3 Tips to Identifying the Real (Hidden) Costs

The true cost of everything isn’t always financial

Dave Wentworth
5 min readJan 13, 2021


I love animals. I own a dog and love cats, but am very allergic to them, or I would probably own a cat too. I am not here to advocate against pets. My dog is 13 years old and he’s my first dog ever, so I’m aware he’s not long for this earth — although my family and I will be crushed when he passes.

He’s a good boy. His name is Bo.

By owning a dog, I have tacitly committed to walking him daily, picking up his poop, getting him shots, finding him care when we’re traveling and many more. There are many ways to find out the lifetime cost of a pet with a quick google search. I’ll refer to these as the known unknowns.

From my brief estimate (not thorough):

  1. Food: $500-$1000+/year (depends on size of dog + food quality)
  2. Vet: $250-$500/year (will vary)
  3. Medication: $100-$300/year (flea/tick, heartworm, etc)
  4. Grooming: $300+/year (depends on coat type)
  5. Boarding: $250/year (depends on your travel)
  6. Accessories: $50+/year (leash, bowl, poop bags, bed, blanket, etc)

$2500+/year is the total of these items, which can definitely increase very quickly and is probably a bit low. Most people are vaguely aware of these before buying a pet whether they do a pet budget or not. We gladly commit to these costs even if we are still a bit surprised when every vet visit happens.

Another known unknown “cost” is picking up poop. Most people know that getting a dog comes with the responsibility of keeping areas clean after your pet poops. But most probably don’t think of it in the sheer volume. If you assume a dog lives 10-14 years (depends on breed, of course) and they poop 1x per day, you are looking at 3,650–5,110 poop pickups over the course dog ownership.

Kids who are negotiating with parents to get them to let them get a dog tend to promise to take care of the pets, but they don’t envision the entire stack of work that will be needed in the appropriate volume.



Dave Wentworth

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