Ask the Readers: Is Having Pets Worth the Cost?

By Ashley Jacobs on 28 February 2012 (Updated 6 March 2012) 171 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Patrick, tofucute, and ktkelly for winning this week's contest!

Many people have at least one pet in their home. Whether they are a dog or a cat lover, most people like having a furry companion around. Some people swear that the expenses associated with having a pet are worth it. However, the cost of having pets can sometimes be high enough to deter people from adding an animal to their family.

Is having pets worth the cost? Why or why not? If you have pets, how do you cut back on the expenses associated with them.

Tell us if you think having pets is worth the cost and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

Win 1 of 3 $20 Amazon Gift Cards

We're doing three giveaways — one for random comments, one for random Facebook "Likes", and another one for random tweets.

Mandatory Entry: 

  • Post your answer in the comments below 

For extra entries (1 per action):

  • Go to our Facebook page, "Like" us, and leave a comment on this article telling us you did, or
  • Tweet your answer. You have to be a follower of our @wisebread account. Include both "@wisebread" and "#WBAsk" in your tweet so we'll see it and count it. Leave a link to your tweet (click the timestamp for the individual URL) in a separate comment.

If you're inspired to write a whole blog post OR you have a photo on flickr to share, please link to it in the comments or tweet it.

Giveaway Rules:

  • Contest ends Monday, March 5th at 11:59 pm Pacific. Winners will be announced after March 5th on the original post. Winners will also be contacted via email.
  • You can enter all three drawings — once by leaving a comment, once by liking our Facebook update, and once by tweeting.
  • This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered, or associated with Facebook.
  • You must be 18 and US resident to enter. Void where prohibited.

Good Luck!

0
No votes yet
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

171 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Guest's picture
Guest

My middle child, age 5, had me bring our french angora rabbit to her class today. I hadn't really thought much about the significance of pets in the lives and experiences of children. After today I am really glad that we have the pets that we do. We have a dog that I put off getting from the humane society until our family was ready for child 2. I always told our oldest before that point that we did not have a "dog lifestyle" before my husband and I decided to have more children. When our oldest was twelve and we were going to have more children we decided that it would be a good source of responsibility and companionship for the oldest child to have a dog as we would have a new baby to attend to ourselves. So, in the class each child had an opportunity to come up and pet the rabbit. I bought it cheap, for $10 from a breeder with extra males with a $10 cage that I found on craigslist and have already harvested two batches of wool for spinning and crochet. I asked the children who had pets and only three did not raise their hands. Ironically one of two identical twin boys did not, while his brother did. Not sure how that works. Interestingly, the only children that expressed fear in petting the docile, fluffy, bunny were those without pets. We use our recycled newspapers to line the cage and used grocery bags to dispose of the waste. Between food, salt licks, and timothy hay we spend about $10 a month. I use the wool produced, and the children have an invaluable learning experience. I would definitely say that our rabbit is worth the investment. Our dog that just ate half of my house plants, on the other hand, I would have to calculate a lot more closely. He does make a good security system, but I'm not sure how to evaluate that on a cost basis. He also cleans up more in the kitchen than any other family member. Okay, the dog is weighing in on the positive side too in my vague calculations. I would have to say that pets are worth the money...if you want them.

Guest's picture
Diana Leland

As a dog lover, I'm kind of aghast at the title, and I think all of my pet-lover friends would be too... of COURSE they're worth the expense! They're our kids (my son would agree) and we love them and nurture them and spend money on them as if they were human. Do I try to find good deals on biodegradable poopie bags? yes... Do I look for sales on pet supplies? yes... But I also don't hesitate spending more on good dog food, or vitamins, or joint care, which all increase their health and joy of living. Is my new rescue dog costing more than my previous purebred dog? yes... Do I mind all the vet bills getting him healthy? Of course not! The waggy tail and happy face are SO worth it!

Guest's picture
Monica S

My pups are worth every penny. What I've given them pales to the happiness and companionship they have given me. Not to mention how much I have grown and learned about me by teaching them.

Guest's picture
Monica S

I like on FB

Guest's picture

I think pets are definitely worth it. They are relaxing and soothing to people and can calm anyone down. Pets teach kids responsibility and empathy.

We save money on pets by watching for sales and coupons on the food we use and stocking up then. We don't buy a lot of treats or toys. We use old blankets for dog bedding that I buy at garage sales for very cheap. We use a high quality litter for our rabbit so that we don't have to use as much. Then we buy a larger bag of it that is less per lb than a smaller bag.

Guest's picture
Guest

As with anything it's more opportunity cost. I love my pet! She's a member of the family. And I can afford to feed her, pay her doctor bills and make sure she's safe when we're away.
If it were a matter of giving up the same things for my kids, well, we wouldn't have a dog.

But she's certainly more fun than a dinner out or the occassional weekend away. Pets are an AMAZING value for quality of life compared to what they cost - if you can possibly afford it - get one!

Guest's picture
Melissa W

Are they worth the money? Are children worth the money? Pets are a financial drain, but at this point so is my upside down house. I woudn't dream of getting rid of either. My dogs keep me from going out too often. I guess that saves money. I can't really talk too much about cost savings as the no grain and low grain food they are on costs $80 a month between all 3. Ulltimately, I would say that pets are worth it. If someone is on a tight budget or is not willing to spend the money to take care of an animal properly I would recommend against ownership. I know too many people who can't take care of themselves with animals they are also incapable of caring for.

Guest's picture
dm

As a new dog owner, I'd have to yes. I adopted a 1 year old catahoula from a shelter and she's been a joy (and a pain in the ass.) Totally costs so far are around $500 but many of these are "start-up" costs if you will. I can't argue that the money will equal out but for me it comes close.

I got a dog primarily to help ward off the depression that I was taking SSRIs for. I've since gone off them and, while it's not always sunshine, it is significantly better than the other times I've tried getting by without drugs. That in itself is reason enought for me but if you take into account the costs of prescriptions and doctor visits saved over the long haul it might make a dent in the costs of having a pet.

In the same realm, I'm staying in more than I was. I'm single and tend spend a nice chunk of change out at bars and music venues. Having a dog makes me want to stay in more saving me money (and hangovers!)

Also, exercise! (which equals less doctors!)

Guest's picture
James

Kelly nailed it. Like kids, it's not about the costs. It's about what's added to your life.

Guest's picture
Gayle

What is the value of a child's mental and physical health? Yep, you guessed it, Priceless. We didn't give our first kitten that name, but we should have. Retrieved from our garage, from the litter of a feral mother, she was the magic that won back my daughter's smile. Lacking experience and creativity we named her Kitty. We were also gobsmacked from caring for our 16 year old daughter, who'd had four knee surgeries in 18 months. Talk about depressing and depressed. I was not thrilled about the kitten but our sad, beat-down, now handicapped daughter was. I'm sure there are those who can resist the antics of a kitten but Katie could not. I had never owned a cat but they rule at our house now because Kitty was just what Katie needed to bring her back from sickness to health. We could have spent a fortune but for the price of a neutering, some immunizations, and a two handfuls of kibble each day what we got was beyond measure.

Guest's picture
Selene M.

In our current retired lifestyle of active RVing, the answer is no. We want the freedom of doing what we want, when and how, without being concerned about taking or leaving pets. The expense of properly keeping a pet is also not in our budget for now.

Guest's picture
Selene M.

I Like you on Facebook as Selene Montgomery

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

Pets are definitely worth it - they add so many more rich layers to the tapestry of family. They give so much, and don't ask for much. I have 6 dogs - (of course, we live on 18 acres!). My daughter adopted the newest, and out of the other 5, only one we adopted as a puppy. The other 5 were all "dump-offs/cast-offs", whatever you want to call them. They are the sweetest dogs, and love us so much. I can't imagine not having a dog. Yes, it's not cheap, but it's worth it!

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

Been following you on FB for a while!

Guest's picture
PItty

For me dog is a nighthmare in a flat. When you have big house, that's great, dog have space to live, and you have some too. But in small apartments it's not worth a cost.

Guest's picture
Nancy B from Many LA

Tweeted!
https://twitter.com/#!/goonyburd/status/174893938174468097

Guest's picture
brian

def not worth the cost. thousands of dollars for what?

Guest's picture
Eileen

Definitely, yes! If you have some spare money in your budget. If I was living paycheck to paycheck, I might not feel that having a pet was a necessity worth paying for, but as an extra expense that provides enjoyment to my life, I love having a pet. Also, taking your pooch for a walk provides an excuse for some free exercise time!

Guest's picture
Tricia

My sweet German Shepherd literally ate the neighbors chicken when she was a puppy and continued to eat me out of house and home. She was worth every penny because
she helped me recover from anxiety disorder. I got out of the house everyday and met neighbors I would have never known otherwise. I lived in a foreign country and she helped me make friends, she greeted me anxiously and I never felt alone with her around. Her name was Suzy and I miss her so much.

Guest's picture

I have had many pets over the years and as many as 5 rescues at once. They all have different personalities, but at the same time have shown me how to live in the moment. They also are wonderful at seeing the good in us which is one of their precious gifts because our world can't seem to get over its negativity. I love it that pets simply don't buy it and in doing so encourage the same in us.

Guest's picture
Kristina

Yes, definitely. They provide much joy and companionship.

Guest's picture
eliko

Yep - definitely worth the money. BUT people should not have pets (dogs/cats - especially dogs) if they have no time for them. Pets are people too - er, I mean they NEED people time! :)

Guest's picture
Patrick

It's hard to justify as my dog gets older and more expensive (more check ups and medication), but she's still worth it. I remember all of the good times we've had over the years and it's all worth it.

Guest's picture
OhioWldFlr

For people like my hubby and I (with no kids & in our 40s) our dog is our furkid. Expensive?...yes, at times but he will never ask us to buy him a car or go to college. And he gets me off the sofa to go outside and walk every day. And he is a big, 100lb+ intimidating-looking dog (but really a big baby) so no burglar in his right mind would think of climbing the fence into our yard!

Guest's picture
Muffinand jezebel

If you have to ask the question, then you probably don't need to invest the time and money in a pet. I am the proud owner of three geriatric rotties (shelter dogs) that have have $5,000 in orthopedic surgery and take 125.00 meds each month. I lost my 20 year old cat last year. Do I think it's worth it? Absolutely, without doubt, best investments I ever made. Love has no price tag. Even furry love.

Guest's picture
JG

One has to consider the financial impact of owning a pet prior to making the commitment. It is a big responsibility. Yes, our dogs are worth it!

Guest's picture
Ariana Morris

Nothing's quite so rewarding as providing a home for an animal who needs one. They help give your life meaning-- and how much is loving someone, and receiving love, worth? Priceless I think.

Guest's picture
Erin

Having pets is absolutely worth the cost!! I wrote my entire doctoral dissertation in clinical psychology on the benefits of pet ownership and exposure to animals for reducing anxiety and depression in women with physical disabilities. As a women born with cerebral palsy, and an animal lover, the love and companionship my dog brings me is priceless!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have three dogs and a cat. They cost way too much. I have to work for them. I bath them, let them in let them out. Shop for them. Buy clothes for the little one. I have to yell at them when they fight. I have to keep track of their medical appts. They walk all over me. I get no respect. You know where this is going right? Once in a while when I really need love or when I least expect it, one of them will rest their head on my leg. Or the cat will come up and nuzzle my neck, or I will see my son playing with the newest one we got after his father passed way. Are they worth it? Yeah they are worth it but don't tell them I said that.

Guest's picture
Rebecca B. A. R.

Pets are totally worth the money they cost. They offer companionship, entertainment, and love. They help you live longer by encouraging you to exercise them (thereby exercising yourself), by requiring you to take care of them, therefore, you are "needed" by someone else who depends on you, and they calm you by you calming (petting) them. Support your local animal shelters. Adopt a homeless animal. Spay and neuter your animals. I have one dog (when my husband gets a decent paying job again, I want to get another one) and 10 cats. They are all worth the money. I also volunteer regularly at our local no-kill animal shelter, too. I save money by feeding them high quality food and regularly taking them to the vet for their health (plus they are all fixed!).

Guest's picture
Bryan

I don't know about all pets, but our dog is definitely worth the expense. He drives us crazy sometimes (he's a needy little bugger), but my wife and I would be much less happy without him.

Guest's picture
Liz

Absolutely worth every penny. My husband works crazy hours and my cat is my only companion most evenings. She makes me laugh on bad days. And, she loves catching bugs - a definite plus - and actually alerted us to an infestation on our windowsill last summer!

Guest's picture
Stacie

I absolutely love my pets, and I really don't try to cut corners on their costs. I mean, I try to keep an eye out for coupons or buy in bulk, and I sometimes make their treats to save on costs and improve their health. But I don't skip vaccinations or scrimp on dog food or anything. The benefit of my pets is that they rely on me for everything, and love me unconditionally. It gives me purpose and love and companionship and contentment, and that's worth quite a bit to me. Plus, it saves on the therapy I'd likely be paying for if they weren't around!

Guest's picture
Ceara

Absolutely worth the cost. A pet's love, to give and receive, is priceless.

Guest's picture
Aaron L

Only if you can afford having another kid in the house.. A pet is a lot of responsibility. I like June the Homemaker's idea of pet sitting though! I did that once and thought it was great.

Guest's picture

Because we rent, we're not allowed to have pets. We loved our hamster, and the emotional cost was great when we were told to get red of him. Our fish, however, is fairly low-maintennace, and my son loves to watch him swim around. Definitely worth it. :)

Guest's picture

Definitely! No matter the cost, I love all 4 of my cats. :)

Guest's picture
Guest

I have three dogs and they are well worth the joy they bring to our family. We keep costs down by feeding them properly, exercising them a lot, and taking care of any medical or health problems before they get out of control. Having any pet is a big responsibility in terms of how much time and effort you should devote to them. Dogs add immeasurably to the quality of our lives.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Like you on FB.

Guest's picture
KelR1

Yes. My dog is my baby and my best friend. He's loyal, loving, and accompanies me on many adventures. He's also a great listener.

Guest's picture
Douglas

As a recent single person, pets are definitely worth the effort and time. Granted, like children they are cost involved, but the companionship and love they provide is priceless.

Guest's picture
Diane

I like WiseBread on fb!

Guest's picture
Diane

If you have to ask this question, you probably don't have a pet~ and I probably can't even begin to explain the value to you!! Our dog & cat are definitely worth the cost to me~ (only the dog is worth it to my boyfriend! LOL!). Their companionship is worth a lot. Our dog is a great walking partner and gives us a reason to get up and go when we don't really feel like exercising! Over the years our pets have been wonderful companions to my sons as well, teaching them nurturing skills that will stay with them for life. Their antics provide endless amusement throughout the day!

I understand that some people can't afford pets, but there are many things I'd give up before I give up my animals!

Ashley Jacobs's picture

I totally get what you mean! There are so many things I'd give up before giving up my dog. :)

Guest's picture
BRB

I think my cats are worth it, they are my babies!

Guest's picture
Kes

Absolutely worth it!

First, the week after my cat moved in, a significant decrease in the rodent population of the house began. Sure, I had to dispose of the carcasses, but one month and five mice later, I'm confident the cat earned her keep for a while. Not to mention the added bonus of her hilarious distress when the awesome moving mouse toy stopped moving, and she would look up at me and wail "fix it!"

Second, my particular cat is an awesome social ice-breaker. She has been called "a dog in a cat's body": she is never shy, never bite-y, very chatty and always makes up to new people. She loves to be petted and snuggle with people. When I moved out of my shared house, my old roomies got a new cat immediately, but continue to lament that she's just not as good as mine.

Third, she's a rescue cat, so I get the smug satisfaction of being a do-gooder AND have insulated my conscious from those Sarah MacLachlan "Save These Animals, You Heartless Bastard!" commercials.

Fourth, anything that goes wrong: blame the cat! Someone farted? It was the cat! Someone drank all the milk? Clearly, it is the cat's fault. Getting behind on the bills? Berate the cat to "get a damn job, you lazy feline!" Satisfying, victimless, and way less stressful than arguing with the boyfriend.

In conclusion: I friggin' love my cat, and having her in my life is truly priceless.

Guest's picture
Carson M.

I didn't like the idea of having a pet until a couple years ago when my girlfriend and I adopted a cat. I was worried about the added cost being a burden on my finances and lifestyle. Now, two years into it, I regret even thinking that it would be a burden at all. The cat is extremely independent and not very needy or clingy, which doesn't affect my lifestyle at all. We are required, however, to pay a teeny tiny bit more per month for our rent, but nothing outrageous. His food and toys aren't very costly either, especially since he goes nuts over just about anything we give him to eat or play with. The added cost and the time spent were definitely worth it in my book.

Guest's picture
elloo

Of course pets are worth the cost! My dog is part of my soul. You can't measure that in money. But being practical, one way I save money is by doing preventative stuff like brushing her teeth regularly. That saves my wallet from shelling out lots of money for expensive dental cleaning and teeth extractions done by a vet. And it saves her from painful procedures.

Guest's picture
Laura

Of course! It's not even a question. Pets bring us so much happiness and they become your family. There are so many animals that get put down because they can't find good homes, so how about we learn to budget so that we can add them to our lives!

Guest's picture

I honestly don't think they're worth the cost if you're in debt like me. I can't even take care of myself, let alone a pet!

Guest's picture

Liked you on FB!

Guest's picture

https://twitter.com/#!/missluckybreaks/status/175986697560010752

Donna Freedman's picture

I like Wise Bread on Facebook.

Donna Freedman's picture

When my daughter was unable to work and waiting for a disability hearing, she adopted a cat from a rescue group. The companionship was vital, since she spent most of her days in an apartment, unable to do very much.
The cat was (and still is) very loving, so my daughter always had this funny little creature nearby. And when the cat still acted kittenish, it provided much-needed laughter.
I was helping her financially at the time and never begrudged the addition of a small pet to her budget.

Guest's picture
Caitlin

We're enrolled in savings programs with PetSmart and PetCo to get points toward discounts, but refuse to buy cheap food for the dog since she has a sensitive stomach. But to be honest, the benefits way outweigh the costs, which are pretty minimal - about $50 a month.

Guest's picture
Patrick C.

Yes! Some things the amount of money you pay has no correlation with the joy it can bring you. Granted, they can be too expensive, and one needs to watch that things don't get out of control. But if it is a good pet, that bring you and your family happiness. Then it is well worth the cost.

Guest's picture
Carmen

Totally worth the cost. They offer us companionship, lower our blood pressure when we're petting them, teach children responsibility, etc.

Guest's picture
Carmen

I liked your Facebook page

Guest's picture
Furkids mom

Are furkids worth the cost? Of course they are! I currently have 4 cats that share their home with me. If you are a true "animal person" you understand and nothing could replace the love and acceptance you get from them. They only ask for love, food, shelter, care and compassion. For everyone that complains about the fur, poop, messes, etc. I can only say don't get married or think of having a family - talk about expenses and demands of you and your time. My furkids don't mind if I sleep in on the weekends, in fact they prefer if I do. I have had many years of pet companionship, they everyday joys and sadness of loss are all part of the package. What they give me in return for providing for them is priceless!

Guest's picture
Guest

For me it's like asking a parent if having a child is worth the cost - OF COURSE! You decide to adopt a pet because you have love you want to share, and just drinking a beer with friends or training for a half-marathon isn't completing you anymore. It's healthy to understand that your pet is...still an animal, a pet, and after that, he or she can be your best pal for hikes, snuggles and even roadtrips with the proper seatbelt harness ;)

Guest's picture
Hofken

Pets are definitely worth the cost. They're family! We feed our two a good dry food and keep their weight healthy. We keep them safe in a our 1/2-acre fenced back yard. They are 11-1/2 years old now, so we are anticipating having to make decisions if illnesses occur.

Guest's picture
Hofken

I Like you on Facebook - Cynthia M Richardson

Guest's picture
cwaltz

Our pets are like family so we definitely consider them worth the costs. I have found the best way to save money is through our local vet. He often has access to coupons or deals for items like flea treatments or even food.

Chris

Guest's picture

YES EXTRA SOULS in the form of pets are worth the Diva expense! They provide more comfort, unconditional love, and actually heal the heart with their ability, allowing us to open our hearts whole-heartedly without being judged. If they are, they can't let us know they are judging us with their precious sweet eyes looking back at us! I am happy to say I've been blessed and not stressed to have had the pleasure of 4 dogs in my life. Each one has showed me their true unforgettable nature. Each has given me another lesson in life. #1 Spotty, he showed me I could trust a stranger. I woke up to find him (at 5 years old) curled up next to me, watching over me the day after we picked him out of his litter. #2 Lee, I learned that we all just want to be loved regardless of our color. She was black. She was a dog my father saw following her previous owner at a wholesale market in Chinatown, Chicago. My dad borrowed her for 2 weeks to play with our male dog "Spotty" when it was time to return her, the wife of the previous owner said "you can have her, I wanted a white dog anyway" I realized this was a blessing because I wanted to keep Lee regardless of her color. She was the most adorable. Even when her black hair turned grey then white through the years as she aged gracefully. #3 Pebbles who is still with us now even after a pancreatitis scare after I foolishly split a Macadamia nut in half so she could share it with or 4th dog. She is truly a human in her greediness to try human food. If you don't give her some food, she will sit up like a meerkat and pull on your arm and just stare incessantly. She makes me realize that Karma exists and she must have done something really bad to have been born a dog. She is guy crazy, hence she had to be born a dog or else she would be the talk of the town. She is so strategic in every since of the word with her human characteristics which are too clever for any dog to have. #4 Buddy, he was originally named Tramp because he ironically looked like the "female" dog in Lady and the Tramp. I had to change that name with a quickness. He has his southern polite charms and is from Oklahoma, rescued by an awesome lady who brings about 30-40 dogs a month to the Human Society, T.A.I.L.S. in DeKalb, IL. He is truly a blessing as he was from a "kill-shelter" he had a second chance at life and gave us a first chance with a blessing to have such a grateful soul with us sharing the purest of actions only a real baby could have. He is truly sweet in nature and it's fun to watch him learn to become more playful with time. He tilts his head as he has very long floppy ears that cover most sounds and will focus his attention like a rabbit with antenna for ears. From left to right he tilts as he hears different sounds. He reacts so insecurely as he would due to the loud noises that might come out of no where. His past traumas prove he's suffered enough torture from the places we can only imagine were like hell on earth before his arrival into our hearts. These are our angels in disguise given to us from angels in the skies.

Guest's picture

Yes if you're a pet person. I am and always have been, so it's worth it to me. My kids too. They get to learn the responsibility of pet ownership.

Guest's picture
tofucute

Pets are absolutely worth the cost. They add more to the quality of my life than the expense of keeping them. And they are much cheaper than children! ;-p It has even been shown that they can be good for human health. I cut back, by not cutting back on the quality of their food, flea treatments etc. As with humans preventing health problems is cheaper than medical care and improves their and your quality of life. That being said, I wouldn't have more pets than I can afford to take care of well.

Guest's picture
tofucute

Liked and commented on FB.

Guest's picture
Carolyn

I wasn't a dog lover until a beautiful stray lab mix found me and my boys right after my husband left us. He helped us through a very tough time. Fast forward 20 years and my latest rescue, a golden border collie mix is helping me through the pain of the sudden death of my 2nd husband. There is no way I would ever want to live without the love, joy and comfort of having a dog in my life. They are definitely worth the cost. You can't even put a price on that kind of companionship.

Guest's picture
Carolyn

Like you on Facebook

Guest's picture
Julie Darling

Pets are definately worth the cost. My pets are like family, each of us has a distinct personality and we do different things together. One dog walks with me, one does tricks for treats, and one is the cuddler. They fill my life and bring meaning and adventure to each day. The relationships are special and that also fills a human need for companionship and interaction. Psychological studies show that people with pets are happier and live longer. Petting and playing are both beneficial to us as well as our pets. And history shows us that people have chosen to live with pets for thousands of years. It is human nature to bond with our animal friends. They are more than worth their costs.