Pet Supplies has a certain type of ball they both love and I order from them regularly.
The annual cost of toys ranges from $350-$400.
Do you have a go-to place for getting cheap dog toys?
The annual cost of pet ownership without a doubt needs to include medical expenses. When the boys got their initial shots when they were puppies and were neutered each bill was over $700. We also had both of them micro-chipped. I learned just how spoiled I was when my Dad retired and I was no longer getting everything at cost. It’s understandably expensive, it is medical care. There are a lot of medical costs when it comes to having pets.
You can always inquire with your local shelter about discounted spay/neuter options and I’ve heard in some areas PetSmart will have low-cost vaccination events.
Personally, I prefer to go to the vet. I want them to have an exam and the vet to ensure they’re in good health in addition to just getting their basic vaccinations.
Our dogs get a couple of extra shots because they are outside a lot and around other dogs regularly so that also adds to the cost of their vaccinations. Whatever it takes to avoid them getting sick, we will do. It’s no different than preventative care for humans.
Dogs also need to be on heartworm and flea/tick medicine. Heartworms are dangerous and once they have them not only are they sick, they can die. Spending a small amount each month on preventative care is far better than spending a lot of money on a sick pet or worse losing them altogether.
Planning for when your pet gets older is always a good idea. I have an account set up just for saving towards their care down the road. I had one for Walter too and had saved up over $4,000 to care for him in his older age. It didn’t fully cover the medicine and care he needed in the end but, it sure helped because I was prepared.
The boys are both going to need teeth cleaning in the next year and that’s been factored into the budget. We already know Elvis will need pain management for arthritis when he’s older. He’s over 50lbs which is huge for a Frenchie and it will eventually take a toll on his joints.
We don’t take them to the groomer because I give them a bath and trim their nails every week. I used to work at my Dad’s grooming business so we’re able to save a little in this arena. However, if they weren’t short haired dogs we’d have to take them to get groomed.
Some dogs require grooming as often as every 2 weeks, it all depends on their hair coat. Nail trimmings need to be done regularly, and if you don’t know how to safely trim their nails don’t do it. You can severely hurt them. It’s often better to bring them to a professional unless you have experience trimming nails.
If you don’t already have a dog and want to get one be sure to factor grooming into your decision. Short haired dogs require far less fur maintenance than long-haired dogs and professional grooming is an added expense.
Pet Sitting or Walking
Consider what your work requirements are before committing to an animal. I have the flexibility to work from home and can come home between appointments to let the boys out. That eliminates the cost of having them walked each day. If you have to be in the office all day you’ll likely need to budget for the cost of walks. No dog should be left home alone all day.
Traveling is something else to consider before getting a pet. We tend to go places that we can take our dogs but, on the rare occasion, we don’t they go and stay with my parents. That also helps with the budget and eliminates the cost of pet sitting but, not everyone is able to have the same setup that we do.
Travel for work? An honest and reliable pet sitter is not cheap although worth every penny. Even if you like to travel for pleasure but, can’t take your beloved pet with you, you’re going to need to budget for the cost of pet sitting.
Owning a pet is a big responsibility including a significant financial commitment. The annual cost of pet ownership for a dog can be well over $1,000 per year and that’s without any out of the ordinary expenses factored in. Run the numbers and determine if you can comfortably afford a pet before bringing one home.
How much do you spend on your pets?