Friday, May 3, 2013

Annual Cost of Owning a Dog

Recently, a friend asked me a question about costs associated with owning a pet, specifically a dog.  I thought this was a great question, and something that more people needed to consider before adopting a pet of any kind. So here is my best breakdown of all the costs associated with owning a dog:

Annual costs for a dog: $2250 (or $188/month)- I find it easier to understand this number by breaking down the different costs associated with a dog to get a good/accurate answer:

Annual veterinary visit: $200 - the initial visit is going to be more, because you have to get the booster shots, spay or neuter surgery, deworming, etc, but as long as the dog is healthy, that's about what to expect.

1 year worth of flea/heartworm prevention: $350 - obviously will change depending on the products chosen and the weight of the dog, but that's what to be prepared for. **These should be purchased from your veterinarian.  OTC preventatives a) don't work, and b) can be toxic.  Remember, you get what you pay for.**

Annual food: $700 - Obviously this will also depend on the size of the dog and the type of food chosen.  A large bag of good quality food will average about $60/bag. **Remember, you are what you eat, and again, you get what you pay for.  I like to compare dog food to eating out - you could eat McDonalds every day for $1, or you could get a top cut sirloin at a fancy steakhouse for $50.  I tell people to stick in the Applebee's/Ruby Tuesday's range; quality food, but an affordable price.** 

Annual misc (toys, leashes, collars, bathing/grooming, beds, treats, crate, boarding etc): $400 - Initially obviously is going to be more to get all the equipment necessary for owning a dog, but that’s a good ballpark between $25-$35/month.

Annual emergency fund: $600 - I recommend setting aside between $30-$50/month for an emergency fund, starting when you get your pet. This is for “just in case” something happens where your pet is sick, needs hospitalization or emergency surgery. This is around the average monthly cost of pet insurance.  I prefer doing this over getting pet insurance because, with pet insurance, you are paying a company so if you end up not needing it, you never get that money back.  By doing this, if something happens (hopefully not in the first year or two) you are covered, and when the pet gets older and their medical costs go up (bloodwork, medicines etc), then you have backup funding. (BONUS, if nothing major happens, you then have a nice chunk of change to go on vacation).

Most people don't realize that pets do cost money, and sometimes, a lot of money.  Knowing what to expect and being prepared gives everyone the best chance at providing the best care possible throughout the life of their pet.