Featured Image A coworker once told me she had an account set aside for her dog. I’d tried my best not to look at her like she was crazy and I joked that she should also include him in her will. But now, after owning the world’s most high-maintenance dog, I get it. Dogs are expensive! We got our English Bulldog, Windsor, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. (Everyone thought I was crazy and looking back now, I was!) I wanted my daughter to grow up with a K-9 companion and I figured it’d be “easier” to train a puppy while pregnant than to take care of a baby AND a puppy at the same time. But what I failed to consider was the expense! Having your first child comes with a major shift in your budget but adding a puppy around the same time wasn’t easy on my wallet either. The initial cost. Even if you consider adoption over the purchase of a pet, there’s usually a fee you have to pay. And where does every new dog owner go as soon as they pick up their furry friend? To the pet store. There’s leashes, collars, pet beds, crates, treats and toys to be bought after all. I’ve found that pet specialty stores tend to be a bit pricier on these items, so check at your favorite department store first. The food. Not all dog food is created equal. If you buy the “cheap stuff,” your dog will likely need to eat more because it can be less nutrient dense. And I wasn’t prepared for my dog to need specialty food because of allergies. To save a little, I’ve found Tractor Supply to have the best prices on the more expensive dog food brands as compared to the pet specialty stores. I’ve also heard great things about pet food delivery which sounds a heck of a lot better than lugging a 50 lb. bag of food out of the store. The vet visits, oh the vet visits. Every time I take my dog to the vet, I feel like I walk away a couple hundred dollars poorer. Vaccines and flea and tick treatment costs add up. Don’t forget about spaying and neutering which can easily cost a few hundred. Keeping aside an account for my dog didn’t sound like such a crazy idea after a few unexpected trips to treat ear infections and a leg injury. Vacation funds aren’t the same. When you own a pet, it makes traveling much more expensive. I have to factor in the cost of a pet sitter or kennel when saving for a weekend trip or a long vacation. Long gone are the days to just pack up and go. I have to plan ahead and make arrangements so our pup is in good hands while we’re out enjoying family time. The damaged goods. If you’ve ever had a puppy, you know how those sharp puppy teeth need to chew. And do they ever find the cheap flip flops to chew? Of course not! It’s always the expensive pair of boots you just splurged on, am I right? I’ve had to replace one too many items that our dog has destroyed. Add in a few rounds of carpet cleaning service the costs quickly add up. But the bottom line is, we love our dog and the bond my daughter has with her “Windsor puppy” has been worth every single penny. I don’t know exactly how much we’ve spent owning a dog and honestly, I’m afraid to do math. According to the American Kennel Club, it can cost around $15,000 over the course of your dog’s life. I’m not advising NOT getting a dog because, come on, they’re the sweetest. But I do recommended factoring in the costs beforehand. And if you set aside your own account just for your furry friend, I will not judge you! Audra F. Hi, I’m Audra! I’m a marketing specialist here at VACU. I joined VACU right out of college at VCU 5 years ago. In that time, I got engaged, married my college sweetheart and had two babies; a girl and a boy. I’ve learned a lot about finances working at the credit union, but even more from navigating these life changes. So I’m excited to share my personal financial journey with you and what I’m learning along the way. Other stories by Audra F.