My Expensive Rescue Dog

We got our "new" rescue dog about a month and a half ago and she has been great. She fits right into our little family and gets along great with our other dog. They even insist on sleeping on the same bed even though they both have their own.

One thing that has been interesting is how expensive our new addition has been since we picked her up.

We wouldn't have rescued her if we couldn't afford it. We knew she had some health issues when we got her and we were prepared to take care of her. We still think she's worth it and I'm not even complaining, but there have been a series of incidents that I thought I might share, as some of them have been preventable and maybe you can avoid this with your own pets.

Mange and Fleas

When we first got our new dog, her foster family told us that she was severely neglected for a large chunk of her life. She had such a severe case of fleas that her coat had developed mange. When we picked her up, her coat was recovering but not perfect yet. We weren't concerned. The foster family had given her a flea treatment before we took her home.

When we took her home she was okay for a few weeks. Then, we noticed that she was scratching a lot and at first we wrote it off to the mange and her hair growing back. But it became evident after a few days that something was wrong.

I took her to the vet who told me that she still had fleas. I was pretty shocked since she had a flea treatment less than a month before. He said it must not have been effective for longer than that and gave me a powerful flea medication for both F and T (since if one had them, the other one would likely have them too) and sent me on my way.

That vet visit cost me $169.12. Some of this was for the medication, and a portion for the checkup.


I took the treatment home and gave it to both of our dogs. It's extremely powerful and was therefore $80 just for the pills but I didn't want fleas on my dogs or in my house so we thought it was worth it. Even after the treatment, the itching continued. Our new dog was still scratching all the time, and the other wasn't, so I knew it wasn't fleas.

She had been scratching so much that her skin started to get scabby where she was scratching and it was really bothering me knowing that my pet was that uncomfortable. I called the vet and told him that she was still scratching so it must not have been fleas. He said she may have an allergy and suggested I eliminate things from her diet that were in her food to see if it helped.

We bought some hypoallergenic food, which used fish protein instead of animal protein. It didn't work at all, and our new friend kept scratching. The other one was still fine. That food was around $20/bag more than their regular food, and it didn't really work.

Next, I decided to try her on a different hypoallergenic food that eliminated wheat. With that, to allow her some relief and allow her skin and fur to repair itself, the vet gave me a medication. The food with the pills came to $86. 

This combination seems to be working.

The Tail Incident

In early August, we came home from work to get ready quickly before running out the door to a friend's engagement party. J went to go take the dogs out. He was reading the newspapers that are dropped off at the apartment's main doors while they did their business, and wasn't watching the new dog or the door. The big, heavy, apartment door with the security features closed on her poor tail.

Her tail started to bleed a LOT, and she was in a lot of pain. Any other door would have been fine, but this one is so heavy and it has those metal plates that stick out that cut deeply into her tail. We rushed her to the emergency vet who stapled her tail together and bandaged it up, giving us some medication for her to prevent infection and pain.

This cost us about $380, which was expensive but, of course, necessary. The vet had originally thought we might have to amputate, but thankfully, her tail ended up healing and it's fine (if a little pathetic looking).


So far, in health and veterinary costs, our new pet has cost $655. She's been worth it, and, of course, some of it was our fault (the tail incident), but it's definitely been a rough road with her so far. We feel terrible for her, because I can only imagine how uncomfortable it would be to be that itchy all the time.

 Have you ever rescued a dog? Was it expensive?


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37 thoughts on “My Expensive Rescue Dog

  1. We once had to have a tumor cut off of our dogs ear costing around $500. We also did several hundred dollars in tests on our other dog to try and find out what was wrong with him before he passed. When it comes to our pets, we will tend to spend a lot of money on them - especially if we don't have kids. A lot of people treat them like their children:)

  2. We have a rescue dog whom we love dearly, his name is Ricky and he is about 3 years old. I have a photo of him and me on my about page -

    Anyway, about 18 months ago we discovered he was limping a bit. We took him into the vet and it turned out that both of his front knees have what is known as elbow dysplasia. Essentially the cartilage in his knees was coming loose. He had to have an operation where they removed the excess cartilage and then he was confined for 6-8 weeks with only limited movement. It was so sad 🙁

    That cost us $5,000 and it didn't even fix him. Don't get me wrong, he is much improved but he can't walk for more than about 10-15 minutes before he starts to get sore. He also has to go back to the vet every 2 months for the rest of his life for follow up injections of cartofen which cost $30 each visit.

    I am currently looking into stem cell therapy for him. Fingers crossed.

  3. We rescued a dog early this summer. Like F, he had been really badly neglected and the agency said that he had more ticks on him than any animal they had ever seen. The poor little guy needs special food, which costs about $5 more per bag than regular dog food (grain and chicken-free), and we also had to take him for Lyme disease tests, which were a few hundred dollars.

    Is F the Boston in the picture? Our dog is a total mutt, but definitely part Boston - I wonder if they have sensitive stomachs?

  4. Holy expensive pets, Batman! We have only "rescued" a couple of cats. In fact, one is sitting in front of me right now and won't stay away from my touch screen monitor. You have no idea how hard it is to type and continually change your cursor back to the spot you were working on. Wonder why I haven't been around as much lately? I'll blame it on Cooper!

  5. We've never had a rescue dog, but have had dogs before and I remember them being quite expensive at times to care for. I remember in particular spending a chunk of change getting their teeth cleaned, which I think was more than what we spend on ourselves. My in-laws actually took them off of our hands a few years ago, which definitely helps with our budget.

  6. Dogs can definitely cost you a lot, but they are well worth it. We had a scare last summer when we thought our dog had swallowed a fish hook. An emergency visit and $400 later we found out it was nothing.

  7. We've never had a dog - but I've worked with animals a lot. One of the main pain medications for animals - Metacam - is used extensively in research applications, so if you ever need to give your dog some pain meds, it might be worth investigating whether you can order it through a life sciences provider instead of through your vet. Just be sure you get the correct dosage (for solids) or are able to prepare the correct dilution (for injectables). Dogs usually get solid pills to mix with their food.

  8. That must have been so sad when the dog got her tail stuck in the door! The cat we had in college once got her leg stuck between the bed and frame when she jumped off, and we thought she broke it. We were so worried for her and rushed her to the vet. Then when we got there, the vet looked at her and everything was fine! Expensive bill for not having to do anything!

  9. I think you may actually already know about our two expensive rescues...but if you didn't...

    Mr. Pug is my baby, he is a sweety, and he is freaking expensive. He also has allergies that require a $50 bag of food every 6 weeks, a daily steroid pill, and it cost about $2000-$2500 to get him healthy again (tests, medicines, medicated shampoo, etc) to start with when he first developed all of his problems mid-life about 2 years ago. We adopted him in 2009 at age 6 and he became an allergy beacon in 2010.

    But at least Mr. Pug has cost a small fortune over the last 3 years. We had a rescue dog, Oreo, in April 2012 for a little less than 2 weeks. I've never returned an animal before, but she literally could not be left alone - even while sedated and in a welded, metal kenel. She hurt herself to get out and then tore up our bedroom to the point we could see the subfloor. In 2 weeks, she cost more than $3000 - that covered the cost of new carpet, curing her pneumonia, curing our two dogs of pneumonia they caught from her, $600 in sedatives and vet visits about her separation anxiety issues, and $200 of different kennels that we tried and that all failed (including the welded metal one that she literally pulled apart in less than 3 hours in order to try to dig out of our bedroom).

    Yet, Ms. Doxie, our 7 year old rescue from 2005, is 14 years old now and has maybe cost a total of $1000 in vet visits over the last 7's a crap shoot.

    Yeah, sometimes dogs are just plain expensive. But as you said in the beginning, overall they are worth it. 🙂

  10. Ouch! Poor F! Hope her tail has heeled now and she is feeling better.

    We never had pets. With my allergies I don't think we ever will. From reading other per owners, it looks like pets are pretty much like kids - expensive but worth it.

  11. I didn't rescue our dog but he has hardly been any trouble for us but the cash can easily add up if you are not prepared. I actually just did a post on this the other day. I think some pet owners forget that pets will be around for many many years and need not only love and attention but reg trips to the vet, medications, and sometimes operations which you will pay out the nose for. It's best to be prepared to say, we can cover the cost like you both said then to have nothing when your pet needs you the most. Pets are costly for many reasons, and many pets get mistreated, left on the sides of roads and at the humane society for many reasons and money is a driving factor next to allergies and so on. Glad you dog has someone that loves her and would do anything for her like you both do. It is a crap shoot like another blogger mentioned.. but we have to be prepared to say, we can fund it. Cheers Mr.CBB

  12. Oh my goodness, poor F's tail! 🙁 This is the second post I've read today that's telling me I need to wait a little longer to get the dog I've wanted for a long time. It really sounds like dogs can be just as expensive as human babies! Glad F is okay and didn't need to lose the tail.

  13. That stinks about your dog's tail! Both of our dogs are rescue dogs. One has never had anything wrong that was expensive, while the other is a french bulldog who is ALWAYS sick.

  14. So sad about her tail! 🙁

    Sorry to hear that. I'm always scared of accidently shutting the door on my dogs big ol' tail, luckiliy hasn't happened yet. Sounds like you've spent a few hundred, but it's weel worth the cost!

  15. Ah sorry to hear about all the expenses, and also sorry to hear about the tail and the allergies. My father-in-law has a springer spaniel that has to be on roids for the rest of his life. When he's not on them he gets super itchy (and smells absolutely terrible because his ears get infections....).

    We plan on getting a rescue dog in just a couple months! Definitely will set some money aside in case she has issues like allergies.

  16. Oh no, sorry to hear you've had all these issues. My mom has two rescue dogs and unfortunately they have cost her a fortune. They are super picky eaters (which isn't too bad), but one of them has a lot of allergic reactions which has resulted in a lot of vet bills. He gets sick even from eating grass. But my mom loves those dogs like crazy and so the cost of keeping them healthy has been worth it.

    Hopefully F will get better soon and the vet bills will go down. She's lucky to have you as parents!

  17. This is another issue that worries me about getting a dog. You can't really just go out and get a new one like with some other pets because humans and dogs have a special connection. But at the same time, it'd be tough to spend more on a dog's medical bills than my own. Doggy HSA anyone? 🙂

  18. No, but I had a friend who ran a rescue organization - that wasn't cheap. I think with any rescue animal, they're going to come with medical and possible behavioural issues, so you have to be prepared for costs.

  19. I've never offically rescued a dog but when I do end up with a dog, I'm adopting through our local SPCA. I've gone and visted a few times but it's really hard for me to be able to walk away without one-I want them all when I go. I count pets as part of the family so anything I would do to make myself healthy, I'd do for them. It comes with the "cost" of having a pet.

  20. That's one of the reason's I'm not sure if I'll get a pet in the future, the cost. I really love cats though, but I lived with one with my old roommate and her cat wrecked a lot of furniture. Not sure if I want to go through that again. Then again, my parents have a cat and I frickin' love that cat to death!

  21. Charleen Larson

    It's awful when pets get sick and even worse is the unexpected hit to your finances. After 17 years of cats (at one point we had 7), if I could do it differently I would set aside a fixed amount every month.

    I'm glad your rescue is doing better. People who adopt rescue animals are the best.

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