Cost of Owning a Dog

FT Contributor  | 

How To Decide If You Can Afford A Dog

Adding a canine companion to your household can be a challenging but rewarding experience. Owning a pet is not only a financial sacrifice, but also a huge time commitment. Before committing to dog ownership, you should understand the monetary responsibility involved and adjust your personal budget to ensure a positive outcome for both you and your new best friend. The cost ranges below are approximated averages based on information from PetCoach,PetHub, Rover,PetCareRx and American Kennel Club.

Initial Cost Of Owning A Dog

Pet Basics

Before bringing your new dog home, you’ll need to purchase a few key items like: food and water dishes, a leash, a bed, a crate or kennel, and maybe a few chew toys to protect your shoe collection. These are all necessary for the comfort of your animal and cost anywhere from $400 to $600.

Adoption vs Breeder

Once you’ve done your research to decide the type of dog that matches your lifestyle, you will likely have an idea of whether you will be purchasing from a breeder or adopting from a shelter or humane society.

Both adoption and purchasing from a breeder have their pros and cons. For example, purchasing from a breeder typically means you get to raise your puppy from as young as six weeks old. However, purchasing from a validated and professional breeder means you’ll likely pay more for your dog, anywhere from $800 to $1500 depending on breed. Good breeding can help you save money down the line with bills related to degenerative and temperament disorders related to “puppy mills”. Raising a dog from a young age also requires more time for training and care, but is a benefit because you can teach them good behaviors from the beginning. There’s a chance an adopted dog may require behavior correction that is more difficult at an older age.

Conversely, adoption fees can range from $400 to $800 and almost always include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, tracking chips, and more depending on the shelter. In order to ensure the dog is going home to a loving “forever” family, there is usually an application process involved. Adopting a dog that’s already a few years old may mean he or she has less energy than a puppy. This option could require less training time, depending on the obedience level.

Initial Shots and Medical Costs

The average medical cost [for a first year puppy] is around $75–100. These costs will include core vaccines, which are administered in a series of three: at 6, 12, and 16 weeks old. It is also a good idea to get your dog “fixed” once they’ve hit the appropriate age. This one time procedure typically costs about $200, but programs exist that help with vet bills for those that otherwise can’t afford it.

Preparing Your Home

If you own instead of rent, the decision to bring a dog home is yours alone, but as a renter you’ll need to make arrangements with your property manager to confirm your dog is allowed to live with you. Pet fees are often required before bringing your dog home, and can cost anywhere from $300 to $800 per year. This fee is meant to cover additional cleaning, repairs, and maintenance due to the presence of your pet. It is very important to take care of this beforehand to avoid a breach of contract that could result in your eviction.

“Puppy-proofing” your home includes but is not limited to: gates (to contain the mess), trash-cans with lids, and carpet/floor cleaner for those accidents that will happen.

If you intend on your dog living outside, you can expect to pay about $100 to $300 for a dog house to protect from the elements, and also to provide a safe place. You may want to purchase an additional food and water dish for outside, too.

Licensing and Training

Most cities require that you register your dog for about $10 to $20.This is primarily to help reunite lost dogs with their owners. These fees can be more expensive for dogs that have not been spayed or neutered.

You can expect to pay about $150 for obedience training. Group training sessions are less expensive than private one-on-one lessons. There are countless books and online resources on the subject.With enough time and patience, you can train your dog at home for less.

Long Term Costs

Depending on size and overall health, your dog’s life can range anywhere from 9 to 14 years. Costs will vary from year to year, but some are relatively predictable.

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is a great idea if you can afford it. It is always better to have it and not need it than the other way around. Just like car insurance, your pet insurance premium will depend on the “make and model” of your dog. The most typical range is between $30 and $50 per month. Even though it may seem like a lot on top of everything else, you’ll be happy you did if your dog eats an entire pack of socks when you run to the store to grab milk, or needs surgery caused by hip dysplasia later in life.

Food, Toys, and Grooming

Depending on the quality of kibble and size of your canine, you can expect to pay $15 to $40 per month for food. Although your dog doesn’t need toys, most owners spend about $20 to $30 a month to keep their dogs’ mouths busy and away from chewing on shoes, furniture and anything else that looks tasty. There are now subscription services like Barkbox that will send a monthly package of toys and treats straight to your door.

On top of brushing your dog regularly, you’ll likely want to take them to a professional groomer a few times a year, where you can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $100. Many dog owners choose to do their own grooming, and although it may take longer to get the same result, the cost of clippers and a bottle of Mane ‘N Tail will stretch your dollar much further than paying a professional.

Unexpected Costs

Like everything else in life, you can’t plan for everything. Your dog will be no exception to this rule and you might have to use a credit card or dip into your savings to cover unexpected costs.

Injury and Illness

The healthiest, most disciplined dog is still likely to have a few vet visits outside routine check-ups. Maybe they got kennel-cough when you went to your best friend’s destination wedding, or they were plagued with fleas at the dog park, or attacked by another animal.

Liability/lawsuit

Your dog is your property, and therefore you are responsible for paying for damages caused by its behavior. A well trained dog is typically safe, but if they feel threatened, they could lash out. Make sure to know what to do if your dog bites someone. In what is considered a more common situation, you will end up coming home to your roommate searching for their retainer only to find bits of colored plastic sprinkled around the dog bed.

Natural Wear and Tear

As time goes on you’ll need to replace the dog bed, collars, and leashes every year or so. It is more than likely that you’ll end up replacing chewed up shoes, tv remotes, and anything else they can get their paws on. Retraining yourself to keep “chewable” items out of reach will help prevent property damage. There are too many videos out there that depict some version of an owner coming home to a pile of foam that used to be a love seat, so prepare for the possibility of replacing items like furniture and pillows at least once.

Boarding

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to take your dog with you every time you have to leave town. A cheap option is to bribe a friend with food and drink. If friends aren’t available, you’ll likely need to board your pet. The cost of boarding depends on things like where you live, the breed, and the length of stay. A safe bet is somewhere between $25 and $45 per night.

Cost to Own a Dog

The table below shows approximations for the up front, long term, and unexpected expenses of dog ownership. Every dog is different and you could end up spending much less, but this is a reasonable number to base your decision around.

Based on the numbers below, you should expect your dog to cost about $4,000 to $5,000 the first year. That may seem like a lot, but to put things in perspective, that’s less than $14.00 per day on the high end. Think about expenses you can cut out to stick to your budget so you and your new best friend can start your adventure together.

Expense Up Front(One Time) Long Term(Annual) Unexpected Extras (Annual)
purchase price $750 x x
spay/neuter $300 x x
vaccinations $85 x x
Flea & Tick Prevention $120 x x
Heartworm Prevention $75 x x
Harness/Leash $30 $20 x
Food/Water Dish $30 $15 x
Food x $600 x
Treats/Toys $40 $300 x
Crate $100 x x
Bed $65 $50 x
Grooming Supplies $10 $50 x
Pet Cleaner $10 x x
Pet insurance x $480 x
Annual exam x $250 x
Emergency x x $500
Teeth Cleaning x $30 x
Training $100 $100 x
Boarding x x $300
License Fee x $10 x
Pet Deposit x $500 x
Damage x x $200
Totals: $1,705 $2405 $1000

Image Sourcehttps://pixabay.com/

This post was updated September 27, 2018. It was originally published September 28, 2018.