When we bought our mini schnauzer, Buddy, we got a good deal for a pure bred. Then we added Anna, another of the same breed and only paid a little more.  Then Los Angeles County cracked down on pet breeders and the price for mini schnauzers tripled! We got the last dog, Belle, from Colorado and our friend, a Delta pilot, flew her in for us.

     Then Anna scared us to death by eating poisonous mushrooms that popped up overnight in the back yard & became comatose (and cost $2000 in vet bills). Buddy got viciously attacked by a dog while we were on a walk (and cost $1800 in stitches and surgery). You hate to put a price on that doggie in the window, but we now have enough invested in our poopy puppies to pay cash for a Prius! We are not alone, in 2011 Americans spent almost $54 billion on their pets and 14 billion of that was on vet bills.

   Pets give us a lot in return—security (unless you believe Allstate’s Mayhem commercial), psychological wellness, companionship, someone to talk to, someone who loves you unconditionally, the opportunity to walk them (and walk ourselves). Our dogs helped my husband get over a career ending broken back when he had to spend 8 weeks in his lazy boy chair.  The pet therapy of having those puppies sleep with him through the pain was priceless.

    So we beg to ask the question:  is it worth it to get pet insurance? It depends on the coverage and your budget. First of all if you don’t have people insurance, then don’t get pet insurance! Secondly, consider the different levels and pick a plan that fits your wallet. They range from $15 for a basic plan to almost $75 for the most comprehensive coverage. They reimburse about 80% to 90% of a claim and dogs tend to be insured four times more than cats. Just keep in mind these policies won’t cover pre-existing conditions or certain kinds of genetic disorders.

    Another way to take care of your pet is to subscribe to Doggyloot.com, a group buying site for—you guessed it dog lovers. You can save as much as 70% on everything from Freezy Pups organic frozen treats, to a designer life jacket to a doggie car seat!

   And if you REALLY love your pooch and want to save money on all natural dog food, then make your own! Here’s my recipe for:

Buddy’s Favorite Brunch:

  • 2 Cups Rice (brown)
  • 6 Cups Barley
  • 8 cups Oats (slow cooking, not instant)
  • 2 lbs. Grated Carrots
  • 3-4 bunches of Broccoli – Grate Stems, Chop Flowerets
  • 6 Grated Zucchini (or, you can substitute 1 lb. Chopped Green Beans)
  • 1/2 Bunch Parsley (Chopped)
  • 4-5 Cloves of Garlic, Finely Minced


Use 8 quart stock pots.  Cook oats. In another pot, cook brown rice and barley. Cool (to save time, cook in evening and cool overnight). Next day: Cut vegetables – use food processor. Using rubber gloves, combine all ingredients in a 25 quart stock pot. Shape into balls about 1/4 lb. each. Wrap and freeze. This recipe can be easily scaled down for smaller batches.

One last thought:  how do YOU splurge on your pet and how to YOU save money on him?

Ellie Kay

America’s Family Financial Expert ®

©2016-2020 Ellie Kay


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