A Month Buying Treats for a Havanese on a $90,000 Dual-Income Salary in Kansas City · The Wildest

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Petty Cash: a person with a small Havanese dog
bmanzurova / iStock / Kinship Creative

Welcome to Petty Cash, a series where we find out just how much real people are spending on their pets in a month — from weekly costs and treat budgets to surprise vet visits and next-level splurges. To take part in Petty Cash, submit your monthly pet spends  here.

Pet’s name: Ava

Age: 8-ish

Breed: Havanese

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Jobs/industry: Teacher and writer

Combined household salary: $90,000

What’s your gotcha story?

A neighbor of ours was looking to rehome Ava due to some unexpected family circumstances. Ava was a runner when left outside unattended, even in a fenced-in yard, and had ended up at our front porch a few times. So, we already had a relationship with her. My husband and I hadn’t been planning to get a dog, but when our neighbor asked if we would want to adopt Ava, we both agreed that this dog was perfect and needed to live with us.

How much did your pet cost?

$0. The previous owner very kindly took care of her spaying as well as her initial vaccinations.

How much (roughly) did you spend on up-front costs?

Our total upfront costs were about $95. We still have the kennel she came with ($0). We bought her a new collar ($10), a new leash ($15), new food/water bowls ($20), and food ($40).

How much do you spend on pet insurance each month, and what does it include?

$49.95 per month. Ava has a monthly wellness plan with her vet, which isn’t as comprehensive as insurance but covers twice-annual checkups, annual dental cleanings, and provides discounts on some medication.

Have you spent any money on a health emergency?

I paid $757.27 for an extraction of Ava’s cracked tooth.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought for your pet?

Aside from grooming, which is about $85 every 12 to 16 weeks, our most expensive regular purchase for Ava is her flea/tick medication, which costs $240 for a 12-month supply.

What’s the most outrageous purchase you’ve made for Ava?

We tried getting her snow booties ($15), which was only outrageous because she absolutely will not wear them, let alone keep them on. So last winter, we just shoveled snow to create a patch of grass for her to go to the bathroom, which only costs us our dignity.

Have you ever bought anything inspired by your pet/with their face on it?

Yes, but most of the Ava-themed items in our house are gifts from other people. My recent favorite is a watercolor painting of Ava by Victor Carlesi, which was a Christmas gift from my sister. A few Christmases ago, I gave everyone in my family something with a drawing of Ava on it: a mug, socks, a sweatshirt, a t-shirt, and a pillow. All together, and with a coupon for 20 percent off, it was about $80.

Do you have any tips for saving money on pet spending?

We’re pretty frugal in general, but we’ve spent very little money on dog toys. Mostly because Ava will only play with this plush can of sparkling water ($16.95) or a dish towel. Last year, we discovered Ava is a big fan of a rolled-up dish towel as an enrichment activity.

Several times a day, I’ll ask Ava, “Do you want… enrichment?” and she loses her little mind. I put a small handful of her food or a couple treats in a kitchen towel, roll it up, and tie it in a knot, and that will keep her occupied for a good 15 minutes. She’s gotten frighteningly good at untying knots.

Week One

Purchase 1: Trader Joe’s dog treats, $10.95

I love buying Ava new treats for no reason other than I want to, and she likes them. Each of these treats is pretty big for an 11-pound dog and harder for me to break into small pieces than expected. Because of this, they’re not a new favorite for any of us, but Ava eats them all the same.

Purchase 2: Monthly wellness plan, $49.95

We’re charged for Ava’s wellness plan with Banfield Pet Hospital at the beginning of every month. Ava absolutely does not like going to the vet (she shakes during the entire car ride) but usually does pretty well once she’s there.

Week Two

Purchase 1: Costco dog food, $49.99

Ava’s diet has fortunately been consistent since we got her. She’s also a grazer and will eat bits of her food throughout the day. This week, we’re running low on food. (Read: She has about 10 days worth of food left, and my husband and I are planners.) Per usual, we get a 40-pound bag of adult dog food from Costco, which will last several months.

Week Three

Purchase 1: Grooming, $85

We take Ava to a local groomer every three-ish months, where they wash and cut her fur, trim her toenails, and (bless them) do an anal gland extraction. Like the vet, Ava is not a fan of going to the groomers, but they’ve said she does well once she’s there. I’ll drop her off in the morning and get a call to pick her up sometime in the early afternoon. It’s essentially a grooming appointment and a day of doggie daycare in one. 

Purchase 2: Dental chews, $19.99

I’m always on the hunt for good dog dental chews since we don’t brush Ava’s teeth as often as we probably should. We usually get Greenies, but this month, I got a bottle of the ProDen PlaqueOff soft chews to try something new. Ava seems to like these as much as Greenies but eats them pretty quickly.

So, I’m not sure how effective they are for plaque removal. Also, her breath still stinks like the deer poop she refuses to stop sneakily eating in the backyard. We’ll probably go back to Greenies once these are out.

Week Four

Purchase 1: Blue Buffalo Bits training treats, $14.95

Ava likes the Blue Buffalo Bits training treats, so we buy these regularly. They’re small and soft and are great for the aforementioned kitchen towel-enrichment activity. We still have plenty of the Trader Joe’s treats left, but variety is the spice of life, even for a dog whose favorite food is deer poop.

Purchase 2: New dog dishes, $15

To be completely honest, when I was tracking my monthly purchases for Ava, I felt like I… wasn’t buying her enough stuff? I don’t know what “enough” would be; we spend more on her grooming than I do on my own haircuts. Regardless, I was running errands at Target, saw some cute new dishes, thought about how gross her current dishes are, and decided it was worth it. Ava is completely indifferent to the new dishes, but I like them more.

Total monthly spend: $245.83

  • Wellness plan: $49.95

  • Food: $49.99

  • Treats: $45.89

  • Grooming: $85

  • Accessories: $15

What do you think about how much you spent on your dog? Will you change anything moving forwards?

It’s about as much as expected. This month was probably above average since we had a couple big expenses that will last a few months (grooming and food). Overall, Ava’s a pretty healthy, low-maintenance pet, and our only dependent. As long as she doesn’t decide she wants to go to college, we’ll continue to maintain the amount that we spend on her.

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