I took Ralph to the vet yesterday for his regular yearly checkup and shots. There was good news; the vet heard a mild heart murmur last year, but this year he couldn’t find it. It may still be there, but it’s not getting worse. Ralph has been having a little bit of stiffness or weakness in his hips, so the vet also started him on a glucosamine powder (boy, does it stink). The total bill was about $180. This morning, I ordered another six months of Revolution (heartworm and flea medicine) for $104.95. This past Sunday, I spent $380 to get Ralph out of the spa/kennel, where he had spent his vacation while I was in NC. That’s $664.95 in 4 days.
Overall, though, Ralph is relatively inexpensive for an old dog. With one exception, he’s never had to go to the vet in between yearly appointments. His food costs about $40/month; the Revolution is about $105 every six months; a large box of dog biscuits at $7.00 lasts several months; and there’s the occasional replacement toy. The spa/kennel is expensive, but he doesn’t go there very often.
Get Rich Slowly had a post last week called The High Cost of Cats and Dogs. (J.D. has four cats.) He gave a couple of numbers for the yearly cost for various animals; for a dog, one estimate was $2000 and another was $730. I think Ralph falls somewhere in the middle, depending on how many vacations we take.
In one sense, pets are an unnecessary expense. I wouldn’t be dipping into my emergency fund this month if I didn’t have Ralph. But he’s mine and I love him, and it’s my responsibility to care for him. Having said that, when Ralph is gone, I won’t be in a big hurry to get another animal. I’d like to build up a much bigger savings cushion before I adopt again.
The cost of purchasing a puppy or kitten is outrageous, in my opinion. I’ve seen $1000 to $1200 for large breed pups. That’s nuts. Ralph was given to me free of charge, leash and collar included. An adult, trained greyhound from Greyhound Pets of America is $200. Adoption fees from shelters are usually under $100. I would never pay more than an adoption fee for an animal, when there are so many that can be adopted for very little expense.
If Ralph develops an expensive medical problem now, at age 12 1/2, I don’t know how far I’d go in treating it. It would depend on what the prognosis was. I’d make sure he wasn’t in pain, one way or the other. I don’t think I’d sink myself deeply into credit card debt, regardless of prognosis. It’s hard to know what I’d do, of course, unless something happens. When my greyhound got to be in bad shape, I couldn’t even afford a third prescription drug for him (he was on two already) – and he was 13 1/2, well beyond the average length of life for a retired racer.
I’m sure I’ll have another animal at some point, and it’ll probably be a big dog. That’s all I’ve ever had. And, a big, barking dog is a pretty good substitute for an expensive security system with fees.
Not to mention – they’re a lot nicer to come home to! 🙂