April 26, 2010

Our New 4 Legged Money Pit

Recently my wife and I adopted a dog.    She is an older small dog whos owner was no longer able to care for her.  So far we've fairly quickly spent north of $2000 on the dog in the first few weeks.      I jokingly call the dog a "money pit" but I don't have that kind of negative feeling about it nor do I feel that the money we spent is wasted.  A large part of the expense has been vet bills.   I talked a while ago about what pets cost.   So it shouldn't have come as any surprise to me that the dog might end up being expensive.  

Here is what we've spent thus far...

Vet Bills
We've had vet bills $160, $350 and another for over $1100.    The first bill was just a routine checkup when we first got the dog.   But then she got sick and we had to get her tested and then some minor surgery done.  No need to worry, it wasn't anything too serious (teeth problems) and she seems to have recovered fine.   Hopefully the dog's major health problems are over both for her comfort and for our financial well being.  

Dog house & "stuff"
We spent $250 on a carrier and dog house.   We also spent about $100 on other miscellaneous dog stuff.   We have a couple bills from Petco and Petsmart on dog stuff.   I know we bought leashes, dishes, dog bed, a dog toy, and I'm sure some other stuff.  Somehow that all added up to $100.   I think when we talked about getting the dog I somehow just discarded thoughts of having to buy much "stuff". Maybe I assumed we woulnd't really need any of it.   But then when we got the dog I found out we did actually end up having a need for a bunch of "stuff".

Then there is the $150 we spent on boarding her when we went out of town for a long weekend.   Boarding the dog is one of the expenses that I actually thought about before we adopted her.   We can generally leave our cat at home without worrying about her since she has a litter box. But the dog has to be taken outside so we're looking at dog sitter or boarding. Then every time we go on vacation or are out of town we will have to pay for boarding or find a friend/relative to dog sit.

We're spending about $15-$20 a month for food.   The food for the dog is actually not very expensive though it will add up.   She is a fairly small toy size dog so she doesn't eat all that much.   But we do have to buy her canned ground food since she is pretty old and has fairly bad teeth and can't handle dry dog food very well.

Expenses thus far total $2,130:
Vet = $1,610
Stuff = $350
Boarding = $150
Food = $20

Now over half of that is vet bills due to the dog getting sick and needing surgery.  If she hadn't gotten sick then we'd have spent only about $700.

A good chunk of our spending thus far is not ongoing costs and so our future expenses shouldn't be as bad.
Future annual expenses will probably run us around $750 to $900
Vet $200
Boarding $350-$500
Food $200

My wife and I had not really budgeted for the dog.   I don't know why we didn't think it through, but we didn't.   When I wrote about what pets cost I clearly recommended that people properly budget for a pet and I then totally failed to use my own advice.   I had in my mind a clear expectation that the dog would cost us a chunk of money but we didn't sit down and talk about the likely or potential costs. On the day we decided to adopt her I would have probably given a ballpark guess that she would end up costing us "a few hundred dollars a year" based on nothing more than my basic perception of the cost of animals.   I wouldn't say that getting the dog was a 'financial mistake' since we're able to handle the additional cost and we would have gotten the dog in any case.

The cost of a pet can easily add up and you really should make sure you budget for the expense before you get the pet.   I didn't take my own advice in this matter but we really should have.

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