4 Pet Expenses That Aren't Worth It

By Amanda Meadows on 22 December 2014 7 comments

Pets give us so much: fun, cuddles, love. But they are also very expensive. There are lots of ways to curb your pet expenses, but here are the four pet expenses that are really just not worth it.

Pet Insurance

A health insurance plan for your dog, cat, bird, snake, or any other pet, might sound like a good idea, especially if you have a purebred animal prone to health issues late in life. However, the insurance deal for pets is not exactly as great as the kind we humans get.

First, the premiums are high considering how few issues will likely arise. The basic plans are around $11 per month, and comprehensive care is up to $40 per month. Over the course of a pets life, let's say 10 years, you will have spent up to $4800. That's the cost of a resort vacation or a used car!

Second, problems requiring a specialist will still cost you an arm and leg. If you have a big issue, like a dog enduring heart failure, one can find that with each visit, the reimbursements get smaller and smaller. Considering the vet costs and the type of pet, you might be better off paying for expenses as they arise.

Obedience Classes

Even post-Cesar Milan, we are still in a dog training craze. Many folks adopting rescue pets might believe they need to buy discipline courses or "boot camps." But these classes are a high risk for an uncertain reward: Group classes cost up to $125 on average, private classes cost up to $500 on average, and boarding school training can cost $1800 on average; and there's little guarantee the results will last.

So how can you train a pet without classes? It's simple: As the owner of a pet (specifically dogs), you are the alpha. That means the obedience training should come from you. There are lots of resources on how to spend time and training pets yourself. Home training not only ensures that you spend quality time with your pet and that the results are working, but you'll save tons of money.

Too Many Toys

Toys are such an easy way to entertain (or appease) our animal friends. Pet stores will successfully sell us on wacky and cute toys for almost every kind of pet — because who doesn't want to see their pet play and have fun?

Pet toys are pricey, though. They also have high turnover. A toy lasts for a few months until it's completely torn apart, and then you need to replace it. Try saving money by making your own toys or recycling toys. If you have a cat? A coat hanger with a string on it, or a little piece of trash on the floor will always suffice.

Fresh Prepared Pet Food

Dog and cat bakeries, artisanal fresh foods delivered to you, farmer's market carts just for pets, there are so many ways to waste money on your pet with indulgent treats. A lot of these food options are positioned as the only "healthy" choice for your pet's health.

How many times have we gone to Whole Foods for kale, but left with salted caramel ice cream? It's the same with these specialty dog food brands. Dogs do not need popsicles, nor we should never entertain the idea. The 10 bucks here, 20 bucks there add up to an insane meals and entertainment budget for your pet. Want to try fresh, raw pet food? Try making it yourself without the markup.

What pet expenses do you consider a waste? Please share in comments!

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Guest's picture
Caleb

Too many toys is a big one. My wife always things we have to get our dog a toy when we go shopping. She would be just as happy playing with a plastic bowl.

Guest's picture
Guest

Maybe you shouldn't give out dog training advice if you are using terms like Alpha. Pack and dominance theory has been scientifically disproved for several years now. Telling people they need to be the alpha is useless and dangerous. Our dogs are not trying to dominate you or the world, science based positive reinforcement techniques are safer and yield better results.

Guest's picture
Guest

Yes. Thank you! This comment says it all! When I read this article all I could do was roll my eyes. Please do some actual research before stating false information as fact.

Guest's picture
Guest

Weak article, no insurance?? I have had health insurance for two dogs for over 7 years, and it is probably the best decision I have made.... Just to give people an idea, my male dog had surgery a month ago an after paying $1200 we received back from the insurance $1010.

Guest's picture
Guest

Not having pet insurance is definitely not sound advice. I have had pet insurance for our dog since we adopted her five years ago. Since that time we have paid $30 a month for our premium but with health issues that have arisen during our pets life, we have been reimbursed over $3,000. While not every animal is going to have issues in their lives, issues do arise. Vet bills can be very expensive, it helps to have insurance.

Guest's picture
Monica

I agree with everything but the training! I was not one that could do training myself and we paid $650 for training and an e-collar and I still think it was the best money we spent. We don't have to replace anything she has chewed since the training and that was our biggest expense with our dog. She chewed my brand new smart phone, our baseboards and every kid toy we left out until her training. Not having to replace chewed things and having a good dog was worth the expense! I would have to say after doing the training with her I know alot more and would be able to self-train our next puppy alot easier.

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree about not paying for pet insurance. We had it for about a year and a half about eight years ago for our first dog. The premium went up twice during that time. We found out (probably we should have read the fine print on the policy first) that regular annual visits and shots weren't covered and medications like ear drops weren't either. Also, there were a lot of exclusions. They seemed to know what certain breeds of dogs were prone to (like knee problems) and they were excluded depending upon your dog breed.

In hindsight I can now say that it definitely wouldn't have been worth it for us and the $33 monthly premium would have added up to almost $3500 by now. With our healthy, well cared for dogs, we haven't spent anywhere near that and we now have two of the same breed. (Boston Terriers)