How Much Will That New Pet Cost You?

Welcome back to Tales & Tails with Andrea Ferrell, DVM. Here at Perimeter we recently had a difficult situation with a new puppy. A family had adopted a young Boston Terrier puppy and unfortunately, an accident led to a broken leg. Due to the location of the break, surgery by a specialist was needed. The surgery would cost them almost $2000, an amount they were completely unprepared for, as most of us would be only a few weeks into puppy parenthood. The family was thankfully able to get the needed treatment and the little guy is doing great, but the incident prompted me to reprint this blog from last year.

Reprint from February 2014:
Last week Perimeter Veterinary Center took in a cat in desperate need of help. We had never met him before but he presented to us for euthanasia. He hadn’t been feeling very well recently and the owner couldn’t afford to pursue any treatment for him. Upon examination, I discovered a happy, sweet, affectionate cat with a couple of completely treatable conditions. He had severe dental disease (bad enough that he could no longer eat) and he had a urinary condition. He needed lab work to more specifically diagnose the urinary problem and he desperately needed a dental cleaning and many extractions. The blood work and urinalysis we needed to do would cost $120. With the exam fee, the appointment total was going to be $172. That didn’t include the dental cleaning or any other treatments he may need. The owner could not afford to move forward with diagnostics or treatment.
We adopted him with the intention of getting him healthy and finding him a new home. We performed his tests, are treating his conditions, performed a dental cleaning and extractions and he’s a brand new cat! He’s eating enthusiastically and super active. We call him Bobby. He roams the clinic looking for anyone who has a minute to hug and cuddle him. We’re so glad we never even considered euthanizing him. But it’s heartbreaking that sometimes these decisions have to come down to how much an owner can afford.

When you’re considering adding a new pet to your family, it’s absolutely imperative that you consider the costs. It’s really easy to get sucked in by those big brown puppy eyes, soft kitten kisses, and the sweet faces and wagging tails of dogs and cats needing homes. But our pets are big responsibilities and in general, shouldn’t be considered returnable. When you give a pet a new home, you should be prepared and committed to caring for them for the duration of their lives. So let’s give you an idea of what you’re getting into financially.

Puppies need four rounds of vaccinations to establish good immunity to disease. They also need multiple dewormings, fecal examinations, heartworm disease prevention, flea and tick preventatives, and examinations to ensure they’re developing in a healthy manner. Kittens need three rounds of initial vaccinations along with the other services. In a high quality, thorough clinic, your first puppy/kitten appointment may cost anywhere between $150 and $200 depending on their lifestyle and what preventatives and vaccinations they need. Follow up puppy/kitten appointments may cost $85 – $120 depending on their needs. So just getting your new pet started could potentially cost you $405 – 560! And that doesn’t include bedding, toys, food, training, leashes, collars, and on and on. And remember this is just the first four months of your new pet’s life!

Every pet should be spayed or neutered! And at Perimeter Veterinary Center we believe every surgery should be treated as though it’s the most important procedure we’re performing. Each pet has an IV catheter placed, receives IV fluids and has every vital parameter monitored throughout their procedure. Spaying your puppy, including appropriate pre-anesthesia lab work, will run between $300 and $450 depending on her size. A puppy neuter runs between $300 and $400 depending on size. A kitten spay may be around $350 and a kitten neuter may be around $200, again with all the same high quality performance listed above. So, your pet is now six months old and you’ve already spent several hundred dollars.

Adult pets need regular exams, vaccinations that fit their lifestyle, regular blood work and heartworm/tick disease testing (dogs), heartworm and flea/tick prevention, and fecal examinations. If you keep up with all of the above recommendations, your adult dog’s wellness visit may cost upwards of $200-300 every six months – and that doesn’t include the preventions mentioned above, just the veterinary services. If your pet lives to be 10 years old, you will have spent $6000 just on preventative and wellness care!
Keep in mind none of this even begins to address the cost of care for pets that aren’t perfectly healthy their entire lives. Take Bobby for example. Turns out he’s diabetic. He’s responding beautifully to treatment, but his first bottle of insulin, which will last a few months, cost $208. He needs to be on a prescription diet which will run around $20 per month. He’ll also need regular rechecks of his glucose levels to ensure treatment is remaining effective. Bobby’s dental cost about $800 because of all the surgical extractions and special care he needed. But even a dental cleaning for an otherwise healthy animal may be $300 or more. With his insulin, exam and blood work rechecks, and his prescription diet, Bobby’s ongoing care may add up to $1400 per year, not including the regular vaccines and preventatives he’ll receive.

Consider another case we had recently. One of our favorite patients, Marvin, recently tore a ligament in his knee. There was no way to foresee or prevent this injury and unfortunately, the only appropriate treatment is a $2500-3500 surgery. Marvin is lucky enough to have a loving family that could manage the surgical costs, but do you have $3ooo laying around to treat a pet’s injury or illness? Because if you own pets, you may need it someday. You have to think about the problems you can’t anticipate in addition to your pet’s wellness care. You may even want to consider pet insurance. I also have several clients that maintain a small savings account specifically for their pets’ unexpected needs.

We absolutely never want to discourage people from adopting pets! We wouldn’t know what we would do without ours. But it’s important to remember they aren’t toys – they’re big responsibilities and we have to be prepared for the financial implications when we add a fuzzy four-legged member to our families. If you’re considering adding a new pet to your home, give us a call and depending on the type and breed of pet, we can give you some specific ideas of costs to expect. We never want you to be stuck making life and death decisions, or even regular health care decisions, based on money instead of what you really want for your pet.
Serving the areas of Shawnee, Lenexa, De Soto, Bonner Springs, Olathe, Overland Park, KS.
Copyright 2012 Perimeter Veterinary Center. (913) 742-8387, Shawnee, KS. All rights reserved


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