Owning a dog is expensive. It’s as simple as that. When you purchase or adopt a dog, you are promising to take care of him for the rest of his life. Dogs live on average for 13 years – that’s a long time to commit yourself to caring for an animal. Before getting a dog, it’s important to work out your finances and plan how much you are likely to spend on the dog on a monthly and yearly basis. There are probably more things to consider than you imagine. Here is a list of one-off costs, annual costs, and other general costs that you should be prepared for.
It is a high probability that the most expensive year of your dog’s life will be his first. This is because of the (usually) high price of purchasing the dog. If you adopt a dog from a shelter then this will be a lower amount. For service dogs, such as those offered by Canines for Change, the initial purchase of the dog is in the region of $12,500. This takes into account the intensive training that the dog has undergone to ensure he is well-suited for his life as a service dog. One-off costs include:
- Purchasing/adopting the dog
- Securing your garden (e.g. suitable fencing to prevent escape)
Annual cost of a dog
There are many things that you will need to purchase on a regular basis for your dog. This could be something that you need to buy regularly, such as food, as well as items that you might only need to get once or twice a year, such as collars and food bowls. Some of items you will need to purchase every year are as follows:
- Routine veterinary checks
- Heartworm testing and protection (if appropriate)
- Flea/tick protection
- Food/water bowls
- Grooming equipment – brushes, shampoo, towels
- Waste disposal equipment/bags
- Dog license
- Miscellaneous expenses
The actual amount you will spend varies based on individual elements such as the size of the dog you have, their medical needs, the type of food you give them and the number of treats/toys you spoil them with. However, we estimate the average cost of owning dog at around $500 – $3,000 per year.
The above figure doesn’t take in to account the other occasional costs that you will incur as a dog owner:
- Trips to the groomers (especially for long-haired breeds)
- Stain and odor removers
- Boarding / dog sitters / kennels
- Dog walkers
- Professional teeth cleaning
- Training classes
- Socialization classes
- Toilet training pads
- Veterinary costs (can run into the $1000’s)
- Professional carpet cleaning
- Replacement beds/blankets/towels
- Identification tag for collar
- Replacing anything that gets chewed up/damaged by the dog
- Dental care
- Car restraint
Most dog owners will require everything in the above list at least once in their dog’s life – usually several times. Emergency veterinary treatment can easily cost thousands of dollars; therefore it is a good idea to look into pet insurance in case the worst ever happens. Make sure you read the agreement carefully as some insurers won’t cover certain procedures. If your dog has an underlying health problem then you may find it difficult to get insurance.
Can I afford a dog?
Only you can answer that question. Take the items listed above and try to work out the exact costs based on your location and the type of food/treats/etc. you expect to purchase. Remember that as your dog grows from a puppy to a full grown adult, they will require more food so this bill will increase. Add in a contingency every month for those “spur of the moment” purchases (for example when you walk past a pet store and get tempted to buy a new toy) as well as unexpected bills such as vet trips and medication. If you cannot honestly say that you can afford a dog, and would be prepared to take care of any emergencies that arise, then our advice would be to wait until your situation changes before getting a dog. After all, you don’t want to be faced with a situation where it’s either paying the rent or paying the vet’s bills. A dog truly does become one of the family and owning one can be the best decision you’ve ever made. However, making sure you are in a suitable financial state makes the experience much less stressful and will enhance your enjoyment of living with man’s best friend.