Pets: why I will always have them, despite the expense

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you’ve probably figured out that I am pretty crazy about my dog. He’s basically one of my favorite things ever. He makes me happy and I love him.

Besides the general joy and silliness that animals can bring to our human lives, sharing my home with another creature has taught me so much about patience and love. An animal’s love is absolutely unconditional and they rely on us for everything. I feel closer to all animals and nature in general from sharing my life with pets.

In addition, pets are proven to provide several health benefits to their owners. They lower our blood pressure (that is, when they are not maniacally barking at squirrels and mailmen…). They also provide companionship for elderly folks who might otherwise be all alone. Therapy dogs help sick children in hospitals and may encourage them to heal.

A while back on a frugality blog, the topic of pets came up and the consensus was that they are not frugal. Some people choose not to have pets for this reason. And honestly, it’s true. Pets are very expensive.

Despite the cost, pets are an unfrugal expense I plan to always have. The trick is to prepare for the cost and commit to taking the costs on when you bring a pet into your home. If the benefits do not outweigh the costs for you, do not become a pet owner! The saddest thing for pets is neglect and abandonment.

Here are some of the costs you should be prepared for. I’m using the example of a dog because I have the most experience with dogs. Other pets are probably more frugal.

  • The initial cost of the pet. Even if you adopt a shelter dog, you will most likely pay an adoption fee. If you get a dog for “free,” it may work out well for you. Or you may need to plan on spending more in the other categories (such as vets bills and training).
  • Food. Depending on how big your dog is and how fancy you want to get, this could run anywhere from $10 a month to well over $100.
  • Vet care. There is no way around it. Vet care is expensive. Even routine vaccines and check-ups add up. And, you will want to have your dog spayed or neutered.
  • Training. Either books or classes. All owners should do basic obedience training with their dogs, for the sake of the animal and the humans.
  • Toys and bedding. You can spend as much or as little as you want with this, but factor in at least some expense. If you plan to crate train (a good idea!) you’ll need to purchase a crate. Depending on the size of the dog you might pay $30 to over $100 for the proper crate.
  • Boarding. If you travel, someone has to watch your dog. Whether you hire someone to come to your home or you board at a kennel, it adds up. You may be able to trade favors with a friend or neighbor depending on your dog and your situation.
  • Flea and heartworm control. Most dogs need regular flea and heartworm control. The safe, effective, prescription kind will run about $200 a year for both.
  • Grooming. Depending on the breed, and the amount of time you want to devote to grooming, you may have to pay for this service. I brush and bathe my little Schnauzer, but he does need to go to the groomer for a proper haircut every 8-12 weeks. It costs about $40 each time.

So, to all you pet owners out there: what do you love best about your pets? And do share any money-saving tips you know for pet care.

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11 Responses to Pets: why I will always have them, despite the expense

  1. Nina says:

    Yes, I completely agree. I love my two dogs more then anything in this world. They are the two greatest creatures on this earth. I love animals so much, i want to rescue and own many dogs for the rest of my life. It is expensive at times, but so worth it.

  2. Jessie says:

    LOL. I love when my old rat terrier basks in a sunbeam. Our dog fills our days wi th joy – even after he has kept me up all night because he had a bad stomach ache. My husband and I probably spend about a third of our texts and conversation talking about him. He’s definitely worth the cost – though the cost was more difficult to deal with when I was a poor student.

    It’s definitely a cost to be prepared for before you take it on, but all of life is about a balance between paying a little more for what truly makes your life worth living and eliminating what doesn’t matter.

    Frugality only works if it takes into account aspects of life that give you comfort and joy. A little bit of gourmet food once in a while if that’s your thing (it is ours), pets, and the high cost of certain outdoor activities (skiing), or traveling.

    Life shouldn’t be all about work and saving every penny. That isn’t a life!

    • Lindsay says:

      Hi Jessie. I couldn’t agree more. I suppose I’m frugal in some ways, but mostly I’m a conscious spender. I save where I can so I have the means to pay for the things that are really important to me: these days that includes pets, organic food, and spending lots of time with friends.

      As for that sunbeam, he always finds the one little sliver of sun. Always. And plops right down. So cute!

  3. Marina says:

    I completely agree, pets are worth every penny!

    As to saving money on pet care, there are a few things I do. First I take my dog to an extremely cheap animal hospital in the area. I have lucked out in that I love the doctors here and they believe its more important to help the animals than to make a bunch of money so I get great deals on preventative heartworm medications, checkups, and vaccinations. They don’t take appointments so I always have a long time to wait to get in, but its worth it.

    My other trick is to buy giftcards for Petco from giftcards.com at a slight discount and use them to purchase flea medicine and dog food (in combination with coupons or sales usually). It doesn’t save a ton of money, but usually about 10% with the giftcard and maybe another 10% with a coupon.

  4. saverchic says:

    I love that you have a miniature schnauzer. We used to have schnauzers growing up, and they would always take naps on the floor where the sun came in through the windows. So cute!!

  5. formiga says:

    Kids are not frugal either and people keep on having them.
    The way I see it, I am not splurging on my dog… I am actually doing it for me. My dog is what makes my house a home, and there is no price for that.

  6. Pingback: Some things in life are pricey… « Urban Domesticity

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