Being the owner of a dog or any pet can be both the most rewarding purchase and life experience one could imagine. But the full implications of dog and puppy costs can also be one of the most poorly and misunderstood family purchases made in a lifetime. Would you be surprised to know that raising some dogs could cost close to $100,000 over a lifetime? Using realistic and reasonable assumptions and calculations, you’d be surprised to learn what bringing a puppy into your home now can cost you over a lifetime.
Far too often the only budget-related concern people have in relation to a dog is how much it costs initially. While several hundred dollars may seem like a lot to pay for a dog, that’s nothing compared with the continuing costs of responsible dog ownership.
Meet Jake. Jake is a beautiful friendly canine that is excellent with children, loves his human family to death and makes them laugh constantly. Jake in turn is loved like a child. But after returning from the vet having spent $200 without even bringing in Jake (the stop was for medicine and Frontline, etc.), it seemed it was time to reflect on the true cost of owning a dog, from purchase all the way through when Jake leaves us for happy dog land in the sky.
Dog Adoption vs. Purebred from a Breeder
It is a fair choice to buy a purebred dog from an AKC champ father knowing that the dog would be the best the breed had to offer. So, seek out a breeder (not a puppy mill!) with a pedigree line and great looking parents/puppies. And be prepared because it won’t be cheap figure around $800 but depending on other factors it could go much higher.
Now it’s not uncommon to get a rescue/adoption dog for free or less than $100 and often that includes some initial canine vaccines, etc. More so than ever thanks to a difficult economy, there are thousands of needy dogs and cats that would benefit from adoption so please consider that as an option as well. (In fact The PG has always pointed out many canines and felines residing in shelters are in fact pedigrees!)
Puppy Costs Early On
Right off the bat, there were several purchases which are not cheap. You’ll need things like:
- dog bed
- water/food bowl
- a crate to potty train him
- dog gates for the house
- puppy food
- puppy toys
- early vet visits and so on.
- All in all, estimate $500.
Puppy Costs First Year
Aside from just getting Jake acclimated to a house and family maybe even another pet, there are several expenses during his first year such as:
- neutering/spaying cost, $200
- repairs to walls and cabinets from chewing– could be any range, but assume at least $200, (if you are lucky!) in damages from your dog early on. While some things just can’t be replaced, it’s inevitable that your puppy will either destroy a wall or property of a friend or a neighbor that you are responsible for.
- dog training cost– a must and just for some basic training, you’ll spent a few hundred dollars, $300.
Routine Dog Costs
Ongoing medication on an annual basis:
- Heartgard: A 12 pack (1 years supply) is $70.
- Frontline: A average year’s supply is $150, less for smaller dogs.
- Cosequin: Jake takes this twice a day to reduce the likelihood of hip/joint problems later in life and it is pretty expensive at about $400 a year.
- Pet-sitting cost: For a minimalist approach, if you assume 1 pet-sitter visit per day for each working day at $12 per visit (this can vary dramatically depending on your location), and assume 250 work days per year, that’s $3000. Doggy day-care will likely run more.
- Vacation: who’s going to watch the dog? While Jake goes on some family vacations, other times it is off to the kennel. There one can expect to pay between $25 and $45 per night. So, 2 vacations per year for a week each at $35 per night, that’s roughly $490.
- Food: Jake eats a lot and has a bit of a sensitive stomach meaning a higher quality feed with better ingredients than what you get in some of the generic brands, so expect to pay about $40 per bag for a 40 pound bag and that lasts probably a month, $480.
- Gifts, Holidays and other silly stuff: because Jake’s part of the family, of course, earns him the occasional dog treats, toys, dog ice cream treats in the summer, etc. Probably $200 per year.
- Dog Vaccination Costs and Vet Visits: These costs easily amount to $500 per year. In Jake’s case, probably more given other strange maladies that seemed to pop of over the years. Let’s conservatively assume $500 for now.
- Dog grooming costs and more: a routine grooming arrangement that, could include nails to cut and anal glands to drain plus assume a one time skunking of your dog (if he’s a quick learner) and it can add up. Conservatively, perhaps $250 per year.
One-Time Dog Costs
Unexpected Vet/Medical Procedure Bill: We’ve all faced it as a pet owner at least once in a dog’s life, it’s likely that you’ll have to shell out a bundle on a series of emergency exams and treatments totaling around $1000.
End of Life Dog Costs
No different than humans, a large portion of all health care expenditures will occur in the final months of life. If you choose to prolong your dog’s life by fighting cancer, anemia or whatever other canine malady may exist, there will likely be some hefty vet bills toward the end. Plan on at least $500.
When your beloved friend is reaching the end you’ll want to do the humane thing and put him to sleep. You may also want to have the remains cremated. This will likely run a few hundred dollars, $400.
Total Dog Costs Analyzed
With the assumptions listed here and based on the Jake, experience from puppy to the end, all in all it is easy to see how that $100,000 dollar figure can be achieved. And what if about five not one emergency room visit or a hit by car episode which requires surgery, rehab, medicines or day care instead of pet-sitting… it all can add up pretty quick.
It simply isn’t fair to a dog to bring it into a home only to send it to a shelter, or worse have it euthanized, simply because the owner didn’t take the expense of dog ownership into account. Never make a spontaneous decision to get a dog, especially if you have a tight budget. With a little planning and common sense, a dog can be a lifetime investment with priceless returns. But one look at Jake while he’s sleeping on the floor and it is obvious, he’s worth every penny!