Going to start this post off with a picture of my boy – I am drawing you in with the cute puppy pic, so if you decide to not keep reading this post, picture him sad #GuiltTrip. Dive in if you want to see how we cut down our Pet Costs.
Quite the looker isn’t he, love that little guy to death and he pretty much runs the house (Mrs. AE takes the brunt of his attention when I am at class, working on this site or reading other blogs). We always joke about how he is a “first class” citizen in our house, basically meaning he has couch, bed, and food privileges that border on insanity.
Not going to lie, when I get up and feed him before I go to work and he jumps on the couch and curls into a ball and goes back to sleep, part of me despises the simplicity in his life (yep, jealous of a dog).
Enough bragging – let’s get down to why you are probably here
I decided to do a little research into “how much a pet actually costs you” and compare against my costs, if my number was lower, I would write about it – if higher, Finn would learn what its like to live on a budget.
All the articles I found were pretty consistent in the $500-$700 dollar range a year for a medium sized dog, and $500 for a cat (not counting grooming). They all broke first year costs out separately, but I am going to look at reoccurring and hidden costs for the most part in this post.
We spend about $230 a year on grain free food bought on Amazon and it’s delivered in 2 days (Prime). Saves a little bit in gas money, and it is a few dollars cheaper than in the store, just feel bad for the dude lugging the 32# box to my doorstep.
For treats, he usually either gets whatever we are eating or milk bones, I know they are not grain free, but they are $12 for a 10LB box that lasts FOREVER and he only gets one(ish) a day.
My theory on the grain free/not grain free debate – if the bulk of his eating is “healthy” then he will be fine. People aren’t supposed to eat fried food, but that happens every day, so I am not going to beat myself up over my dog having a few non-grain treats.
Let’s call the food bucket – $300 bucks/year
If you don’t feed your animal grain free it can be much cheaper – no judgement- it’s your pet!
Heart worm prevention
If you give this to your animal every month it will cost about $80/year.
I have done some research and have concluded that monthly doses of heart worm prevention is not needed in Minnesota, we have winters which makes transmission impossible. Over the summer months, the sequence of events that needs to happen is outlined Here.
We decided to drop the medication down to 6 months where the temperature can be in range for mosquitos.
**This is my choice as a pet owner, I am not a vet and you need to be comfortable with your decisions, ask your vet if you have questions.
My Cost $40/year
Frontline or equivalent
Cost approx. $150/year
I don’t think my dog needs flea/tick prevention in the middle of winter, following the same thought process as above – he gets it for 6 months when insects are a problem.
I am going to look into alternative methods for prevention, not a fan of putting chemicals directly on to my dogs skin – if anyone has suggestions – please send them over!
My Cost $75/Year
When we first got Finn, we took him to this fancy vet and holy crap were they thorough. I would rack up 200-$300 a year in recommended tests alone. We now go to more of a “rub some dirt on it” type of vet, he is about half the price for routine visits and if you do have an emergency he does what he can to keep the cost down.
The guy generally cares about the animals that come in, even though his office is not the nicest, I trust him.
My Cost $70 year
-Nails – We do this ourselves now, too expensive to bring him in and watch him fight the poor PetsMart employee
-Grooming – This can get expensive fast (up to $90 per session), thankfully Finn doesn’t need haircuts and we give him baths ourselves. Invest in one of these guys (1 time cost – black Friday) for loose hair and you should be good to go
-Coat – When he was a puppy we sprayed this salmon oil on his food, it was expensive and it smelled awful. We have traded that for raw eggs, it is WAY cheaper and gives him a nice shiny coat without any doggy dandruff (he loves them and we use them as a “treat” or a filler when we are waiting on Amazon)
Cost – $0 plus a few eggs (after the 1 time cost of the furminator, half off on black Friday)
Animals eating things they shouldn’t
This is an embarrassing section, our dog will eat ANYTHING left out on the counter. Here is a list of things he has eaten (some of them multiple times): Full loafs of bread, 2 boxes of girl scout cookies (in 30 minutes), entire bag of dog treats, bag of tortilla chips, box of “Dots” candies – I think you get the point…….
I promise we are not incompetent pet owners – if we forget to completely shut the pantry door he finds a way in!
With all this naughty dog “experience” I have found google is your best friend. Can dogs eat (insert anything) is a go to search.
I freaked out on the girl scout cookie meal, one had chocolate so I started my search and found a very helpful table online by googling “dog chocolate chart”. You can save yourself an expensive visit if you can figure out what kind and how much was consumed.
Again – not a vet, this is just what I do.
Hidden Pet Costs
Lawn Maintenance – Assuming everyone has seen these spots in grass
Those spots cost me about $20 bucks to fix this year, but I have a solution moving forward. Build a box in the corner of your lawn, fill it with wood chips and train your dog to use it as a giant outdoor litter box. Makes it easy to clean up after them, you don’t have to worry about stepping in crap and your grass won’t die.
-Animals can reek havoc on the house, thankfully Finn only eats food off the counter these days – but he did destroy some shoes as a pup. I have heard horror stories and if you have an unruly animal, it can add up quick. You can see the worst case scenario here.
-We used to buy rawhide chews but they would disappear in about 2 hours and they are shockingly expensive, we have since traded them in for deer antlers as a chew toy (the older he gets the less he chews).
My approx. costs per Year $500 – Worth.Every.Penny.
So those articles have it pretty spot on for the low end, and I don’t think we could get this down much further if we tried. I think they are under on the high end, especially with how popular grain free food is and the explosion of “pet health” products. Also, anyone who dresses their animal in clothes is going way over $700.
Saving Money Recap
- Figure out if you need to buy preventative medicine year round
- Buy one-time items used (crates, kennels, grooming tools,etc)
- If your animal loves stuffed animals and doesn’t rip them to shreds – hit up a garage sale
- For dog owners – build an outdoor “litter box” to prevent grass issues
- Try Amazon for food/treats/toys
- If you are going to “clothe” your animal they have pretty awesome deals every once in awhile
- Large pet stores have AMAZING black Friday sales and they are usually not as insane as other major outlets
- Buy quality toys – the cheap ones in the dollar bins do not last
One plug for rescues – These organizations work their asses off to find amazing animals homes, if you are looking to add a pet to your family, please give your local rescue a chance! They are cheaper too!
Do you agree with the $500-$700 range for pets ownership (dogs and cats)? Do you have any other ways to save money with pets? If anyone has Pet Insurance please let me know, when I looked into it a few years ago it did not seem like a good deal.
I love pet pics – feel free to send me a link where I can see yours!
Some products that can help you:
Acorns: Acorns is an automation app that collects and invests your spare change when you make a purchase. I connected Acorns to my checking account and my credit card. If you are interested in trying it, you can use my referral code here (both of us will get $5 in our account)
Personal Capital: Personal Capital has a ton of great Free features, you can track your spending, net worth and even analyze your portfolio. It has top notch security and I am able to connect all of my accounts. Saves a ton of time! (I may be compensated if you use this link)