dog sitting on a couch

Costs of Pet Ownership: More of Our Actual Expenses with a Dog

Back in 2021, my wife and I decided to add a dog to our family. After a lengthy search, that summer, we brought Rigby home. Soon thereafter, I shared a post detailing the expenses we’d encountered as new pet owners.

Now, as we mull the idea of potentially getting a “sibling” for Rigby, we’ve been thinking about what costs that would bring. While we’re not ready for that quite yet, this did lead me to realize that an update on our pet ownership spending was due. So, what does having a dog cost us on an annual basis? Let’s take a look at some of the more one-off and recurring expenses.

What We Spend on Our Dog

dog laying on a couch

A recap

In my first article, penned within a month of bringing Rigby home, I looked at some of the initial costs we had. Those included some basic supplies (collar, leash, bed, bowls, etc.), services (spaying, microchip registration, etc.), and other expenses, such as pet insurance. Since then, one change is that we no longer have to pay pet rent because, well, we no longer rent! Also, while I noted her original food costs in that posts, we’ve since made some adjustments, which we’ll discuss more below.

With that said, here are some of the costs we’ve experienced since.

Vet bills, meds, and more

When it comes to owning a pet, vet visits can be a major source of expenses. Sidenote: that’s exactly why we reupped our pet insurance policy (at a cost of $254 for the year). Indeed, ensuring that our doggy remains healthy has come at a financial cost — although it’s all been predictable so far.

Luckily for us, outside of her initial visit, spay surgery, her annual checkups, and one quick stop-in for a vaccine, Rigby hasn’t had to go to the vet. Because of this, I can currently peg the yearly expense at $550. That includes her regular vaccines, the visits associated with them, and a year of her flea/tick/heartworm medication.

Training

Also in my previous post, I mentioned that we were mulling options for training. Well, as I later revealed in a separate article, we ended up choosing a training package that included five in-home classes as well as six months of group classes.

The cost? $2,145. Yes, that’s an awful lot, but we’ve been thrilled with the results. As I like to explain, these classes helped provide us the language with which we can communicate to Rigby, which has been great. So, while it wasn’t fun to hand over that much money at the start, I think it was a smart purchase overall — and it was a one-time, non-recurring expense.

Crate

Funny enough, for the first few months that we had Rigby, we didn’t have a real crate for her. That’s mostly because we didn’t really have a reason to leave her alone during those early weeks. Of course, that eventually changed — and, since she couldn’t exactly be trusted not to get into trouble if given free reign, we knew we needed to buy a crate.

We managed to find a Kong crate on sale at Petsmart for around $120 and we were able to use a coupon that knocked $24 off of that price. To our surprise and delight, as soon as we set up the crate for the first time, Rigby stepped right in and laid down to relax. That said, while she enjoys spending time in what we call her “flat” overall, she certainly doesn’t appreciate it as much when she’s forced to stay in there and we leave her all alone.

Not only has this purchase been a great investment as it allows us to run errands without worrying about her, but it’s also been useful away from home. Because the crate can easily be folded down, it’s come with us on multiple trips. In other words, it was $100 (or so) well spent.

Food (revised)

As I stated at the top, we’ve recently gone through a few changes regarding Rigby’s daily meals. First, after she ended up gaining some weight, we cut back a bit on her food. Then, when we moved to the house and she started getting more exercise (via running up and down stairs and such), we notched back up a bit. Still, she’s eating less than she was overall.

Next, while the IAMS still makes up the bulk of her meal, we’ve mixed things up a bit. For example, we’ve taken to purchasing some Stella & Chewy’s dog food from our neighboring pet store and serving it to her at a 1:3 ratio with the IAMS. On top of that, in the morning, she usually enjoys some scrambled eggs with her kibble while, at night, she gets some Stella & Chewy’s meal toppers. Finally, most recently, we’ve been giving her Dog is Human daily vitamins.

The complexity of her meals means that calculating a monthly cost isn’t so simple. Instead, I’ll just list out of price for each ingredient:

  • IAMS (50 lbs): $65 – note: even this is way up from the $53 per bag we paid when we first got her.
  • Stella & Chewy’s food (3.5 lbs.): $25
  • Eggs (dozen): $2.50
  • Stella & Chewy’s toppers (13 oz.): $30
Frenchie dressed up sitting in a dog bed

Toys, treats, and accessories

We never intended to be the types of “pet parents” that would spoil our dog… and yet it’s just so easy to do. From treats to toys to clothing (that she probably doesn’t even really like), we can’t help but splurge on our girl.

I will note, however, that our toy-buying budget has shrunk as of late. Previously, we were getting Rigby these leather toys that she loved, but also tended to destroy with ever-hastening speed. So, we’ve moved on from those and found toys that she enjoys just as much but last longer under her reign of terror. In all, I’d say we’ve probably spent about $80 on toys for her in the past year.

As for treats, these could probably have been included in the food section, but I think there’s a distinction. The more expensive portion of our treat regimen is her dental treats. We give these to her twice a week. So, the $21 bag with 21 treats lasts us for about 10 weeks.

And then there’s the clothes. Early on, we did purchase her a coat (that I used my Platinum card’s Saks credit for) and a couple of cheap hoodies. More recently, we got her a raincoat, which was on sale at BoxLunch for only a few dollars. We also couldn’t resist getting her Christmas pajamas from Buc-ee’s when we saw them. For what it’s worth, we also briefly considered getting matching human onesies so we could also take a holiday card photo, but we came to our senses on that one. Phew.

Anyway, all together, we’ve probably spent $150 on clothes for the dog. Yes, that sentence does make me cringe a bit. Then again, just look at that photo!

Boarding, dog-sitting, and pet fees

Since joining our family, Rigby has come with us on quite a few adventures. Alas, there are times when it simply doesn’t make sense to bring a dog along with us.

Luckily for us, on two trips (including one two-week long trip), we’ve been able to have family take care of Rigby. But, over the holidays, we decided it was best to have her boarded for the first time. Apparently she did pretty well there as her report card said she was “an absolute angel.”

One other time, we didn’t ditch her overnight but did hire someone on Rover to watch her for the day. While we’d do this again, we haven’t yet.

Finally, to celebrate our anniversary last year, Bekah and I spent a night at the Hotel Vandivort in downtown Springfield. Rather than leave Rigby home or with a sitter, we decided to let her tag along. While Hotel V is pet-friendly, we did have to pay a pet fee. So, since this expense came as an alternative to boarding or pet setting, I’m going to count it in this section.

Here’s how these three costs broke down:

  • Boarding (6 nights – plus grooming, minus one night free): $334
  • Dog sitting (8 hours): $30 with tip
  • Pet fees (1 night): $50

A baby gate

Finally, one of our newest dog-related expenses is a baby gate. Despite the name, make no mistake that this is indeed for the dog. When we moved to our home, we quickly found that we loved being able to run around and play with Rigby in our finished basement. Unfortunately, we also discovered that she had a predilection to mark on the carpet downstairs when we weren’t around to stop her.

The solution (for now) has been a gate that blocks her access to the bottom level of the house. This has worked perfectly so far as no incidents have occurred since we installed it. That said, if she really wanted to, she could totally jump the gate and get down there. But, here’s hoping that she doesn’t figure that out or at least doesn’t try it.

In any case, the gate plus the “wall nanny” accessory set us back $52.


All things considered, our ongoing expenses for Rigby pale in comparison to some of the initial costs. Of course, that’s partially because she’s managed to stay healthy and because our pet care needs are rare, seeing as we both work from home. Nevertheless, there are still necessary and, shall we say, less than necessary spending we do for our pup on a monthly or annual basis.

So is it worth it? Absolutely!

Author

Kyle Burbank

Founder ~ Moneyat30
Kyle is a freelance writer - including being the head writer for Fioney.com. He also serves as editorial director for the Disney fan site LaughingPlace.com and the founder of Money@30.com. In 2015, Kyle and his wife Bekah moved from Los Angeles to Springfield MO in pursuit of greater financial freedom. Together, the pair enjoy travel, coffee, and spending time with their dog Rigby. Additionally, as of 2023, they become first-time homeowners.

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