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How Much Is That Doggy? A Lot

Canine companionship on a budget.



This is part of "Live Large, Spend Less," a comprehensive guide to surviving (and even flourishing) in America's most expensive city. See all of the stories here.

As the owner of a 55-pound hound mix named Cal, I can testify that owning a dog in S.F. is an expensive endeavor. My pup’s walker charges around $500 a month. Vet bills are rarely less than $100. My vacation means paying for a second vacation—$45 a night at doggy day care. All told, I spend about $9,000 a year to take care of Cal.

But there are ways to cut costs. Need a pet sitter? connects pet parents with dog lovers for hire, charging rates as low as $15 a night. The sitters are vetted by the company, which insures all stays free of charge.

Vet bills aren’t cheap, but insurance takes the edge off. My dog’s policy, which I bought through the ASPCA for $33 a month, came in handy when he was hospitalized with stomach issues: I recouped $1,400 of the $2,000 bill.

Food-wise, I’ve tried everything from cooking to ordering big bags of chow from for the free shipping. Animal Connection II, in Polk Gulch and the Marina, offers a great bargain: 12-inch bully sticks for $8, or about 40 percent of what they run at other shops. Bully sticks, by the way, are dehydrated bull penises. A bit disgusting, yes, but—like the high cost of living with a dog—that goes with the territory.


Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco

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