Be Inspired! / Family & Friends

Barking All the Way to the Bank

This is Freida, our dog. She’s been with us since she was a wee thing;  she’s four now and still seriously cute. She is love on four paws. A superior mutt, indeed.

We know that our beloved pets are priceless, but we also know they’re not free. If you’re like us, then you’ve written lots of checks at the vet’s office, paid for lots of food and biscuits and toys, but you’ve never really calculated the impact on said checking account annually or over time.


Most (every?) child wants a pet, but few (none?) understand the responsibility involved. So in order to get the Pet Care badge, a scout needs to know just how much it costs to care for a pet. So I sucked it up, put fingers to calculator, closed one eye, and tallied up the fiscal weight of love.

We had a one-time cost for spaying Freida in her first year, and we took the opportunity to have a microchip implanted in case she ever gets lost.*  That totalled about $75. And while this may seem nuts to some, we invested a couple hundred dollars earlier this year in doggy day care to improve her social skills around other dogs (worth it — she’s not scared of them anymore). Beyond that, our average annual expenses break down thusly:


Est. Annual Cost

Dog food (dry, but quality, bought about every six weeks)


Biscuits and treats (about $5/month)


Toys (a new one every other month or so, avg. $8/each)


Annual vet visit for checkup, bloodwork and shots


Est. one emergency vet visit/year (for illness or injury requiring tests or a stitch or two–see pix below for this year’s event!)


Flea medicine (using Comfortis  year round — fleas don’t die in Austin)


Heartworm medicine (using Interceptor year round)


Boarding ($36/night, avg. 11 nights a year)




That’s just a bit more than $100/month for a healthy 4 year old dog, with the largest percentage of money going towards healthcare ($598 or 47% — wow, sounds like what many of us mortals spend on healthcare).

I’ve saved money by giving her a summer haircut myself, but it always looks lousy. We should go ahead and spend the $60 in May to keep her both cool ‘n cute through the Texas summer.

After our own food and shelter, every penny spent on Freida is easily the best money we spend each year. We know there will be accidents along the way that require emergency care. We know there will be greater medical costs as she ages. Again, all worth it. I mean, did you see that face?

But let’s return to the task’s intent: to remind scouts everywhere that there’s a fiscal responsibility associated with having a pet of any kind. Not everyone is as lucky as we are; not everyone can afford to bring a dog into their homes.

If we couldn’t afford to have Freida, I’d still want to share the house with an animal that we could afford. My mom had an AMAZING guinea pig for many years; I’d start there. But right now, Freida’s costs are well within our reach, and frankly, I’m barking to adopt a second dog to join the pack.

Anyway, you can see that these are pix from Freida’s vet emergency vet visit this year. No broken bones, but she endured a couple of stitches and the humiliation of both a bright pink bandage–and my “grooming.”

And in the end, as the Mastercard commercial would say, “Freida’s love: Priceless.”


4 thoughts on “Barking All the Way to the Bank

  1. Pingback: Love on Four Paws | The Big Scout Project

  2. Beautiful job on the pet badge! I am too scared to calculate my own cost for 12 dogs and one cat. I can tell you a few things: I get a 20% “volume” discount at the vet. We buy a lower quality food in order to get the lowest price per pound (currently less than 60 cents) because we easily go through a 50 lb. bag in 10 days. More than that I can’t bear to know! But all the scout moms and dads out there should think about the life span of their pet before they commit. Often they wait to get a puppy until their child is in 7th or 8th grade, thinking that the kid can then be the caretaker. However, in that scenario, the dog, for instance, is still relatively young when junior goes off to college, leaving Mom and Dad the caretaker, just when they want to have some fun. A better bet would be to get an adult dog, say age 6 or 7. Just a thought…

    • WOW! Cathy, that’s a lot of love of four paws running around the house! Holy cow. Are you sure there’s not a book to be written in there somewhere? The advice about life spans and the timing of an adoption is right on, however — and I’ve never thought of it that way. Parents, are we listening? Many older animals are always up for adoption…

  3. Valuable info. Hubby and I have a dog and 3 cats and never quite looked at the cost that way. Would love another dog, but know we can’t afford, nor do we have the time for a new puppy. Must admit, she does have a cute face….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s