Can You Afford a Dog?

Having dogs in my life has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.  But I have to say, it isn’t always easy financially.   In fact, the rising cost of dog guardianship and overall economic downturn has, unfortunately, led to many people turning over their pets to shelters.  I was having a conversation with a friend one day and she was quite insistent that people that cannot afford a pet should not get one in the first place.  Well while I agree with that, in some cases, situations come up, people lose jobs or homes and encounter things they did not imagine when they took on the responsibility of dog guardianship.    Personally, for me, I cannot imagine a situation where I would ever give up my dogs but some people become so overwhelmed with life they feel their only option is to give up the dog. So today, let’s talk about the true cost of raising a dog.

Purchasing or Adopting your Dog:

The initial cost of a dog varies. Unless you are given a dog for free, you can expect to pay an adoption fee. Oftentimes, this fee is also used to help support the shelter costs and living expenses for keeping other dogs. These fees can be anywhere from $100 to $400+ dollars. Dogs purchased from a breeder can cost several thousand dollars, especially for rare, purebred dogs or new designer breeds.

Initial Expenses:

Once you get your dog home, it is recommended to bring the dog in for a veterinary appointment. The average cost of a medical exam is around $70 for dogs. If there is anything wrong with the dog, including bacteria or other infections or illnesses, medications require additional money. Puppies require additional shots, vaccinations and de-worming in order to maintain their health. Other initial costs may include a crate, a carrying crate, a collar, leash or harness, food and water bowls, toys and treats. These initial fees all add up to well over $100.

A puppy will require spay or neuter surgery. Unless the dog will be bred professionally, this is absolutely necessary. These surgeries average around $200 although some animal clinics may periodically offer reduce rates.

You may also want to enroll your puppy or new dog training classes.  These classes can cost from $10 to $100 per hour for private session or can be purchased as a group classes where the price will vary based on the number of weeks included in the class.

Annual Expenses:

While puppies and new dogs tend to be quite expensive in the first year, there are annual expenses that will need to be considered each year. Food can add another several hundred dollars or more per year to the cost of raising a dog. The cost will vary based upon the size and appetite of the dog, as well as the type of food you feed your dog. Experts agree that buying a higher-grade dog food can reduce the number of expensive health problems that will crop up later, but this will still increase the regular expense.

There are also medical expenses even for healthy dogs. Regular medical exams average $235 per year, not including emergency situations or medications and illness. As your dog ages, most vets will recommend semi-annual exams.  For example, I have two labs, both considered senior dogs (seven years are older is considered senior). I took them in for their semi-annual exams just yesterday and it cost $770.

And let’s not forget toys and treats!   I bake most of my own dog treats and even make some of my own dog toys but I still spend several hundred dollars a year for two dogs for toys and treats.

I am also a big believer in on-going dog training.  Not only is it good for your companion, it will strengthen the bond between you. This can add another several hundred dollars per year.

Pet insurance is another annual expense that is optional but can save a lot of money in the long run.

If like me, you need to travel for your job or you just like to travel for pleasure without your pet (poor Venkat), boarding fees can also add to your costs.  Most kennels charge by the weight of the dog and it can cost from $10 to $100 per night. I have someone come to the house to doggie sit so in addition to the cost to care for the dogs, I also pay for food for the sitter since, after all, she is leaving her house to stay in mine.

As you can see, the initial and ongoing expenses of raising a dog can really add up.  But to me, the joy a life-long companion brings is unmatched by the financial expense. Just make sure you are prepared!


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