Okay, fine – it wasn’t actual arms or legs that were lost. My family added a half-corgi, half-border collie named Finley to our family a little over a year ago. Truth be told, if we could go back knowing what we know now, we probably would have thought twice before signing on the dotted line. But, he’s a member of our family now and we’re glad we have him. If you’re thinking about getting a cat, dog, fish, ferret (yuck), goat, llama or any other animal, discover the real cost behind pet ownership before you commit.
Since every animal is going to require a different amount of investment to care for, I’ve estimated in some cases where I wasn’t able to itemize expenses. On the whole, this is an accurate representation of what we spent in the first year of pet ownership.
We found Finley while perusing Facebook one night in the For Sale in [your city] page, two Decembers ago. My wife and I had been batting around the idea of getting a dog for six months or so, but this was still an impulse buy. Some puppies are just too cute to say no. Seller was asking $250, which we paid. Initial cost – $250.
Food & Treats
We buy Taste of the Wild for Finley. We’ve purchased seven bags in the first year. At $46 per bag, that comes out to $322. Add in $35 in doggy treats and we’re up to $357 for food, and a running total of $607.
Vaccinations, Neutering and Microchip
The initial shots, de-wormer, microchip, neutering, anesthetic, pain medicine and everything else they did that I can’t remember came to $495. Huzzah! Finley became a veterinarian-approved Finley! The initial vet work brings our current total to $1102.
We really wanted to keep Finley from chewing on our furniture, shoes, books, etc. so we bought a lot of toys. He proceeded to turn each rope into a saliva soaked pile of thread, every plastic chew toy into nest-building scraps for the birds within seconds. My stomach turned a little when I added this one up: $574 on toys alone in the first year. Running total: $1,676
Damage to Property
All of that money spent on toys, and it didn’t help. After one torn up linoleum floor and a chunk ripped out of our carpet, we were ready to call it quits. We decided to replace with tile instead of linoleum, and paid a carpet service to repair the carpet spot.
- Carpet Repair – $80
- Tile Floor Labor – $325
- Tile – $170
- Grout, Mortar – $20
- Moldings/Trim – $10
Total cost of repair for both floors was $605, bringing us to $2,281.
You might have a totally healthy, pristine, model-of-perfection dog. We did too! Until he got in an accident, that is. My wife and son were running around the house with our 2 month old dog when he got underfoot and had his leg stepped on. When they ran an x-ray, they discovered he had swallowed a bobby pin and some wood he chewed from the moldings in our house, which had been blocking his digestion. One surgery, two weeks of rest and $2,500 later, he was good as new. New total = $4,781.
Flea & Tick Medication
Our dog is mostly inside, but he spends a lot of time in the back yard, going for a walk/run, playing with the in-laws dog, so he gets fleas on the regular. $60 per month to keep the critters off his back. At $720 for the year, the running total is now at $5,501.
The Rest (Kennel, Leashes, Collars, Doggy Bags, Nail Clippers)
- Kennel (2): $140
- Collars (3): $51
- Leashes (2): $24
- Doggy Bags: $30
- Nail Clippers: $7
- Backpack: $30
- Raincoat (It’s Oregon, after all): $20
- Total: $302
Were all of these things necessities? Maybe. We bought a second kennel because he outgrew the first. Same goes for the collars and leashes. Doggy bags because we try to be thoughtful neighbors. Backpack because he gets restless and needs a job when we walk. I was against the raincoat, but I let my wife win that battle.
After everything was said and done, Finley cost us $5,803 in year one. That’s a far cry from the $250 we paid to buy him, and much more than I ever would have guessed before this adventure began. I’m happy to say that he has adjusted well into our family and has become one of our own. Even our stubborn cats have come around to him, mostly.
If you have been considering adopting or purchasing a pet, I hope this post illuminates some of the hidden costs of pet ownership. Owning a pet can be a wonderful and satisfying experience, but it’ll be a lot more enjoyable if you’re confident you can handle the financial responsibility.