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Pet Economics: The Dollars & Cents of Pet Ownership

FLICKR/CC Army Medicine

We're closer to our domesticated creatures than at any point in human history -- even considering them family members. Yet the cost of owning pets can be daunting, as veterinary medicine has advanced to include expensive specialties and treatment.  And then there's doggy day care and all manner of niceties for animals, including dog-carrying backpacks and music specially composed for cats.  So, how far should we go to take care of our pets? 


  • Faith Buckley, veterinarian specializing in internal medicine. She practices at the Capital Area Veterinary Emergency Service in Concord.
  • David Grimm, Online News Editor of Science, a journal of science news and scientific research. Grimm is the author of the new book, Citizen Canine: Our Evolving Relationship with Cats and Dogs, which traces the journey of dogs and cats from wild animals to family members, both in our homes and in the eyes of the law.  
  • Monica Zulauf, President of the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire.  

If I am to be honest, she's the one who rescued me.

Here are some stories from listeners struggling with this issue:

I've had my cat for 16 years. I adopted her from a shelter when I lived in Michigan. Several years ago, she had to have 17 teeth pulled on the same day, due to reabsorptive lesion disease. Now she's old, with hyperthyroidism, so she takes $70 worth of pills every month. She's skin and bones, and incredibly picky about what she eats. She'll eat anything I'm eating, but will barely touch any canned cat food. Unfortunately, when I feed her table scraps, she throws it up.

I hear what your guest is saying about how adopted pets have hit the jackpot. There's no chance she would have made it to 16 without a sucker like me to pay her vet bills and scour the earth for a flavor of canned cat food she will reduce herself to eating. Having said that, when she finally dies, I'm going to be a waste product.     - Ron from Manchester

My dogs mean the world to me and they have had health insurance longer than I have.

My dogs mean the world to me and they have had health insurance longer than I have. One was recently diagnosed with cancer and the options were weekly chemo for the rest of his life or a pain reliever to extend his life 8 - 10 weeks. Although I could have afforded chemo, it would have been unfair to him and he went 13 weeks strong on the pain reliever. The morning he started wheezing, couldn't chase his ball, and for the first time ever didn't eat his kibble, I was determined for him to go on my terms not the cancer's. An old girlfriend came over and we gave him every treat in the house.  When he realized he could get treats from the bartender outside State Street Saloon he started barking every time we passed by. Over the years, first the bartenders, then the regulars, and then complete strangers came out with treats when he barked. So I brought him inside the bar to see where all treats came from on his last day.  I got him some ground beef & bacon from a local butcher, and got him a new squeaky ball which he squeaked until he was put to sleep.     -Josh from Portsmouth

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