Pet Expenses for 2013

It’s a new year and it’s always, somewhat, fun to look back and see the past year in numbers. It was sobering to see a picture of 2013 in terms of dog expenses. I can’t say that it was a complete surprise since, I’m the one  constantly pulling out my credit card at the cash register, but it helps me understand what happened and how to save money this year.

I spent a total of  $1,857.43 on dog goods and services. It looks something like this:

2013 Pet Cost Pie Chart

Pet Expenses 2013

I divided the costs into the following categories:

  • Medical/Wellbeing: Veterinarian costs,  Rx Medications, Flea Medication Treatments
  • Food: Kibble, Food Toppers, Training Treats, Treats
  • Hygiene: Haircuts  (PetSmart), Shampoo/Conditioner, Toothpaste/Toothbrushes, Grooming Tools
  • Supplies: Poop bags, Collars/Leashes, Pet Tracking, Toys, Water Bottle, Bowls, Car Cover

A little under half of the money spent went towards medical care of one sort or another. Ellie and Argos both got very sick at some point in 2013. Ellie got spayed and had a couple of ear infections and a mysterious rash  on her bum. Argos had a bout of diarrhea that lasted quite a while. Lab tests and prescription medications  ensued for both. The only expense I could have avoided if I had understood the issue at once, were the ear infections. An expensive learning curve.

Ellie and Argos are both shelter dogs with dubious beginnings, if I had to guess, puppy mill products of sorts.  I am not ignorant to the idea that health issues may arise in the future due to this very fact. These types of cost can happen to anyone and at any time. So for those of you considering dog adoption, keep these numbers in mind. There are many dogs in desperate need of adoption, but adopting a dog is still a huge responsibility financially and emotionally. Dropping off a dog at a shelter because of an inability to pay for their medical bills is a sad thing to see because unlike what people believe, shelters don’t keep drop offs for too long. Sometimes not even a week. Loving dogs that would otherwise be healthy but for a few pricey antibiotics don’t live to see another day. If adopting, be realistic. These costs happen.

“When you brought this dog into your home you signed an unwritten contract to feed it, care for it, and, yes, to provide medical care as needed.”

-Dr. George Coleman (played by Justin Kirk) Animal Practice 

Below is a map of WHEN the most expenses happened and it is no surprise that July came up the winner with 31%. Ellie had been adopted a few weeks earlier and so general checkups, first round of vaccinations, spaying, and  ear infection #1 took place shortly after that. Add to that new roommate accommodations: new dog bed, leash, collar, harness and a blanket we dropped off the day before bringing her home from the Humane Society so her litter mates could sleep on it. We thought it might help her sleep through the first night at home. Needless to say, the jig was up quickly and all the blanket did was stink to high heaven.

Monthly spending percentages.

Monthly spending percentages.

I also had to switch flea treatment medications. We went from Frontline Plus to prescription only Revolution. When Ellie got a rash on her bum, the Veterinarian wanted to eliminate flea bite irritation and convinced me to switch to something better. He claims Frontline Plus no longer works as it should and has lost its effectiveness. Apparently, it is not normal to see fleas on dogs while on scheduled and continued flea treatments. I went from spending 34.99 for a 3-month supply of Frontline Plus to spending $54.99 for 3-month supply of Revolution, times 2.

I am determined to cut this bill in half in 2014.  However, they will continue to receive the regular and necessary medical care and good quality food, for is  this not the best way to avoid health problems? I sure hope so!

So I’ll have to get creative in cutting costs. For example, treats are nice, but at some point I had 4 different treat bags going at the same time. I think this year I’ll stick to training treats and a treat after teeth brushing. Treats are just that, treats. I once saw a woman claim that her little Shih Tzu was a ‘delicate’ eater, meaning the dog ate very, very little. Then she showed about 10 different treats the dog gets to eat during the day. For a small dog such as a Shih Tzu, 10 different dog treats in various amounts, is a lot of food and she was still offered a full bowl of dog food. No wonder the dog was a ‘delicate’ eater, she was full! I’ll take a huge slice of chocolate cake over a properly balanced meal any day of the week (if I possessed absolutely no guilt/shame and fat just melted away with the heat of exercise thoughts).

Maybe I’ll even try making my own dog treats… dog

I also plan on looking into dog insurance, see if it might be worth anything to put both dogs on a plan of some sort. Expect a article on this very subject.

Like I mentioned in earlier posts, I began grooming the dogs myself back in November and I plan on continuing with that through out this year. That’s gonna be a good chunk of moolah saved! As I continue on this home grooming quest I hope I actually get better at giving them haircuts. They continue to look frumpy even after I’m done with them.

My goal is to see whether it is possible to spend $1,000 or less on two dogs, whilst providing them with excellent food and preventative care. I’ll post a monthly expense report to see how I do in my attempts to save money.

How do you keep costs down? Let me know I would love to hear!