How Much Would You Spend To Save Your Pet?

by Mike

We’re the proud owners of a 1 1/2 years old cat named Jasmine.  Here she is resting on our daughter’s Princess couch…

We fostered and adopted Jasmine from an animal shelter after she was found near death and infested with fleas when she was just a day or two old.  Our friend Abigail worked at the shelter and she and her husband Jim had rescued her and nursed her back to health (they had to feed her with little baby bottles because she was too young to eat on her own).

So far Jasmine has been the picture of health.  But Jim and Abigail haven’t been quite so lucky.  They own 2 dogs and 3 cats and over the last 2 years they’ve spent a small fortune to keep their pets healthy.

Here’s a quick list of the major expenses they’ve had to deal with:

1.  One of their cats had an issue where it couldn’t urinate because crystals had formed and clogged his kidneys.   I’d never heard of it before, but apparently it’s pretty common in male cats…luckily Jasmine is a girl!

Sammy had to spend 2 nights at the vet where they sedated him and used a catheter to drain his kidneys.  He’s now on a special diet (special is another word for expensive) because if he eats normal cat food it will happen again and again.

2.  Their dog Callen has gotten into all sorts of problems and has had to be rushed to the veterinary ER more than once.  One time he gorged himself on an entire 8 pound bag of cat food.  Another time Abigail left a chocolate cake on the counter and the dog stole it.  He ate the entire cake and the plastic cake holder it was in.

He also has a thyroid problem that requires a daily dose of medication and a special diet.

3.  Their other dog Lilo has some mysterious problem that they initially thought was cancer.  A couple of $1200 CAT scans determined it wasn’t cancer, but she is on medication and steroids as well as (you guessed it) a special diet.

Altogether they’ve dropped over $10,000 for vet bills in the last 2 years.  That doesn’t even include the cost of food and other pet expenses.

Now I’ve always considered myself an animal lover but when I think about all of the potential expenses that could put a real financial hardship on my family, I have to ask myself, “How much would I spend to save my pet?”

Your Pets Are NOT Like Your Kids

People without children often say, “My pets are my kids.”

With all due respect…that’s just ridiculous.

Pets can be loving and valued companions and they can really become part of your family.  But they’re not your kids.

If one of my kids fell onto a subway platform and was about to get mowed down by a train I would jump in to save them without even thinking about it. But if Jasmine fell …I’d pray she would be ok but I’m not about to make their kids lose their father so the cat could live instead.

I’m sure a lot of people will disagree with me and think I’m a jerk but I don’t care.   A pet can be a part of the family but they are never an equal.

I’m not sure what my financial limit would be to save a pet.  I hope I never have to make that kind of decision, but I know with certainty I would never put my family behind the eight ball by taking on a financial hardship to save a pet.

What about you?  How much would you spend to save a pet?

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Bucksome Boomer

The limit of what I’ll spend depends on the prognosis. I wouldn’t pay thousands for cancer treatment that has a small chance of curing it. I would (and have paid) over a thousand dollars to treat a cat attacked by a dog.
.-= Bucksome Boomer´s last blog ..Week in Review: Padres Edition =-.



Wow, $10,000 is a lot. If I remember right, we spent around $1500 on our cat when she got sick last fall, and I thought that was a lot. But to answer your question, the limit to how much I would spend would be dependent on how much spare cash I had. If I were making $20,000 a month, spending $1000 of it on a pet wouldn’t be much. But if I were making $2,000 per month, $1000 would be a fortune.


Rainy-Day Saver

Interesting post. Right now, I have two cats as pets, and no kids. Luckily, they’ve had no major medical issues, but one of them is 12 years old — and I’m starting to get concerned about what my choices will be if he DOES get very sick. While I’ve spent a few thousand on him over the years (shots, neutering, dental surgery), it’s not $10K.

Your other point, that pets aren’t kids, makes sense on the surface. But to those who don’t or can’t have children, perhaps they become more like ‘furry family members’ than they would to those who have kids. That being said, I would never spend money on a pet if it would put my family or (future) children in financial jeopardy.
.-= Rainy-Day Saver´s last blog ..Giveaway Winners! =-.



Thanks for the comments everyone. For the record, I don’t know how much I’d be willing to spend on Jasmine. Probably at least a few thousand. I had a dog before I got married and she had one vet trip that put me back about $800.

I guess it depends on how much you have if it would create a hardship.


Personal finance

$10,000 is way too much on pets. But can’t help it. Pets are loving and form am important part of your family. Most of them treat pets as their kids but one thing needs to understood is that a pet is first an animal. And an animal wold not understand everything that humans are able to. Foe example, the dog that stole a cake and also ate the plastic holder. A human being won’t do this.



I guess it depends on how much you really care for the animal. I believe the people who say their pets are their family are often earnest, as I don’t think the species of the family member is important. As someone opposed to specisism in general it makes perfect sense. You wouldn’t ponder how many thousands you’ll use to save your child – people who love their cats and dogs as family wouldn’t either. I know it’s still popular to think that humans matter most and only human family is important, but there are people who think differently. Calling that ridiculous – well, with all due respect, is a bit judgemental and even old fashioned. Oh, and for the record I don’t have kids nor pets.
.-= WorstedKnitt´s last blog ..Anemone Nemorosa sachets =-.


Money Smarts

I would never spend as much on a pet as I would on a child, but I can see spending even up to a couple thousand dollars. Of course we have an emergency fund saved up that could do this.

We love our dog, but if she were to have an issue that cost 10 grand to fix – I’d have to demure and allow her to move on to her eternal reward.

I think that one thing that often gets left out of the discussion is that often we as humans will drag things out for a pet as well because of our own attachment issues, extending their life beyond where it should be, causing unnecessary suffering for the pet. Sometimes it’s more caring to allow a pet to pass, than to extend a suffering existence.
.-= Money Smarts´s last blog ..What Type Of Retirement Account Should I Choose? Traditional IRA, Roth IRA And 401k =-.


Everyday Tips

I don’t have pets, but I have seen many of my friends pay a lot to keep their pets healthy.

For me it would also depend on the age of the animal. If it was a 17 year old dog, I would probably be less willing to pay a bunch of money than if it was a puppy. I imagine turning down treatment would be hard on your pet though.

This post reminded me of the Seinfeld episode where George had to pay a ton of money to save the squirrel he injured to keep his girlfriend happy. It was extra expensive because the vet would have to order a lot of ‘tiny instruments’…
.-= Everyday Tips´s last blog ..Tips for Traveling With Kids =-.



I like your example of the train coming to mow down your kid/pet, because it helps you see the factors more clearly. I wonder how many people who say they love their dog like a child (which I would usually say myself), would also say they would jump in front of that train?

Having said that, I would pay extortionate vet bills just because – it is only money!!


Budgeting in the Fun Stuff

Hubby and I don’t have kids, but we do have two dogs we adopted from the HSPCA and Pughearts – a 12 year old Dachshund mix and a 7 year old Pug. The dachshund mix has cost us $500 plus food, flea meds, and heartworm prevention meds since we adopted her 5 years ago. The Pug was adopted February 2009 and has already cost at least $1500 since he has had a skin tumor, 5 teeth extractions, ear infections, and major allergy issues. Even if this last round of stuff clears everything up, he’ll still be on hypoallergenic food and eye drops forever (about $500 a year and Pugs live to be 14-17 regularly).

I don’t know what our limit would be, but obviously it’s more than $1500 or $600 a year. I’d think I’d judge each scenario on a case by case basis – I wouldn’t pay for a treatment that has a low chance of success or a surgery for a dog that doesn’t have much time left anyway. That’s like my grandparent’s domino friend that is refusing treatment for prostate cancer since it’ll take longer for that to kill him than time…he’s 85 years old and thinks “enough is enough”…I’d agree.

I don’t think my dogs are as important as kids or even people in general, but I’d jump in front of a train for them if I honestly think I have enough time to save both of us – I’d do that for anybody or anybody’s pet. I wouldn’t jump down if I thought we’d both die – I’d probably only do that for my husband or family members…I don’t have kids, but I’d assume that I’d die for them too…even if they were thankless teenagers, lol.


Funny about Money

hoooboy! This is one of my favorite hobby horses…ride ‘em, cowboy!

Over time, the costs of animal care add up to a phenomenal total. At one point, I figured I spent $42,000 on my greyhound and my German shepherd (affectionately known as “the thousand-dollar-a-day dog”), if you counted the Toyota Sienna I bought to have enough room to carry 90-pound animals. In reality, the direct dog-related costs probably came to around 20 grand over the course of about about 13 years.

The pet industry is a huge money-maker, and the merchandisers and service providers involved have a million different ways to separate you from your money, most of them utterly unnecessary or downright foolish.

BTW… That epidemic of canine thyroid dysfunction? Some scientists theorize that overvaccination is one cause of it. Pet owners are hugely oversold on vaccines. Look it up…you’ll be amazed.
.-= Funny about Money´s last blog ..Moment of Fame =-.



I am so thankful we have a great vet that is very reasonable. He was recommended to us by the breeder, and we’ve used him ever since. I am glad your kitty is doing well!



I have just forked out $1700 for a Cat it had a christalized bladder and this same thing happened about 12 months it was $600 if it happens again unfortunately its going to sleep but for now it is a very lucky Cat



Hi! I have a debate for tomorow about this.. Why people spend so much money on their pets? I agree you : That’s ridiculous! I know a woman who have two daughters and two dogs, the dogs food is more expensive than the family food (because they need (the dogs) a special alimentation) her older daughter is allergic to dogs and she is always with red eyes and she can barely breath when she is home (coz the dogs hair) then the doctor said “please, she can’t live with dogs, you need to give the dogs to someone” but her mother said to the doctor: I prefer my daughter to move to move my dogs! (sorry for the bad english the debate is for my class of languaje)


humans stink!!!!

i spent 16000 on my 43 year old horse, dolly, the quarter horse and would on my 4 year old welsh other mare nelsa who had cancer!! or my dogs cats or other animas!!!

i have 16 horses, 5 dogs, 3 cats, 8 gerbils, 2 hamsters, 3 frogs, 2 parakeets, 5 parrots, and 14 frogs.



i would spend infinity on any of my pets. i am a proud owner of 2 dogs, 4 cats, and 6, fish.


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