8 unexpected costs I've incurred from owning a dog

PHOTO: The Business Times

Meet Cola. He's a 1-and-a-half-year-old Daschie that loves his toys. Or to be precise, loves destroying his toys (he chews on almost EVERYTHING).

Not all dogs are like him. But if your little furkid is anything like what I've just described, you'll probably relate to my dog ownership experience, and the unexpected costs involved. When we'd first welcomed our first dog, we were prepared to pay the usual vet/grooming fees, licences, food, and what not. But we'd soon realised, these were not all we needed to pay for.

Here're 5 unexpected costs I've encountered (and you might too):

Unexpected Cost 1: Pet taxis

Before we got Cola, I had a misconception that we could buy one of those pet carriers and take them on the MRT/buses when we head out. Then I found out pets were not allowed even if they were carried in through bags.

And since our beloved Cola here is a bit of a vocalist… It's kind of impossible to ever stealthily bring him on any public transportation.

Taxi, Grab and Uber drivers rarely accept rides with dogs. They fear that your dog might just poop or pee on their car seat.

So we had to book rides that are catered to specifically dogs and their owners.

Cost: Pet taxis (via the Petmate app) cost approximately $45 per ride.

Unexpected Cost 2: Pet boarding

On a normal day, we could save costs on dog-sitting by asking our dog-loving friends for help. But when we went on a family trip to Europe last January, there weren't any friends or relatives who could commit to feeding and bathing Cola for us while we were away for such a long period. Those automatic feeding bowls you keep hearing so much about don't last past a few days. Hence we had to either choose a dog-sitter, or a pet "hotel".

Cost: Dog home boarding (via Pawshake): $35 - $80 per night, and/or pet hotels: $15 - $60 per night (depending on choice of board and size of your dog).

Unexpected Cost 3: New toys, new sofa, new… everything

If you gave him a new toy, it'll be chewed up within 5 days. If you let him on the sofa, he'll dig through the fabric relentlessly till he makes a hole. On windy days when he sees the curtains dancing, he'll stop them by yanking the curtains.

Oh, and he also likes chewing on everything else he can find… such as our socks, the floor mats and rugs, our Macbook adapter wires… or even just random string. But his favourite destruction target has to be toilet paper.

Needless to say, with his tendency to chew, rummage and dig through everything in the house, we had to replace certain things in our home and making conscious changes to the way we keep our things around. Which means, more costs!

Costs: Taobao's truly a life-saver (yes, all listed prices below are from there. Because save money…). These are just a few of the changes we made:

  • Replacing our open-top rubbish bins to step-paddle bins: $9.99 each
  • Buying storage boxes to hide away ALL paper products: $12.88 each
  • Replacing the toilet paper he destroyed: $6.94 for 10 rolls
  • Replacing those torn curtains with roll-down blinds: $6.15- $8.60
  • Buying him a new dog toy every week: $0.39- $1.43

In times like these, having a good cash back card is key, especially if you can get one that rewards you for online shopping or spending in overseas currency.

Unexpected Cost 4: Plastic covers

Fido here enjoys digging through the sofa (a little too much), and sometimes he excitedly jumps onto our beds as well. He unfortunately doesn't know how to jump back down (he's short-legged and naturally afraid of jumping down from a certain height). We're also afraid he might not be able to hold his pee whenever we're not home to carry him down from the bed. So… we got plastic covers to form a layer underneath the replaceable covers on the sofa. Just in case an emergency… happens.

Costs: Replaceable sofa covers from Taobao: $18.44, and stretch wrap (for furniture): $15 per roll.

Unexpected Cost 5: Unclogging drains

Dogs are just like us, they shed fur the same way we shed hair. I used to think that since Cola's fur was the length of my eyebrow hairs, it'd be fine if I flushed them down the drain. Except it wasn't. Those small strands of fur? Time bomb waiting to happen. It's best to buy a filtration system to sieve out the fur during bath time. I found the Rinse Ace Pet Hair Snare affordable and effective.

Cost: Rinse Ace Pet Hair Snare: $4.95 (excludes shipping)

Unexpected Cost 6: Additional fencing (for balcony)

When we first brought this little one home, we didn't think the balcony area would present any danger…

…until we saw this little guy peeking out from the grilles, proving he could more than easily squeeze through the space. So we bought a soft roll of metal fencing and cable tied them to the balcony grilles.

Cost: Chicken wire mesh (from your local hardware store): $70

Unexpected Cost 7: Antibacterial creams… for the owners

Since Cola's nails were black, we were all deftly afraid of cutting his nails. It doesn't help that we'd gave him such a bad first experience when we'd accidentally cut too much off.

All the information online about seeing a quick in the centre of his nails? We couldn't spot it. Since then, each time we cut his nails, our hearts thump a bit faster. It was like playing BeanBoozled… you never knew when you've got the bad jelly bean.

These days, we bring him to a groomer instead. But during times when we got too busy, his nails can grow a little too long, and we get scratches from playing with him. So yes, we need antibacterial cream.

Cost: Betadine Antiseptic ointment: $5.90 from Watsons

Unexpected Cost 8: Antibacterial detergents

Cola loves running and sniffing around. Sometimes when we're on our way out, he runs out of the house with us too, and heads straight for the lift. He loves exploring. And sometimes we find him wandering in… less than ideal places. So to keep the house as clean as possible, we rely heavily on Dettol.

We use it to wash his pee pen.

We use it to wipe the floors.

We use it to wash the toilets.

We use it to wipe the furniture and windows.

We even use Dettol in our air purifier.

You may say it's a little OCD. But hey, we like our home clean like that.

Cost: Dettol antiseptic germicide: $38.85 for a 5L bottle on Lazada

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