Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Much Is Too Much to Spend on Pets?

By Julia Williams

I recently found a great blog called “24 Paws of Love” that chronicles life with six big dogs. I’m sure it’s not easy to meet the physical and emotional needs of six dogs of any size, but these wonderful people do it willingly because these dogs are family. What inspired me to write this post was their commentary about some of the things people say to them about their dogs. They’re asked how they can afford to feed so many dogs, or told that they’ll never get ahead financially unless they “get rid of some of the dogs.”

Wow – really? I have to wonder about the type of person who could say such things. They’re not pet people obviously, and they seem to be lacking in self censorship and social decorum. Would they walk up to “Octomom” Nadya Sulleman and tell her, “It must be hard to feed 14 children, you should give some of them up.” Unthinkable, right? Never mind that Nadya herself admitted on Oprah recently that she was financially destitute. It’s just not socially acceptable to tell a parent how many children they can or should have. It may or may not be the best choice for someone to have 14 kids, but it’s their choice. Likewise, it should never be acceptable to comment on how many pets a person chooses to have or how much money they spend on them – the exception being, animal hoarders who aren’t capable of caring for vast numbers of dogs and/or cats.

If someone wants to have six big dogs and they’re able to feed them and keep them all in good health, so be it. What they spend on dog food and other pet expenses is nobody’s business. Yet I know from personal experience that some people do feel it’s acceptable to comment on such things. Years ago I casually mentioned an expensive vet visit to my mother and she said matter-of-factly, “It would be cheaper to put him to sleep.” When I recovered from my shock and told her how offensive that was to me, she said she didn’t mean I should do it, just that it would cost less. Well yeah, that was true…but still. I’m just at a loss to understand how anyone can even think such things. I’m 100% sure that if her human grandchild needed costly medical care, my mother would not say something similar.

This illustrates to me what a gigantic gap there is between the thinking of “pet people” like myself, and non-pet people like my mother or strangers who comment on how many dogs someone has. It’s a chasm bigger than the Grand Canyon, really – a hole so deep and wide that neither group will ever be able to see the others point of view. Pet people know that you can’t possibly put a price tag on the unconditional love an animal gives so freely.

So how much is too much to spend on pets? There is no such figure, because it’s an individual decision. However, I read an article stating that with recent advances in veterinary medicine, pet owners are increasingly faced with that question. One pet owner reportedly paid $25,000 for a procedure to save their pet’s life. Is that too much? There’s no right or wrong answer; it’s an individual choice. One thing I do know, though, is that those who’ve never had a special relationship with a pet will never understand how someone could spend that sum on “just a pet.” 

My cats never have been, and never will be, “just pets.” They are my family. They are true healers who can make everything right with just one lick or a soulful gaze. They are loving, giving beings that deserve the very best. Pets give so much, and ask for so little. Sometimes I marvel at how lucky I am that these angels with fur are in my life. And sometimes, I feel sad for those who will never know what a great, priceless gift it is, to be loved by an animal. In the end, I’m just happy to be a “cat mom,” and eternally grateful for their love.

Read more articles by Julia Williams


  1. That sounds like a great blog. I need to go visit it. I am the same way. I couldn't live without my animals. I get so upset at people who don't understand. I put one of my cats to sleep a couple of months ago and a friend ( at least I thought so) says to me, Well that is one less to feed. It really upset me but I know that there are two kinds of people in the world. One that loves the animals and one that uses the animals for their own pleasure. Or the people that see no use to having animals. They will never experience the great love of an animal. Sorry this is so long. You struck a nerve with this subject.

  2. Thanks for stopping by our blog. We know the 24 Paws of Love too. And we agree totally with your opinion. As long as people are meeting their own human responsibilities and can care properly and responsibly for the pets, then the number shouldn't be a concern. Hoarders are a totally different story.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  3. Oh Marg, At first I was going to say that I couldn't believe someone would say such a horrible thing to you. But then I realized that, sadly, I can believe it. I would disassociate myself immediately from anyone like that, because clearly we are not like-minded. Oh, and never apologize for long comments -- I love them. Thank you for visiting today.

  4. I totally agree that it is a personal choice on how much to spend on your animals. Where I do get annoyed is with Vets. I have had many Vets over the years and there is a distinct feel if you do not DO ALL you are a bad person. I take care of my dog, get all his shots, when he has health issues we go to the Vet. But it bothers me with the constant request for follow up visits which end up being a 5 minute visit and a $70 bill. Ok, my rant is over :)

  5. It goes the other way too, though. People can love their pets but be unable to spend extravagent amounts to save them. People should hold their tongues and not condemn those people either. Because, as I see it, a fairly long life in a happy home that can't afford crazy expenses, is better than being euthanized at a shelter due to lack of space.

  6. There are four Dobermans in our family, I am 87# and our two 1 year old puppies are 93# and growing bigger each day and we have a very petite DoberLady that is only 50#. That doesn't include the rescue Dobes we pick up for Doberman Rescue and foster for a few days until room opens up or that need medical attention. My two-legger gets comments all the time about "get ride of a few dogs" because they think that four big dogs are just too many for one person to have. Worst part is she is single lady but after they guys find out she has four big dogs they tend to loose interest all of a sudden. That is fine my me, just means more room on the bed for my big furry butt! ;-)

  7. Thanks for visiting and commenting today!

    My current cats, and any other animals that I've been lucky enough to be adopted by, are far more than pets - they're like family!

    I have seen the grain-free food in our local pet store but I didn't know Felidae was Canadian! I'll have to give it a try.

  8. The Monkeys -- Did you mean "Canidae," not Canadian? FYI, All FELIDAE and CANIDAE pet food is made in the United States.

    Thanks for visiting the RPO blog!

  9. Great post, Julia! We love 24 Paws of Love.

    Our cats are definitely our "furry kids with tails," and they mean the world to us. We will always do whatever we can for them, and always try to make sure our decisions are based upon their quality of life.

  10. I think a lot of times it comes down to more than cost. In November, we found out that a lump which had literally popped up overnight on one of our dogs' heads was cancerous. It was a lot to take in. I did a lot of research on her type of tumor and spoke to Dr. Cuoto at OSU since he's the big Greyhound cancer vet. He gave a recommendation, but my vet didn't really understand it or get it. She spoke to someone at the U of I and suggested that we get nineteen radiation treatments for her. I weighed the options. In the end, I just can't put her through nineteen radiation treatments for a lot of reasons. If the money guaranteed her health and well being, I'd gladly pay it, but what comes along with it isn't worth the money. I always weigh the possible benefits and problems against the amount of money, along with quality of life. It's a heavy burden at times, but one I gladly shoulder for the joy they bring into my life.

  11. Thank you Julia for the wonderful mention on your post and that we had the honor to inspire this post. We thanked you yesterday, but for some reason our comment didn't go through, so again Thank you.

  12. Hi! I liked your post very much but just wanted to add a comment. There are people out there that can certainly afford to spend thousands of dollars on medical bills for pets but how many of these innocent, loving animals are being kept alive simply because the owners can't let go? I have seen cases of what I would consider the worst kind of abuse to prolong an animal's suffering simply to avoid the heartache that inevitably occurs when a loved one dies. They trust us to feed, care for and love them their whole lives. Why shouldn't we show a little mercy when their quality of life is gone? I have had to euthanize horses, dogs, cats and even a rabbit and it broke my heart every time to do it, but each one of them told me in the clearest language when it was time and as the final act of love and respect, I let them go.

  13. Having rescued four dogs myself and then getting a puppy, my dogs are definitely family to me. I do agree that when a difficult decision presents itself it does become a personal choice on how to handle it. I am fortunate to be able to do whatever it takes for my kids but I also understand not everyone can do that.


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