Personal Finance 

Four Dog Expenses to Consider Before Adopting Fido

Cute BeagleWhen my husband and I got married, the first big decision we made together was to adopt our first dog, Miss Doxie.  A few years later, we adopted another dog, Mr. Pug.  We knew these were big decisions because dogs, and pets in general, can be expensive.  They cost money from the day you get them to the day they go to doggy heaven.  I personally think that each dog I ever have in my life is more than worth it, but here are the costs to consider before getting a dog.

(Click to continue reading…)

 Frugal Living 

Pet Insurance Buys Peace of Mind

Tobey after Paw SurgeryI’ve always said that I view insurance as protection against the catastrophic, not against the routine. It’s why I don’t have collision and comprehensive insurance on my car. So how does this change with pet insurance? Why do we have pet insurance on the little guy instead of self-insuring his health?

I do this because I view Tobey as priceless. By priceless I don’t mean he’s worth a bazillion dollars, I mean I have no way to determine how much I’m willing to spend for his care. I recognize that it’s my responsibility to take care of him as long as he can live comfortably (otherwise we shouldn’t have adopted him), but without insurance I have to be the arbiter of his fate if he comes down with something. (it’s really my lovely wife and me deciding, but you get the idea) How much should I spend on his care? $500? $1,000? $5,000? $10,000?

I have no idea. In fact, I don’t even want to think about it.
(Click to continue reading…)


HAPPY Act: $3,500 Pet Care Expenses Deduction (Proposed)

Jim & TobeyWouldn’t you throw your support behind something called the HAPPY Act? I know I would, it sounds so… cheery!

It exists and it’s a bill that has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI). The Humanity and Pets Partnered Through the Years (HAPPY) Act, H.R. 3501, would offer a $3,500 tax deduction for qualified pet care expenses. A qualified pet is a “legally owned, domesticated, live animal” that isn’t used for research or business. Expenses cover pet products, service, veterinary visits, and basically anything that is related to the care of a pet.

It seems like a difficult time to be introducing this bill when we have so many other economic issues to deal with but it sure is sweet. 🙂

First reaction: Frivolous deficit spending? Or legitimate deduction we should entertain?

 Frugal Living 

Make Your Own Dog Food

Spilled Dog FoodSimplyForties made a comment in the forums about how she made her own dog food, an idea I had never considered. Naturally, I turned to the power of Google to help enlighten me how whether making our own dog food made sense. I know a lot of people that feed their dogs human food but we wanted to avoid that because it’s difficult to regulate nutrition through human food. With dog food, it’s a lot easier because you know almost exactly how much nutrition is in each serving.

Always consult your veterinarian before making your own dog food. You’ll want to be absolutely certain what you should and shouldn’t put into your food. Never put in onions, chocolate or grapes as each contain things that are dangerous for your dog. You might also want to talk to them to get a better sense of which supplements and vitamins you might want to include in your dog’s food.

(Click to continue reading…)

 Personal Finance 

Buying Frontline Online

Frontline Plus Blue for DogsA few days ago I wrote about how we got a new dog and all the new dog expenses. One of the more regular expenses will be Frontline and I couldn’t resist a little bit of rhyming. 🙂 Frontline is a product we’ll need to buy regularly for Toby and so the best option typically will be to buy it online.

(Click to continue reading…)

 Personal Finance 

Our New Dog Expenses

For the last few weeks, my wife and I have been visiting the local shelters and adoption shows to try to find a little guy to join our family. A few weeks ago, we met Tobey, a 7 year old Beagle who hasn’t had a “real” home in quite some time (I say real because he’s been a combination of fostered and kenneled, but treated very well throughout the whole process). This past weekend, we had a quick home inspection and we passed! We were a little surprised but they let us keep him that very day!

(Click to continue reading…)


Is Pet Insurance Necessary?

Cute PuppyI wrote about the total cost of owning a dog a few weeks ago and a couple of you chimed in about including pet health insurance. Even one of my friends, Nick, IM’d me to say that I should really consider getting pet insurance (he recently got a dog and had some medical issues to contend with) because it’s worth the peace of mind. I’ve never had a pet outside of some fish so I didn’t even think about getting insurance but it makes some sense.

For those, like me, who aren’t familiar with pet insurance, it’s just like your medical insurance. You pay monthly premiums and the pet insurance covers certain medical procedures and checkups. The more comprehensive the insurance, the more it covers and the more it costs. The big difference between the two is that with regular medical insurance today, the doctor usually interfaces directly with the insurance company. With pet insurance, you typically pay out of pocket and then request a reimbursement from the insurance company. I prefer the first way because then the doctor is often compelled to accept the price negotiated between the company and the doctor, which is often lower than the standard fee. By paying out of pocket first, you have to do the negotiating. (this may just have been the case with the insurance plans I saw)

Nick sent me a link to Veterinary Pet Insurance, the company he has his dog’s insurance with, and in reviewing the documents it seems pretty straightforward. VPI covers 90% of the scheduled allowance after a $50 per-incident deductible. If the procedure costs $1000, their benefit schedule covers $900 for that procedure, then they will pay out $765 ($900 – $50 x 90%) for the incident. Much like your standard medical insurance, they have a benefit schedule. Unlike your standard medical insurance, they don’t negotiate with the practitioner, you have to negotiate with them. I don’t know how flexible vets are about pricing but as I mentioned earlier, it’s easier if its the insurance company doing the negotiating (especially if you’re feeling the pressure because you know your pet needs the procedure!).

I entered in a quote for a two and a half year old Scottish Terrier and the comprehensive plan, with a $14k annual benefit allowance, cost $20.92 a month ($251/yr). The standard plan, with a $9k benefit allowance, was $11.33 a month ($136/yr). How does $251 a year stack up against the typical procedures a two and a half year old dog will face? I don’t know. I imagine though that, given it’s insurance, $251 is probably a bit above average (that’s how insurance companies work!).

Will we get pet insurance? Not sure yet, I think we will have to decide once we’ve adopted a dog and have a better idea of the types of medical expenses the breed will likely face in their lifetime. Another option would be to cover them when they are young and then once again when they are older. This opens up the potential for uncovered issues in the middle but depending on the price, it might be worth it. I don’t want to make an emotional decision but I also don’t want to be taken to the cleaners either way.

Anyone have experience with any other pet insurance companies or with pet insurance in general?

(Photo: cloneofsnake)


Total Cost of Owning A Dog

Cute PuppyMy wife and I had been tossing around the idea of getting a dog for the last few months and our recent trip to England, to visit good friends of ours, gave us a little reminder of how much we liked having a dog around. So, now that we’re back, we’re going to check out the local animal rescue and pounds to see if there are any little guys over there that we like and that also like us! As with any major decision (I consider getting a dog a major decision), you always have to consider the financials or you’ll probably find yourself in a rough spot someday.

Now, back to the matter at hand, we are looking to get a smaller type dog (around the size of a terrier rather than say a lab) so this brief total cost of ownership analysis will be focused on a small dog. We’ll also be going with a pound puppy rather than a bred dog because we feel that since it will be a pet, and not a working dog (my friend hunts, so for him a pure bred Labrador is a must-have), it’s better to go that route. We understand that there is always the potential for future health issues and unknowns about the puppy but that’s a risk we’re willing to accept.

Acquisition Costs

As mentioned earlier, we’ll be going with a pound puppy so we won’t be paying a breeder any fees and chances are all the initial veterinary and medical costs (for things like spaying and neutering) are mostly covered. However, let’s say that none of them are covered and let’s work from there and let’s call them acquisition costs. In reading various resources online, the estimated cost of the first year’s vet and medical costs can range anywhere from $100 to $700. So, if you know how much you can buy your dog for, add on around $500 (just to be safe) for medical costs and you have your acquisition cost.

Fixed Costs

Fixed costs refer to all the things you probably will buy once and then replace as needed. These are things like a water bowl, beds, toys, a crate, cleaning supplies, etc. This varies greatly but you’re talking a base of around $150-250 depending on where you live. Urban areas are obviously more expensive than suburban or rural areas and the best way to determine this is to just go to your local store and start adding things up.

Another fixed cost you may have is training. You can try to train a puppy yourself through the help of books or websites, which is very low, or you can go with a professional. The benefit of professionals is that they know what they’re doing, but they aren’t cheap. Training could cost you several hundred dollars, but training is essential for your mental health! 🙂

Variable Costs

Variable costs really are variable! They include the replacement of some of your fixed costs since they will be used and deteriorate. However, those will out be likely dwarfed by food. The best way to determine this is to ask the place you’re getting your dog from or looking up online. A quick search shows that dog food for a Westie is around $30 a month, or $360 a year. You may also have other variable costs like various medical items to keep your dog healthy, remember to include those as well.


If you estimate the average lifespan of a dog is around twelve years, the cost of the dog could reach into the tens of thousands of dollars. It’s important that you’re aware of this before you get a dog because you don’t want to one of the many owners who are forced to abandon their dog at the pound because you can’t afford them. It’s an unfortunate circumstance but it happens all the time.

One quick note about emergency funds and pets, we will be boosting our emergency fund whenever we get a pet (much like we would with kids) because pets can have accidents and problems just as people can. I’m not exactly sure how much we will adjust it upward but we definitely will.

Time to look for a puppy!

(Photo: cloneofsnake)

Advertising Disclosure: Bargaineering may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.
About | Contact Me | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use | Press
Copyright © 2016 by All rights reserved.