Running the Numbers: What This Vet Spends on Her Pets

Dr. Patty Khuly's Dogs
Courtesy of Dr. Patty Khuly
A few members of Dr. Patty Khuly's pack.

You may be surprised to hear how much veterinarians shell out when it comes to their own pets. Although you could be forgiven for assuming that it’s all comped and covered, the truth is undeniably otherwise.

So have I piqued your interest in peeking behind the curtain to learn what a vet really spends?

Here’s a taste of the cumulative expenditures I’ve endured on behalf of my pets, with a special focus on my congenitally challenged (and exceptionally expensive) French Bulldog, Vincent.

My Menagerie of Pets

Dogs: 3 (plus or minus my mom’s two, whom I tend to comp out of familial courtesy)

Cats: 5 to 10 (I foster a lot)

Chickens: 11 to 12, on average, but I’m looking to expand my flock soon (I currently source an average of six eggs a day and about 12 edible hens every three to four years)

Goats: 1 to 2 (one right now, but I tend to keep two at all times, one of which I milk)

OK, so they’re not all pets, per se, but even my production animals are kind of wonderful and petlike in their own way. And what they produce, foodwise, doesn’t begin to defray the cost of their maintenance — not when you consider the hard labor I put into them! Ever muck out a chicken coop?

Monthly Animal Expenses

Here’s more or less what I spend each and every month on the fundamentals for my lovelies.

  • Dog food: $80 (15 percent discount)
  • Dog miscellaneous, like toys, treats, cleaners and blankies: $30
  • Dog medical maintenance, including blood work, vaccines and dental work: $30 (50 percent discount)
  • Cat food: $80 (15 percent discount on prescription food for two of them)
  • Cat litter: $20
  • Cat miscellaneous, like toys, treats and cleaners: $30
  • Cat medical maintenance, including blood work, vaccines and dental work: $60 (50 percent discount)
  • Goat feed and forage: $40
  • Goat milking supplies: $40
  • Goat miscellaneous, like medical needs and litter: $10 (50 percent discount)
  • Chicken feed: $30
  • Chicken miscellaneous, like medical needs and litter: $10 (50 percent discount on medical)
  • Pet sitting: $60

The grand total: $520

I think that’s kind of impressive, although I have to admit that keeping 20 to 25 pets in the kind of shape I consider acceptable takes its toll — as does the pro bono work most veterinarians fail to factor into their personal pet expenses.

Pricey Surgery Add-ons

There’s also serious emergency work to consider. To give you a taste of what that looks like, consider that vets tend to take on (and adopt) the neediest, most messed-up animals because few people can handle the kind of care these pets require. And — truth be told — we’re suckers for a challenging case.

Consider the plight of my Vincent. Over the past six years, this puppy has been through it all.

  • Cleft palate surgery: $1,200
  • Two soft palate and laryngeal sacculectomy resection surgeries: $1,000
  • Two disc decompression surgeries (with a CT myelogram and an MRI respectively): $3,000
  • Spinal subarachnoid cyst marsupialization surgery (with an MRI): $2,000

By the way, these expenses reflect a 50 percent discount. And Vincent is not done yet. A couple of additional surgeries are likely on the way. And I predict he’ll end up in one of those K9 carts.

And I didn’t even add in the $4,000 I spent on my Sophie Sue’s CTs and radiation treatments for a brain tumor (again, this is with my 50 percent discount).

All told, that's a lot of money. Still, I know plenty of die-hards pay more. And how can I blame you? After all, pets are family.

Nonetheless, it never hurts to remind those who may think veterinarians are immune to the financial stresses of pet keeping that we're susceptible to much the same — perhaps more so when you consider that we’re in a position where saying no to the needy is never easy.


To read more opinion pieces on Vetstreet, click here.

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