One of my earliest pet-related posts that got a big reaction was titled Cost of a Pet is $48,000!!! It was written tongue-in-cheek (though not everyone took it that way) but also meant to show people how there is a real and significant cost to having a pet.
I've covered the "cost of pets" topic off and on again since then, but it's been awhile since my last post. Couple that with the fact that it seems "my pet is costing me a fortune" pieces seem to be oozing out of the web as well as some personal experiences lately, and I thought it was time to post on the subject again.
The first piece I'd like to highlight is . The Consumerist details the high costs one cat owner incurred. Their highlights (costs from August 2009 until now):
- First-year vet checkup and vaccination rounds: $200
- Ear mites: $50 for meds
- Intestinal worms: $50 for meds
- Vet visit to figure out why his hair was falling out in nasty clumps: $200
- Ringworm: $50 for meds
- Anti-fungal medication for my boyfriend, who got ringworm from the cat: $10
- Neutered: $250
- Emergency vet visit because my roommate thought he had eaten a couple of her Adderall pills (yes, true story, and no, he had not): $200
- Urinary blockage 1: $500 for catheterization
- Urinary blockage 2: $500 for catheterization
- Urinary blockage 3: $1500 for overnight stay and catheterization
- Fancy dancy C/D or S/O prescription-only cat food to prevent future urinary blockages: $40/month x 16 months (and counting!) = $640 (and counting!)
- Vet visit because he was pooping blood: $200 for x-rays and TWO enemas
- Vet visit because he was pooping blood again: $150 to diagnose the problem as "stress"
- Pills for "stress": $50
Really? The cat is pooping blood because it's stressed? What does a cat have to be stressed about? Maybe he did eat some Adderall pills. :)
The next piece is from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff. She and her husband adopted a rescue dog with separation anxiety and (see the link for photos). The repair costs coupled with the initial expenses of adopting him ended up costing them almost $3,000 over a 2-3 week period (they eventually returned him to the shelter.)
Then there's TV. My kids and I were watching the other night when the owners of this place said they wanted to remodel their basement because they needed income. The reason? Their dog had "major health issues" and they were now in debt $25,000 as a result. Yikes!!!!
Finally, when we went home to my parents' house we saw the damage her dog had done to the garage (ate molding, destroyed a wall) as well as chewed the deck in various locations. They weren't sure why, but the dog did it one day and hasn't done anything since. They aren't going to repair it but I'm guessing it would cost them several hundred dollars at least to get things back to normal.
My purpose in highlighting these stories isn't to bash on pets, but to remind us all that there are real costs associated with owning a pet (see here for estimates from the SPCA) and that those costs aren't inconsequential. In addition, pets can have major issues (as shown above) that can significantly increase their cost. As such, anyone considering a pet needs to 1) be sure to count the cost in advance and make sure they can afford the pet and 2) increase their emergency fund just in case they get a pet that needs $25k in medical treatment or decides to rack up $3k in repair bills. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a financial bind if a pet emergency occurs.