If You Are Struggling with Debt, Do Not Get Pets…

By:  Crystal Stemberger, Co-Owner

My husband and I got our first pet together about a month after I graduated from college and 3 weeks after we got married, lol.  It wasn’t the smartest financial decision we ever made, but it wasn’t the worst either.  We were pretty broke but we did have a small emergency fund, our first real jobs, and we had really, really wanted a dog all through college.  😉

Pets Can Be Expensive

We got lucky.  Miss Doxie faked an amazing personality at the Houston SPCA and we took her 7 year old butt home before she ever showed any of her negative personality traits, lol.  She ended up being a perfect fit for us – a fantastic apartment doggy with as few vet costs as possible for a living entity.  She’s made it through 3 big moves, a few foster dogs, lots of guests, and even gets along okay with Mr. Pug, who we adopted in 2009.

We love our dogs, but you have to keep in mind that pets cost money.  The basics are constant – food, supplies, meds, etc.  Then there are accidents, bad luck, and deeper medical issues.

Miss Doxie had a few teeth that needed to be removed when we first got her and has had a lumped removed yesterday from her belly.  Other than that, we’ve only needed to provide food, blankets, flea and heartworm meds, and a treatment once for pneumonia.  Overall, I can only estimate that we’ve spent about $4000 on her in 8 years.

Mr. Pug was special.  He’s a momma’s boy, came pretty healthy except for bad teeth like Miss Doxie, but then there were surprises.  In late 2010, he developed crazy allergies and it took about $2000 over about 6 months to figure out what was wrong and the best way to treat it.  Now he just eats special dried food and takes a cheap steroid pill every day.  That said, we have still spent at least $3500 on Mr. Pug in about 4 years.

That means that we’ve spent at least $7500 on dogs in the last 8 years.  That doesn’t seem so bad to me, but that is substantial money…

If You’re Struggling

Overall, if you are struggling to save money or pay off debt, pets may not be for you.  Unless you have set aside money for weird emergencies that pop up, a major visit to the vet (or worse, an emergency vet clinic) can set you back thousands of dollars.  That won’t help with your financial goals.  I know it probably hasn’t helped with ours, lol. Pets are great companions, provide a billion little blessings like simply being happy to see you, but they aren’t usually financially helpful overall.  Just something to think about if you’ve been considering getting a pet.

How much have your pets cost?  Any great stories or surprises?

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13 thoughts on “If You Are Struggling with Debt, Do Not Get Pets…

  1. Having pets is just like having a kid. My Pomeranian, Buddy, will be 19 years old on April 4th. I got him as a Bachelor in 1994. He has been with me through a marriage, 8 months later a divorce, and now 12 years of being with Kelly and the thing I wanted most; he made it to see my kids born!

    Luka and Lauryn are 6 and 8 years old and have a lot of memories with Buddy, as do I. So in that regard, I have been very blessed with my little guy! I haven’t even put pencil to paper to figure out what he has cost me over that time but I can tell you that he was worth every single penny…and then some! 🙂

    • Holy moly! 19 years old! Wow, congrats. 🙂 And it sounds like he really has been a true blessing…awwww….

  2. We’ve had two dogs over the past ten years that have had to have major ($3000/each) surgeries, plus all the other costs, so I hear you about pets not being cost effective. I love them like my family, so they get the same treatment, and I don’t regret any of it. I have a post coming out Friday about costs of puppies vs older dogs. There really isn’t much difference. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, you honestly don’t need a pet. Foster instead!

  3. You’re absolutely right. Pets are delightful, but you have to know ahead of time you can afford them. In a way, it’s like a nice car: a nice addition to your life, but you have to know you’re able to afford maintaining it…

  4. Two other things to consider when getting a dog: If you rent you may have to pay an extra pet deposit or month fee, and some insurance companies (both renters and homeowners) won’t cover certain dog breeds.

    Also, I think the choice to get a dog in the midst of the debt struggle is a personal choice. I’m an avid runner and a few years ago while running I was assaulted, because of this I was afraid to run by myself outside and was stuck in the gym for 2 years (some of you may say I should have gotten a running partner but I work a crazy schedule, it’s difficult to find someone at the exact same running level as you, and if you run long distance being on a treadmill for 2 hours is horrible). Even though we were still burrowing out of debt, my husband and I chose to get a canine running companion for me, with full knowledge it was expensive and would delay our debt freedom.

    This just goes under the category of what you are willing to sacrifice and what you aren’t willing to sacrifice in your journey out of debt. I could have kept running in a gym for three more years, but I felt as if the person who attacked me had taken a part of me and I was afraid that if I waited too long that I would lose it forever. Now as I run trails like a bad a$$ with my dog or cuddle with her on the couch on a Friday night I have no regrets. An added bonus: I don’t have to pay gym fees, and our weekends are filled with hiking/walking/cuddling our dog so we cut a bunch on entertainment.

    • Sounds like you got a self-defense device that just happens to be a snuggler, not just a pet. 😉 You are very right, sometimes you just have to make the conscious decision to trade off one thing for another and choose whichever path is better for you. Sounds like you made a great decision. 😀

  5. I definitely agree. I knew someone who was in debt but still had a pet and they would always complain about how expensive buy pet food and what not is. Then don’t get a pet if you can’t afford one!

  6. It’s really pretty expensive to maintain a pet. It’s like having another child with all the vaccination and other regular veterinary routines. Pets also limit your freedom to travel due to large demand of care and attention.

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