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Little dog rings up big bills


On Nov. 19, 2004, I wrote a $600 check to a Seminole breeder and brought home a whimpering bichon frise puppy that my wife named Mojo.

Three days later, our veterinarian checked him, implanted a microchip and supplied his medications. First vet bill: $96.50. Lana, my organized wife, filed the bill in a folder that would soon get thicker and thicker.

How it all adds up

Curious, I recently went through the folder and pulled out a calculator: Our beloved 12-pound furball has cost us about $4,000 in vet bills and special-order food, and he's not even 4 years old yet.

There hasn't been a catastrophic health problem, just a series of nagging ones, including digestive issues.

Add in the purchase price and our conservative estimate of Mojo's other expenses, and the overall cost rises to about $7,500, maybe more.

The two biggest of the other expenses have been grooming ($1,300) and dogsitting/boarding ($1,000). Smaller expenditures have included four gates, three beds, two crates, seven collars, three harnesses, five leads, one car seat, countless toys, training classes, the pet store food and treats he used to eat . . . okay, even a "winter coat" my wife bought him.

Our spending so far works out to almost $2,000 annually, once I toss out the expense of buying him.

What do you spend?

How typical is that spending level?

Some owners, I'm sure, are much more frugal.

But according to the 2007-2008 survey of pet owners by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, a dog's basic annual expenses added up to $1,425 in eight categories, the biggest being surgical vet visits (averaging $453). And, as the association noted, owners might have had other costs that didn't fit into any of the surveyed categories.

By that measure, Mojo's $2,000 annual cost so far doesn't seem that far out of line.

And yes, Mojo, you're worth every penny. But I think I'll look into this pet health insurance I keep hearing about. I'll let you all know how that comes out, if I can afford the gas to get back to the office.

John Schlander is executive news editor. He can be reached at

Here is a sample of our bills:

Neutering: $179.84

Most recent annual exam, vaccines, blood profile, tests, license, dental cleaning with anesthesia: $350.43

One of multiple office visits for treatment of digestive problems: $207.52

Trip to emergency clinic for scratched cornea: $116.50

Case of Hills Prescription Diet d/d canned food: $27

Monthly grooming appointment, with tip: $40

Repair to carpet that he gnawed: $155

Little dog rings up big bills 06/23/08 [Last modified: Saturday, June 28, 2008 7:02pm]
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