We brought our dog, Cooper, into our home ten years ago. He was just one in a litter of puppies a friend of a friend was giving away. We offered her $20 but she wouldn’t accept it. Now I understand why; She knew how much it costs to have a dog!
If you are contemplating getting a dog for the family then be prepared to increase your annual budget by at least $1,200. That may sound expensive at first but it’s actually on the low end of owning a pooch.
Here is a breakdown using our dog Cooper as an example:
When Cooper was three, he started having allergic reactions to most processed foods. We found a brand of dog food that worked that just happened to be the most expensive food. This increased our grocery bill from $200 to $500 a year.
The total does not include treats or the occasional canned food for special days (his birthday or Christmas). I estimate those costs to be $70 a year.
Of course, you probably won’t have a dog with special dietary needs like ours so you can cut the food cost down tremendously by feeding it table food. Just be careful not to get it hooked on steak and grilled salmon.
Making a dog healthy and legal
Every region is different but I’m fairly certain all municipalities require dogs to be licensed. I couldn’t tell you what we spent to license Cooper but it was a one-time fee, maybe $20.00.
If you get a puppy you may also be required to get it spayed or neutered. That’s another $135 to $200
Keeping our dog legal with all the required immunizations is another story altogether. We spent over $150 for rabies and other shots last year alone.
While we’re at it, let’s talk medical expenses: Heart worm pills are $35 for a six month supply. Cooper had a hairline fracture in his back paw last year; add another $160 in doctor visits and medicines.
Emergencies are expensive for both man and his best friend.
To ensure there weren’t little “surprises” left around the house we purchased a doggie pen (cage). You may be able to find them on CraigsList for $25 or a new one could set you back $100.
Then there is obedience training: $165 for 2 months of classes and a doggie-diploma. Unless you are Caesar Millan the Dog Whisperer you’ll need a dog collar and leash. We found the best one was a $17 harness that didn’t choke our pooch when he became overly excited while walking around the block.
As a side note: The obedience classes were very effective except for the releasing of a toy when playing fetch (he’d rather play “catch me if you can”). Other than that, he’s a good boy!
Pee-You! Cooper – you stink!
Nothing gets by my wife’s olfactory senses. If Cooper has been outside too long, or rolled around in something he shouldn’t have, we all hear about it. This increases our budget by about $20 a month for either doggie shampoo or a wash at the groomer’s.
Curbing your dog is a requirement in our city. Old produce bags that once carried peaches or plums are now used for Cooper’s road apples. Designer poop-bags cost $7 on Amazon will last 120 “deposits” and a pooper-scooper is $15 at PetCo.
Of course you could hire a service to pick up your dog’s droppings. Yes, they do exist (check out Yuckos.com)
Send him to the kennel or take him with you
Included in our vacation budget is Cooper’s trip to the spa (that’s what I call the kennel). On average we will spend $225 each time we leave him behind.
Instead of sending Cooper to the spa we could hire a dog sitter. Having someone feed and play with your canine in their environment is a great idea – for you and the person hired to take care of Spot. I’m not sure what that cost would be because we haven’t tried it, but I imagine a neighbor kid would love to be your go-to guy or gal if they were offered a small sum of money to play with your dog!
However, you can save tons of money by bringing you dog with you. There are animal friendly hotels that don’t cost more than a Holiday Inn Express, although you’ll notice the rooms don’t look the same as the HIE. Triavago.com has recently been advertising this as a feature of their hotel booking service.
One of the family
We increase our grocery and medical budget to include normal monthly expenses for Cooper – because he is part of our family. Our Christmas budget is increased a few months before December to include a couple things in his stocking (yes, he gets one too).
Overall, our dog costs us $1,225 a year but brings an unmeasurable amount of happiness when he greets us at the door and when he runs around the backyard with a stick in his mouth. (You should see him run through the leaf piles in the Fall).
While some of our expenses are driven by Cooper’s medical needs, others will spend far more money on a 4-legged member of the family. Larger dogs will be more expensive to feed while purebred pooches cost an arm and a leg to acquire. Ironically, pocket dogs are 10-20% the size of an average house dog but cost much, much more in annual expenses as they are often pampered (because they are irresistibly cute!)
How well you treat your dog is a matter of preference. It doesn’t matter how much you choose to spend on your dog so long as you represent it somewhere in your budget.