The Weave

Stories and insights from the people at Investors Bank

How Much Do Your Pets Cost You?

Have you ever wondered exactly how much your pet costs you financially? A lot of us are spending money on pets: according to statistics compiled by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AMVA), dogs are present in 36.5% of American households, and cats are present in 30.4% of American households.  My wife and I have two dogs, and I’ve been curious about how much they cost me, but I never actually got out the calculator and tallied up everything. It’s not that I’m lazy; I just didn’t see much of an upside to go through the exercise, because it isn’t like we would just drop them off at the shelter if the costs seemed too high for our liking. Also, I consider myself to be pretty frugal, so I didn’t think I’d really find any new cost savings.

However, since we now have this forum to speak to the Investors Bank community and beyond, I thought that sharing some of our costs could be beneficial to those who are considering bringing a pet into their home, and I have now (finally) taken a look at our numbers for the benefit of our readers. I tracked our spending over the last 12 months, and broke it into categories: Medical, Food, Grooming, and Miscellaneous.

Medical

Across America, vet bills account for $227 per each dog, and $90 for each cat, says the AMVA. My dogs easily exceed that dog average. Together, they incurred about $1,942 In medical costs, which comes to $971 per dog. One of our dogs is quite old, and she requires daily medicine and vitamins, so that brings up the number. Also, every year, there seems to be at least one type of sickness or emergency event that requires an unexpected vet visit, which invariably leads to medical testing and medicine. Is our vet more expensive than others? Perhaps that is something I can explore, though I’m not sure I’d know how exactly to compare costs.

Food

This past year I actually did an in-depth analysis of my dogs’ food intake and shopped around for the best prices. For about the last six months I have been using an online supplier to save on costs. It has worked well so far, though figuring out exactly how much to purchase in each order is a bit of an ongoing struggle (I need to buy both dogs’ food at the same time to qualify for free shipping, yet I do not want my home to become a warehouse for dog food). Over the last 12 months, I’ve spent about $550 on their food. I could definitely save some money if I switched the dogs to different brands, but one of my dogs happens to have a very sensitive stomach so she requires a certain brand and type, and we also only want to buy food made in America, which limits us to brands that are on the higher end of the price scale.               

Grooming

I admit it- the dogs are not washed as often as they should be. But they don’t seem to mind. Anyway, they are both washed at home, so there is no cost there. One of the dogs, though, has nails that very quickly grow into her paws, so she often goes to her vet to have them cut. This costs about $120 per year. Could we cut the nails ourselves, or bring her to a groomer who would maybe be cheaper than the vet? We’ve tried, and either we cannot successfully cut them all, or someone ends up covered in blood, so we’ve learned that it is easier and safer for her to go to the vet.   

Miscellaneous

My old dog does not play anymore, and the other one is so strong that every toy she ever owned ended up demolished within 10 minutes, so we spend $0 on that front. We don’t dress them up in silly clothing or need to buy them new supplies, so that also is $0. Because of the one dog’s advanced age and because the other one goes wild among other dogs, we hardly ever go away, so there is never a boarding expense. We do, however, pay for health insurance for one of them (her breed is prone to hip dysplasia), which comes out $639 per year. Up to this point, as we have used the insurance exactly one time during her life, I think not paying for the insurance may have been the better decision. Yet, we continue to pay out of fear that something will happen and then we will regret not having it. I have shopped around recently, and this is the cheapest coverage I have found.       

Conclusion

Can you really put a price on the unconditional love and joy that your pets give you? Well, let me attempt to do so: both dogs end up costing us about $3,251 per year, averaging out to $1,625.50 apiece.  If we did not have the dogs, we would have an extra $270 per month that could go towards savings, the majority of a car payment, or even a larger mortgage payment. That extra $270 per month would really help us out. We love our dogs, but I’d use these numbers as a factor if we were ever deciding to get a new one.

Postscript

Since the above was written, my older dog's health has worsened, and she has now cost us considerably more money than what is covered in the above analysis.  Knowing this article was going to post soon, I thought about the dog's condition and went over the new numbers in my head as I laid in bed at night.  All was quiet, except from the foot of the bed came the old dog's consistent, gentle snoring.  Suddenly, her costs did not seem like such a bad return on investment. 

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