For two years now, I have tracked our pet expenditures at The House of Two Bows in order to get a concrete sense of what it costs to keep two 20 ~ 30 pound adult dogs at my personal standards in one of the most expensive regions of the country. I had a lot more to say last year when I broke down and analyzed my expense categories in detail. I’m paring it down to just two charts this year.
- Food: $806
- Treats: $175
- Grooming: $56
- Accessories and miscellany: $215
- Vet & medical expenses: $648
- ANNUAL TOTAL: $1900
The numbers, put side by side (2011 / 2012):
- Food: $84 / 67
- Treats: $26 / 15
- Accessories & miscellaneous: $15 / 18
- Grooming: N/A / $5
- Vet and medical expenses: $122 / 53
- Average per month: $247 / 158
Food and treats:
The Bows are typically fed a high quality, grain-free, fish-based kibble in the morning, and then either dehydrated raw, fresh or thawed raw meats, bones, and organs, or a home-cooked meal in the evening. They get various supplements with their meals, including fish oil, vitamin E, PlaqueOff, liquid glucosamine, and other seasonal bits.
Overall, we spent more wisely on edibles this year, and the payoff is evident in the numbers. My strategies:
- Limited purchases of pre-made frozen commercial raw food, one of the most expensive types of food I purchased last year. Instead, I put more effort into putting together our own home-prepared raw recipes.
- Limited purchases of edible dental chews (e.g. Terrabones, Zuke’s Z-Bones). Instead, we fed more raw bones and skin chews, which are more economical and hold a superior claim on being “natural.”
- Took advantage of grocery store bargains, stalking the 50% off sell-by-today corner. I still can’t buy much in bulk without a separate freezer though.
- Waited for sales, coupons and rebates, then milked them for all they were worth. We got several free bags of high quality kibble, Groupons and vouchers to online pet supply retailers, and alerts to significant sales on some of our favorite brands by subscribing to mailing lists.
RJ also became more proactive about dehydrating homemade treats towards the end of the year, a practice which I expect will carry into the next.
Finally, I have to give credit to Chewy.com, Patrick at Salmon Ears, Pawalla, Pets Love Toys, and The Honest Kitchen for knocking about $150 ~ $200 from this year’s food and treat expenses. I neither expected nor desired to make any revenue when I started this blog, so occasional freebies are nice. We don’t plug products for the sake of money, though these opportunities help us save some!
Grooming, accessories, and miscellaneous:
I love that I don’t have to spend much on grooming for either a Basenji or a Shiba Inu. I purposely stay away from primp-necessary breeds; it’s enough to contend with the constant shedding at home from Bowdu. So our “grooming” category overlaps with basic hygiene, and consisted of a Dremel purchased at the beginning of the year (and used with much success!), baby wipes for allergy season, and dental supplies.
Not much to add about the other accessories that I haven’t already discussed in previous monthly roundups. Unlike last year, I didn’t bother counting a cent towards gas or tolls. The enjoyment derived from traveling together really is shared; it’s not that I’m taking them places, it’s that they’re taking me places I’d otherwise not make the effort to explore.
Veterinary and medical expenses:
Regular meds include heartworm (Interceptor), flea medication (Comfortis), and thyroid medication (Soloxine).
So this is the biggest discrepancy between the past two years because we didn’t have to do a full dental, and we got through the year without unexpected medical emergencies! Well, Bowpi had a minor incident at the dog park that was fully paid by the other party. Though I’ve only been keeping track of our budget for two years, I’ll consider this an atypical year for veterinary expenses. I’d love to keep it this low every year, but realistically, I realize it only takes one nasty spell to knock those figures skyward.
Meanwhile, Bowpi’s dental health continues to aggravate me. I’d much rather spend an extra $5 a month maintaining her teeth than spending $500 all at once every other year on a full dental. Pet health is more than just a commitment of finances, but also time. Heading into 2013, the condition of Bowpi’s teeth and Bowdu’s chronic issues will continue to be major concerns. I just hope we can keep it all under control, even as we anticipate changes on the horizon at the House of Two Bows.