My Dog Ate My Budget

We got a dog! It’s been fun and life-changing and wonderful and also VERY EXPENSIVE. Obviously, I made a spreadsheet detailing the expected costs (which the boyfriend found amusing), but I was way off the mark. Now that we’re a week in, I think we’ve discovered most of the initial costs of dog ownership. Below is a breakdown of what we’re spending on our newest family member.

Upfront Costs- $361

  • Adoption fee- $140
  • Dog bowls- $11
  • Brush- $13 (a “Furminator” knockoff)
  • Shampoo- $8
  • Nail clippers- $13
  • Styptic powder- $6 (stops the bleeding if you cut nails too short)
  • Enzymatic cleaner- $13
  • Crate- $56
  • Toys- $18
  • Collar- $9
  • Leash- $18
  • Tag- $16
  • Seatbelt- $40 (okay, it’s a little excessive but I think it’s worth it)

Recurring Costs (Annual)- $1,552

  • Pet insurance- $307
    • $500 deductible, 90% reimbursement, no annual limit
    • $4,605 in premiums over 15 years
    • We could have self-insured, but we didn’t want to be faced with any expensive, emotionally-charged decisions
  • License- $10
  • Microchip database fee- $20
  • Doggy bags- $15
  • Vet bills- $400 per year (estimate)
  • Quality dog food- $450
  • Dog-sitting when the grandparents aren’t available- $200
  • Toys, treats, & miscellany- $150

Unexpected Costs
I’ve always had slight allergies to dogs but assumed I would be fine. About three days in, I started wheezing and sniffling nonstop. By five days, I had lost my voice. I was faced with returning the dog, sounding like the Godfather for the rest of my life, or allergy-proofing my home.

I went with the third option and ordered some air purifiers from Ebay with a 20% off coupon to get rid of the dander (and hopefully some of the dog smell!). We also got a Roomba knockoff from Amazon with some gift cards. We don’t own a nice vacuum anyways (just a hand held and a stick one) so it seemed reasonable to splurge a little. Plus we’re incredibly lazy about housework and it’s cool to have a robot clean for us.

  • Air purifiers- $150
  • Roomba knockoff- $250

The dog also really hates being in a crate. Although we’re working on this with lots of love and peanut butter, we had to find some place to put him while we’re at work. We decided our upstairs bathroom would be perfect. It’s weirdly large for a bathroom, has a window, and is mostly water/chew-proof.

We came home the first day and apart from one house-training accident, the bathroom seemed in tact. But then we noticed an unusual amount of water on the floor. Somehow, the toilet had cracked and was leaking. It might have been a coincidence that it broke that day or maybe the dog did something to it. Either way, the boyfriend’s dad had an extra toilet to give us, which he installed for free. We tried to take him out for dinner but he declined. He did have a beer while he was here, though.

  • New toilet- free from boyfriend’s dad (would have been $100 plus labor for a new one)
  • Sam Adams- $2

Our dog now spends his days in our basement. We used some old garden trellises we had to section part of it off, but he keeps escaping (Houndini style) so we’re probably going to buy some kind of actual fencing.

  • Some kind of actual fencing- $120 (estimate)

Where to Save

As you probably noticed from my upfront costs section, we’re going to be doing the grooming ourselves. We chose a short-haired “breed” (okay, he’s a mutt) that’s pretty low maintenance so we don’t have to deal with monthly trips to the groomers. I might still splurge for gland expression if needed—that’s one grooming item I don’t want to DIY.

  • Grooming- SAVED $50 per visit

My Amazon cart originally had two orthopedic dog beds—one for the living room and one for our bedroom. The boyfriend thought that was ridiculous, so instead we “made” some beds out of old blankets, rugs, and an old camping mat. We don’t really care if he sheds, chews, or pees on any of these “beds.” He spends most of his time on top of us or our couch anyways, so he doesn’t even need one in the first place.

  • Dog beds- SAVED $80

We also wanted to keep him confined to certain rooms, at least for the first few weeks so he wouldn’t get into anything. Instead of buying several baby gates, we use our furniture and the cardboard box his crate came in to block off doorways.

  • Baby gates- SAVED $90

Was it worth it to spend all this money on a dog?
The answer to this is a resounding YES. We haven’t even had him a week and I’m already in love. I probably should have put all of this money towards retirement, but you can’t snuggle with a 401 (k).


Did your pets destroy your budget? Leave your answer in the comments.

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