How much do you spend on your pets?

First, my pet history…

lastscaBrandy Jean 1979-1996


My family dog from before I was born until I was about 12 years old –  put to sleep after 17 (119 dog) years of life



lastscanLady 1992-1994

German Shepard/Wolf/Mutt

Adopted off the side of the road because we felt so bad that her owners had abandoned her – taken to a “better place where she could play with other dogs” by my parents after she displayed just a little bit too much wolf-like behavior 😉


Bob's birthday parties 012Gizmo 1994-?

Tibetan Spaniel

Given to me on my 13th birthday, but left at my parent’s house when I moved out only to become one of the most pampered dogs around.


Petey 1996-2006


“Poor Petey” was the most common phrase used when referring to his life. He had a tough one: diabetes (requiring two shots a day), blindness, and a bunch of other ailments that led to his demise.

Rabbits, fish, hermit crabs, turtle, and other various animals  ?-?

I don’t remember their names, how long I had them, or much else about them.

Budgeting for a Pet

Everything above was financed by my parents in a time when a pet was, “just a pet.” But now pets have moved up in the world. I mean pet spas and refrigerated dog food was something you would see in a Saturday Night Live skit 15 years ago, but now it is reality.

I never thought about how much pets actually cost, and even if I had, it would still be drastically more now than it was 15 years ago. Since I have moved out on my own I have bought some of the cheaper pets that I could – i.e. Fish, fiddler crabs, and African dwarf frogs. Many have passed away (some just in time for me to still get my refund from the pet-store) but as I approximate the costs of all the stuff I purchased for the tank, it is a little bit frightening . And this is a fresh-water tank, I wouldn’t even want to imagine if it had been a saltwater tank.

Is a pet worth the money?

My wife has wanted a mini-dog of some sort. You know, a dog that is smaller than a large rabbit that Paris Hilton would tote around in a Gucci handbag.

I actually am interested in getting another dog, but honestly I don’t want to try to budget for all the expenses are possible with pets these days. I know we will get one eventually, but I just don’t know that I want to make the financial sacrifice at this point in our lives.

So, I am looking for a little help from the readers on this one… What do you think about rising pet expenses? Is it still worth having one? Does anyone have a ball-park figure of what they spend per year on their pet?

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  1. Rene

    We have two dogs and a cat. My trick is that i work at a vet clinic part time as a receptionist. The extra income is minimal $60-100 per month, but the discount pays off ten-fold. We are able to get our annual vaccines as a big discount, plus everything else at 50% off. Even better, pharmaceutical reps usually give free samples of heartworm preventative or flea/tick preventative a couple times a year. I would estimate that my total yearly cost for all three pets (including food/litter/treats/vet care)is ~$500, definitely worth the great companionship we get from our pets. Granted all of our animals are young, <4 yrs, so we haven’t hit the expensive age yet, but hopefully my husband will be out of school and at a job before that time hits:)

  2. Amy

    I can speak to our costs as both a dog and cat owner. I have two dogs (lab/newfoundland mix) and two cats. I buy Eukanuba brand food for them which is pretty expensive, about $40 a bag for a 45lb back of dog food and $25 for for a 12.5lb bag of cat food. I go through one bag of cat food and two bags of dog food a month; for a total of $105 a month just in food.

    I have been tracking my finances for about 2 years now and after vet bills, toys and food I spend an average of $200 a month on our animals. I do note that one of my cats had to go in for surgery last year which was $700 and I travel for work sometimes so I have kennel costs as well. 1 week for my dogs is about $250.

    That being said, I have really shopped around and tried to cut costs down. The kennel I go to is the most affordable I could find. I’m always looking for coupons for food and am part of the “frequent buyer” plan at our pet store so I get the 10th bag of cat or dog food free. I have also switched Vet offices after calling around and getting prices. It’s amazing the difference in some vets.

    Since making these changes this year my average monthly pet expenditures are about $150. They have been in the Kennel only twice this year so far which has helped.

    It’s a constant battle to keep costs down. I can say that I was shocked when I first started keeping track of my budget to find out how much I spend on them, even when I try to be frugal. There are other expenses that you may not think about as well such as needing to replace your carpet due to one of your dogs trying to eat an ink pen (white carpet and blue ink don’t mix well). Yes, I’m speaking out of experience on that one.

    I must say though that they’re worth every penny. I would never give up our pets to save money. There is also a good article that I found at talking about this same issue if you’re interested. Here is the link:

    I posted on there back in April as well.

  3. bob

    Ok, sounds good – sign me up 😉

    thanks for the thorough response – so from your response I am figuring (conservatively) an average of $50 a month for one little dog if we had one. That really isn’t too bad, but it is those things like the kennel and surgery that make me a little nervous…

  4. cory

    Did you hear about Leona Helmsley leaving something like $5 bil to her dog?

    We got rid of our dog a few months ago because it was mean to our 2nd baby. I loved that dog, but once she was gone the grass in my yard started growing again, my carpet stayed cleaner longer, and the financial loss of an occasionally chewed up shoe was no longer an issue. It costs more than you think.

    If you can avoid getting a dog, by all means try not to get one. However, dogs are not practical decisions. Dogs are emotional decisions, so if you decide you want the companionship and if you fall in love with one, get one!

    Or, you can skip that step and just have a baby. 😉

  5. bob

    I have been putting the whole dog thing off for the very reason that you mentioned. We will probably start having kids in the next few years and I would hate to have to get rid of the dog… And good point about them being an emotional decision, that seems to be the case…

  6. Sean

    Whenever I’m in the waiting room for a long time waiting for the vet, my eyes are drawn to a chart on the wall with common ailments for each breed. There is more of a disparity than I would have suspected… some breeds have no big red “X” and others have many. There’s a ton of useful websites and busy forums, but I’d start by looking for a time-saving chart like that.

    We’d still choose our dog over and over again, but ideally manage the situation earlier (bad neck) and know how much to budget for the worst case scenario.

  7. Travis

    I think people should listen to their veterinarians. I know some of their ideas may be expensive but with the advances in doggie health care and the way that “buster” has always been there for you…how can you say no?

  8. Sam

    In my parents home, we have 3 dogs, 3 cats and a weird looking “shell-less” turtle. My parents probably spend more than a hundred dollars to take care of them.

    Now as a new father, I’m not really thinking of pets*laughs* to save more money.

  9. bob


    you know that is a good point, I have seen similar charts and it does seem that some breeds are just “doomed” – I mean not necessarily, but I would rather take my chances with one less likely to get a disease or have its knees go out

  10. we have had a small shi-tzu for the past 4 years, and she is a delight – even tempered and friendly with everyone and cuddly (my wife likes that). If it had been my choice we wouldn’t have gotten a dog, but i wanted peace in the house 🙂

    Our expenses break down like this for our 9 lb dog:

    $10-15 every 2 months for food
    $40 every 3 months for grooming (less if you do your own)
    $50-100 2-3 times a year for vet visits.
    ? time to feed/walk/play with dog…

    when you factor everything in – its about $50 a month i think.. not too horrible..

  11. p.s. here’s something i wrote on the topic – as well as a picture of our pooch: