How Much Money Does It Really Cost to Own a Dog These Days?
“There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my pet!” Sound familiar?
We spent $66.75 billion on our pets in 2016, according to the American Pet Products Association. Rover.com claims most new dog owners will spend $2,858 on their furry companions in the first year alone. Some more rational spenders might argue that amount of money would make a nice dent in student loans, child care, or even a mortgage payment. But to many, dogs are part of the family. And sometimes, puppy love trumps rationality — such as the time you threw a birthday party for your boxer, showering him with edible treats and birthday toys.
In terms of pet spending, there are the standard chew toys, beds, dog bowls, and leashes to account for. But where does the rest of your money go? Let’s take a look at a few common costs of owning a dog sure to set you back a couple thousand dollars each year. And let’s all stop pretending we’re not guilty of No. 8, OK?
1. The adoption fee
We’ll start with the most obvious expense: the actual cost of the dog. These days, adopting is almost as common as buying from breeders. And according to The Nest, adopting from a shelter can run up to $250. But, according to PetMD, purchasing a dog from a breeder can cost upward of $500 to $1,000, depending on the breed.
Next: Most owners are doing the equivalent of fingerprinting their dogs.
Your world will probably stop turning the day your dog runs away from home. Even though you think it’ll never happen to your pup, overcrowded animal shelters say differently. Thus, many owners invest in microchips to permanently ID their dog and enter them into a national database (similar to the fingerprint database for your children). The average cost of this precautionary measure is roughly $45, though shelters might already have microchipped their animals.
Next: Because regular vet bills aren’t pricey enough
3. Emergency procedures
An Associated Press and Petside.com survey found most pet owners would pay $500 to save their pet. But Veterinary Pet Insurance says common pet claims often exceed $1,000. Torn ligaments run $1,578. Removing a foreign object from a dog’s intestine? Try $1,967. And your emergency savings fund probably isn’t set up for more than one sock-in-stomach scenario.
Next: The cost of keeping track of your dog while at work
4. Pet cameras
Maybe you’re unwilling to leave your pup with a boarding facility and would prefer to allow Fido to room freely at home. So instead of browsing Facebook at work, you’re watching him tear up the kitchen trash via a video monitor. If you’re lucky, video will show them sleeping soundly and barking at the UPS guy. Regardless, the cost of in-home pet cams and monitors can range anywhere from $60 to $380 at Best Buy, depending on specific features, such as Wi-Fi, HD resolution, social sharing capabilities, and treat dispensers.
Next: The price of routine vet visits
5. Routine pet exams
Any respectable dog owner would commit to regular vet checkups and general wellness initiatives. Routine pet exams can cost anywhere from $45 to $200 annually, according to Rover.com. And that’s not accounting for inevitable pet emergencies that are bound to surface throughout a dog’s lifespan.
If you want to keep your costs down, carefully research different breeds, as some dog breeds are more injury prone than others. For example, the Bernese mountain dog has been known to set owners back $1,361 in just one year of medical costs.
Next: Dog food is not just dry kibble and treats these days.
6. Dog food
It used to be two scoops of dry kibble daily and a treat for good measure. Today, it’s trending diets and nutritionally enriched meat products that crowd the dog food shelves. If your dog has special dietary needs, such as low sodium or high calcium, expect a large price gouge at the pet store. On average, however, Rover.com reports that owners should expect to pay about $45 a month for dog food and treats.
Next: Who will watch your dog?
7. Lavish home care
Unless you work for a flexible company — such as Google, which allows dogs on site — you’ll need to provide doggie home care if you aren’t comfortable with a kennel. Your four-legged baby deserves only the best in care services, right? That will cost you an average of $37 per day, according to Angie’s List.
Next: Don’t pretend you’re not guilty of spending money on this next expense.
Paris Hilton isn’t the only dog-obsessed owner to dress their pooch. Many canine lovers spend their hard-earned money on dog jackets, hair bows, and sweaters. No, you might not be one of those people who dress their dogs in Versace. But festive bandanas and snow booties also count in this expense category.
Next: See how much it costs to dog-proof your home.
9. Dog-proofing the house
Expenses don’t dwindle after you purchase and vaccinate a dog. Toddlers and pets alike both require measures to make sure your house is safe for them. This includes hiding loose wires, latching low cabinet doors, and fencing in the backyard. The upfront cost of keeping curiosity at bay? Petfinder prices yard fencing at $2,500, excluding maintenance and repairs.
Next: Apartment shopping with a dog is exponentially more expensive.
10. Pet deposits
Don’t forget about the deposits you’re required to fork over every time you move to a new rental unit. Upfront pet deposits can get as high as $500. And don’t discount the possibility of higher rent prices overall, as many apartment complexes place restrictions on breeds, forcing you to look elsewhere for a home that suits your needs.
Next: Small grooming fees add up to big expenses.
11. Dog pampering
Sure, when you first budgeted for the dog, you thought about the price of the pet and the cost of food. Those extra necessary maintenance chores — such as nail clipping, bathing, and seasonal haircuts — you could do yourself, right? Wrong.
Most families will opt for convenience over savings and take their pet to a groomer. These seemingly harmless fees add up fast. PetSmart advertises nail clipping for $10, basic shampooing for $16, and grooming for $29 and up.
Next: The required puppy vaccinations are costly.
Yes, the pup is naturally cuddly and adorable, but those puppy dog eyes will do more than just break your heart at the vet’s office. They’ll also break your budget. A rabies vaccination is required in most states. Other preventatives such as heartworm, distemper, and bordetella, are highly recommended for the overall health of your dog. They can run about $100 for puppies.
Next: Other preventatives also will cost you.
13. Flea and tick treatments
Even after coughing up enough cash to fund the initial rounds of puppy vaccinations, yearly upkeep is still required for your dog’s overall health. Flea and tick medication can cost $200 to $500 every year, while the average cost of preventative heartworm medication for dogs is $5 to $15 per month. If you choose to skip heartworm medication in an effort to cut costs, expect to pay $400 to $1,000 just to treat it — if it doesn’t turn deadly.
Next: A common expense for pet owners living in the city
14. Dog walking
When you work long hours or live in the city, it can be difficult to give Spot the necessary exercise he requires. Money-hungry side hustlers have capitalized on this expensive, yet necessary cost: dog walking. Angie’s List advertises dog walkers charge $20 to $30 per 30-minute walk. So before settling on the shepherd as your next family pet, consider how much additional money it will require to keep them entertained during work hours.
Next: How much would you pay for a well-trained dog?
15. Dog training
The time required to truly train your dog correctly can take months. And after a long day at work, you’re likely willing to take the short cut and spend five minutes telling him to sit before moving onto other chores. But houses with small children or those who live in apartments need to invest in better training methods that go above and beyond simple preventative tactics.
When your low-key efforts fall short, you’ll likely hire a trainer to pick up the slack. Dog owners pay about $448 for training, according to Angie’s List. But depending on Fido’s stubbornness — and your commitment — you could be in it for even more money.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.