My Pets and Their Costs

Everyone knows that I am an insane animal person, right? OK well you now know. I often do the most ridiculous things for my pets, and most people don’t understand. The other day before my dogs were to get their yearly vaccinations, I sang the “SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS” song to them. Yes, I actually did…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 31, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

My Pets and Their CostsEveryone knows that I am an insane animal person, right? OK well you now know. I often do the most ridiculous things for my pets, and most people don’t understand.

The other day before my dogs were to get their yearly vaccinations, I sang the “SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS” song to them. Yes, I actually did that.

Today’s post will most be about the background on my pets and their costs and soon I will have another posts detailing how you can take the right steps to finding the perfect pet for you.

Background

Both of our dogs are technically “rescued.” Our bigger dog (pictured below) was from a rescue agency.

She was found by the agency at around 6 weeks old tied to the ground with a chain.

Her chain was so short that she could not move at all. People are REALLY horrible out there!

Now, she is about 90 pounds of love. They think she’s a Brittany/Pitt/Boxer mix. Seriously the nicest dog ever (but has a mean bark and protects me!).

She is the favorite of everyone. Great personality, always perfect, even though she does jump, she just wants some kisses.

Our other dog is a French Bulldog. He wasn’t technically rescued from an agency, but we bought him from a neighbor. They bought him and it turned out that their other dog didn’t get along with him at all (fighting a lot, and their other dog was an Olde English Bulldog, so they are HUGE), so they had to get rid of their newly acquired pup as soon as possible. He is around 15 pounds now (he is a runt).

He is super cute and loyal, but he does have a bad temper. I’m guessing it’s because he’s about half the size he’s supposed to be but is scarily strong (all muscle, our vet laughs because he is built), so he doesn’t get along with any dogs his own size and can’t find any friends since he’s so small 🙁

We used to have a third dog. We rescued her with knowing that she needed around $200 a month in medications. She was an Olde English Bulldog and only around 4-5 years old. She has the same coloring and sort of the same look as our dog pictured below, so we just couldn’t say no. She ended up passing away 2 months later. I’m still very sad about this. But we gave her a really good 2 months.

Animal costs can definitely add up quickly, but I think they are well worth it. My dogs are wonderful and without them I would truly be very sad.

 

Food

Food for our small dog is not very much when compared to our bigger dog, but he still eats a lot for his size (about 2.5 cups a day). Our bigger dog eats around 5 cups a day. We try to buy decent dog food for them. We often switch between Beneful and Iams. You’re probably wondering why I say that we switch dog food brands since technically you are only supposed to give dogs one type of food forever. Our dogs WILL not eat the same food for a long period of time. I have talked with the vet about this and he said it’s fine.

Yes, I know these brands are not the best but I haven’t really researched further even though I should. What types of dog food do you buy?

I’ve never really kept track, but we probably spend around $450 a year on dog food.

To save on food, toys and treats, make sure you get a customer loyalty card if you can. I usually am able to save a lot of money with this. Shop around as well. I found that pet stores generally have much higher priced food (not sure why), whereas Target and Walmart seemed to have the best prices.

 

Toys and Treats

I am horrible when it comes to buying toys and treats for my dogs. I find a lot of joy in going to PetSmart and Petco because I love buying them stuff. The boy usually gets mad because they have so many toys now.

I probably spend around $40 a month on toys, treats and bones for them.

I don’t really recommend extremely cheap bones, mainly because lately there have been a lot of stories about how bone and raw hides are breaking in dog’s stomaches and are causing them to die. That terrifies me. However, with toys, I usually just buy cheap items from Target or the dollar store, as my dogs will destroy nearly all of their toys in one night.

So I found that it was not worth it to buy the $15 toys anymore. Oh yeah, and they also hate Kongs and will not play with them, so that does not work either.

 

Medical

There are a lot of medical costs when it comes to having pets. When we first got our dogs, there were even more medical costs. I’m not for sure how much we spent at the time, but we did get all of their shots, plus get them spayed and neutered.

To save on spaying and neutering, see if there are any local organizations that will offer this for cheap. This is what we did. The Humane Society does spays and neuters for around $30. I would definitely look into this, as our vet wanted over $200, and I’ve heard in other states that some charge $800.

I’m not sure if they do this all over, but the Petcos around here do really low cost vaccinations. I was able to bring up both dogs to get all of their shots and one to get micro-chipped, and it cost $150 (would’ve been only $90 for both, but our city charges a $12 surcharge “tax” for each dog that goes to the vet, and the microchip was $35). Usually it would be around $800 for their yearly shots and for the little one to get micro-chipped. So $150 instead of $800 is MUCH better.

For other dogs it might not be as expensive, so you’re probably wondering why it’s usually $800. Well my little dog is a French Bulldog runt, and he needs lots of shots because his immune system is horrible. And then my bigger dog (pictured below) finds joy in eating animals in the backyard, so we always make sure she gets every shot imaginable so that she doesn’t get sick.

Preventative care is key here. Make sure to always get yours pets checked for heart worm and that they receive all necessary shots. Not only would it be sad if they became very sick, but once they’re sick, you are spending much more money than what you would’ve spent if they would have just received their shots.

My girl the other day while waiting for her shots

Even though we did save a ton of money, I don’t know if I would do it again. I actually enjoy bringing them to their actual vet so that they can get one-on-one time with him (I love our vet). At Petco, they pretty much just line all the dogs up and give them shots quickly. It’s definitely efficient, but my bigger dog hated that it wasn’t the normal vet. Has anyone else ever gone to Petco for their cheaper vaccinations?

Our smaller dog will need many medical treatments soon. Our vet has recommended an endless list of things that he needs since he is a French Bulldog and also a runt. Laser nose surgery (his nose is super small and he’s always our of breath) is one of the things that we will be getting next. She said he doesn’t need it now but will need it when he’s older.

 

Grooming

We don’t take them to the groomer as often as we probably should. In fact, we’ve only taken them a couple of times. They’re both short haired dogs, so we just bathe them in our shower or in the backyard usually.

However, I recently just found out that Petsmart will do a full-service groom for our smaller dog for only $10, so we might start doing that. They said our bigger dog would start at $40, so I’m not sure. If only they knew that our smaller dog would be much more hard to give a bath to haha.

Grooming your pet at home will of course save much more money than having it done somewhere else. However, if your dog (like mine) absolutely refuses to have their nails clipped (but loves getting it done by their vet), then it might be better just to bring them somewhere so that you don’t end up hurting them.

How much do you spend on your pets? 

 


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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. plantingourpennies

    Wow – your pups make KittyPoP look like a true bargain! He's about $20/month in food, litter, toys, and his yearly vet check-up.

  2. We spent $430 this weekend on allergy testing and temporary meds to get my dog’s insane allergies under control. I just really hope the allergy test finds something.

    1. I hope your dog gets better.

  3. Pets are so worth the cost. We usually buy one large 30-40 pound bag of dog food per month and then 12 cans of wet dog food. It's roughly $100 per month.

    1. We used to buy wet dog food, but our two dogs would fight over it. It never went well with them, they just like it too much.

  4. Rachel

    We've spent thousands and thousands on our pets, especially our older dog. We have three cats, and two dogs.

    The outdoor cat (she came with the house) is low maintenance. Vaccinations, monthly flea meds, food. She's about $30/month.

    The indoor cats are pretty low maintenance too. Vaccinations, food, litter. About $30/month between the two of them.

    My older dog gets vaccinations, monthly flea and hearworm meds, food, in the spring allergy meds at $100/month. Right now he's on a homecooked diet, and so is my little one. He's had surgery for a luxating patella ($2k), had complications with being fixed ($800), and lots of testing, trial meds, etc. Not counting the "extra" surgeries, he's about $50/month.

    My younger dog gets vaccinations, monthly flea and heartworm meds, food. She's about $30/month.

    I think the best advice I've ever gotten was to feed the best food I could. Good food equals fewer vet bills, generally speaking. Also, brush your dogs' teeth, especially if they're prone to dental disease!

    If you google dog food ratings, you can find some good sources that break down the content of dog foods for you and how good they are for your pets or not. Personally, I won't feed my dogs a lot of common commercially prepared foods, as they're full of fillers and chemicals. My cats and dogs don't get corn and junk in their food. My cats currently eat Wellness. My dogs, as I mentioned, are currently on a home-cooked diet per their vet, but have eaten Wellness, Taste of the Wild, etc.

    1. Jealous that you can have so many animals! We can only have 2 dogs and 1 cat, or 2 cats and 1 dog in my city. And thank you for that tip, I will definitely be googling dog food.

  5. I think the only major expense we have is food but that's only about $30 a month. I give them there vaccinations myself, that I purchase from the vet I used to work for. She knows I know how to do it and that I can do a thorough annual exam so she's comfortable just letting me bring them in if they get sick. Luckily, neither has ever needed to go in because of being sick. For dog toys I give them my children's stuffed animals that they don't like. Surprisingly, the dogs know which animals are off limits.

    1. Wow that's great that you can do the shots yourself!

  6. mycanuckbuck

    Do you sing the :"Shots" song to the tune of "Spam Spam..'? :). I don't know exactly what we spend on the cat. Vet costs aren't too bad- just 1 main visit a year (about 150.00 dollars) and a few extras to get her nails trimmed. Litter and food – probably 25 bucks a month. She's worth it – unless she's being moody.! Mind you, that's par for the course for cats..
    My recent post Birthday freebies!

  7. John S @ Frugal Rules

    Pet expenses can definitely add up quickly, especially if you have dogs as has been stated. We used to have two dogs and it always amazed me how much we'd have to spend on them each year. My in-laws took them from us a few years ago, so I am glad to be rid of the expense. We still have a cat and he, for the most part, is reasonable when it comes to expenses.

  8. Sounds like a great deal on the shots!

  9. I take it from my monthly food budget as well. And I agree, dogs are worth it.

  10. Haha my dogs are picky in that they like variety. They will not eat if they have to eat the same thing for more than a month.

  11. I agree, they definitely don't have to be.

  12. Crystal @ PET

    You know we spend some major moolah on our rescues. I didn't sign up for it, but I knew it was a possibility. Mr. Pug needs $150 of medicines a year, $450 a year on just his food, and $300-$400 just for his two main checkups to make sure his steroids aren't killing his liver too fast. And this $1000 a year is just after the $3000 we spent on figuring out all of his problems over the last 3 years…

    But by far the most expensive pet we ever had was Oreo the Pointer…had her for 2 weeks and spent nearly $3000 on carpet, vets, medicines, and kennels. She had pneumonia, passed that on to our two dogs, and had severe separation anxiety issues. She literally pulled apart a metal welded kennel and dug through to the subfloor in less than 3 hours…

    But at least our first dog together, Ms. Doxie, is a pretty healthy one. We've had her for 7 years, she is now 14 years old, and she costs less than $500 a year total.

  13. Well I think it really depends on the breed of the dog. He eats a lot, but he is pure muscle and EXTREMELY bulky. It's almost funny.

  14. Haha that's why we love dogs, they're always in a good mood.

  15. Good for you for saying no! It can definitely be hard.

  16. Haha I love pet posts, so yes you should write one as well.

  17. I agree, I couldn't put a price on a life either. I love my dogs as if they were my children and would spend an endless amount of money to help them if something were wrong.

  18. Thanks so much for letting me sponsor! I'm excited. Also, that is great that you have two rescues! I am completely for rescues and against puppy mill pet stores 🙁

  19. Yes, I know you guys are crazy too! I'm glad it's not just me 🙂

  20. Haha my dogs do that too. Right now I can't seem to find a single toy of theirs. HMMM

  21. That is great that you raw feed! This is something that I want to do.

  22. Yes, she was about to be put to sleep, but she was a great dog even though she only lived for 2 more months.

  23. haha awww! Yes register for a pup! That would be so cute. I think they are worth it. They are great dogs. If you do end up getting a Frenchie, you should try looking up French Bulldog rescues around you.

  24. thethriftyspendthrift

    Right now I have two cats and since they are strictly indoors, they don't really need much in terms of vet care.

    I love dogs. My husband is super allergic so I may never be able to have one but they are very pricey. My poor dog (at my parents' house) just got treated for tapeworm from eating a flea.

  25. Erica

    Eeek, please try and budget for a better dog food. Iams and Beneful are all corn, wheat, and meat by-products (a Google search on this will make you gag). Dogs cannot digest corn and wheat and this kind of food usually causes them to have more frequent bowel movements, gas, and other issues down the road.

    We feed our dog Natural Balance and it's about $50/month (but this is also in Hawaii, so I imagine this food is a tad cheaper on the mainland). Natural Balance, Blue Buffalo, Wellness, Orijen, Innova, Canidae, etc. are all great and slightly more expensive options. A good rule of thumb is to at least never purchase a dog food you can find in a grocery store. And beware of treats from China! There's been a lot of recalls on these lately. Don't be fooled into Science Diet either, it's just as crappy as Iams. Vets are paid to promote the brand.

    But to get back to your original question, we spend about $75/month on our 1 1/2-year-old Pointer mix. Food, toys, treats, monthly heart worm prevention. We also have health insurance for him at about $350/year, well worth it, IMO. His annual vet visits usually cost us about $20 at the vet clinic on the military base we live on.
    My recent post Travel Deals Make Me Happy!

    1. Stephanie

      Just wanted to second Erica's sentiment on the food!! We give Elvis Natural Balance's L.I.D. (limited ingredient diet) line and it's been great. We usually switch flavors each time to keep things interesting for him, but the great thing with the L.I.D. is that they have little or no grain (depending on the flavor). It's more expensive, ranging from $48-59 for a 28 lb bag (again, depending on the flavor), but our 51 lb pointer only needs 3 cups a day to keep his weight up. And not to be gross, but the lack of grain in his diet makes his poop more solid, so it's easier to pick up. 😉

  26. chocoliv

    you sound like an awesome person — can't go wrong with a dog lover, i always say 😉

    -liv http://chocolivlovelaugh.blogspot.kr/

  27. Mary

    Several vets have recommended Nutro to me, since it doesn't contain corn and the first ingredient is meat. It ran me about $50 for a 35 lb bag every 2 months. I did some research, and it turns out Kirkland's best has the same ingredient list and is $26 for 40 lb, which lasts 10 weeks around here.

  28. I have a Great Dane and two cats, so you can imagine I spend a pretty penny on my furry children. The Dane is now about $40 per month for food/treats/toys and the cats $20 per month for food and litter. Vet bills run about $500 per year. Boarding costs about $500 per year as well because I always treat the dog to a day of doggie daycare when she boards. We bathe the Dane 2 to 3 times per year outside, so I only have to take her to the groomers once in the winter at $40. All in all, we spend a lot on our pets, but they are definitely worth it!