Dog TCO

With Nala's mast cell tumour and resultant vet bills, it got me thinking about the costs involved in pet ownership, something that most people usually don't think much about when they first get a pet. Most people tend not to think much past the initial cost of the dog, whether it's from a (hopefully reputable) breeder, rescue group or shelter.

Once the dog is home though, there's a whole list of recurring expenses: food, vet care, toys, supplies, training and kennel costs to name a few.

Since I use Quicken to track and categorize everything I spend, figuring out what the TCO to date for the dogs is relatively easy. From 01-Jan-05 through 15-Jul-08, this pie chart breaks down what I've spent on the dogs.

Pet Expenses Chart

Note how large the food and vet slabs of the pie are. Food is a large chunk because I feed the dogs a fairly high quality kibble (California Natural Lamb & Rice). No cheap grocery store crap for them. Medication includes any prescribed medications, along with heartworm preventative (Sentinel). Pet Supplies includes thinks like collars, leashes, crates (probably some toys) and flea/tick repellent (K-9 Advantix), supplements and anything else that I might consider a pet supply. The Other Pet category is kind of a catch-all category, but includes the cost of the dogs ($1700).

Boarding (Kennel) is a fairly significant cost for me as well. Have to put the dogs somewhere when I go away on conferences or vacations that I can't take the dogs along on.

Fortunately Labs are wash and wear type dogs, so I don't spend much on grooming.

Here's how the expenses break down monthly.
Monthly Pet Expenses Chart

Monthly expenses average about $390/month but can frequently exceed that.

The total over the past 3.5 years is just under $16.4k or about $4600/year. This is for two well bred Labs without very many health issues. For dogs with health problems, this can be much, much higher. Your own analysis may yield different numbers, but I suspect the overall distribution of expenses will probably be fairly similar.

But you know what, I wouldn't have it any other way. I consider it all money very well spent. My Labs are my kids.