If you want to own a dog, it’s a huge financial and emotional commitment. You don’t get a dog and, in a week’s time, return him to the shelter. Buying your new pet is just the first step in your pet ownership story.
This guide covers various expenses that you’ll probably encounter at some stage in your pet’s life. It also explains how to care for your puppy, how to plan ahead for potential expenses and methods for decreasing the financial burden you feel when purchasing your new pet.
Your new puppy is a lifetime financial commitment.
The expenses that are required when you bring that cute little puppy home fall into two categories:
- You have the initial costs including the purchase price, training and vaccinations, etc.
- Then you face the ongoing costs that include: food, bowls for food and water, all bedding and a place to sleep, vet visits for everything from minor issues to major life-threatening problems and much more.
If you add up everything in both categories, it will enable you to roughly calculate how much money your little ball of fur will cost you from now until death do you part.
Even if you ignore the biggest expense of fencing in your backyard, other needs such as: vaccines, food, training, toys, heartworm prevention can all add up to more than $700 on their own. Add in food ($340 pa), teeth care (($140-$380 p.a.) and grooming ($60 for each visit), you end up with a bill more than $1000 per year, excluding health problems that may occur at any time.
Buying/adopting your puppy.
The purchase or adoption price is the first cost you need to pay. Buying a dog from a breeder can be hard. The fee can vary according to how much demand there is for that breed.
You’ll find that breeders who are reputable will offer competitive (yet fair) prices for their pets while backyard breeders generally charge a higher price so they can make a decent profit. Avoid buying from such breeders because they don’t treat their animals with the respect and care that they deserve
It’s unwise to buy a pet from a backyard breeder because everything they do is focused on making money and NOT caring for whatever animals they have at any time. Backyard breeders have a nasty habit of getting their puppies from puppy mills and various other places that are highly unethical.
There are plenty of genuine resources you can access to learn the differences between good quality breeders and those who do the bare minimum for their animals. Legitimate breeders fully understand their breeds and will readily give you contact info for satisfied customers. The unscrupulous backyard breeders try to sell their dogs to anybody with money.
“Adoption fees” is an umbrella term for costs associated with finally being able to bring your new puppy home. The majority of rescue homes and shelters will ensure the dogs are microchipped, and provide heartworm care and all other health-related care that’s necessary. Sometimes they will neuter or spay the dogs. These fees can be more than $800 but most shelters don’t ask for that much and $500 is a more realistic amount; remember each puppy or dog is an individual, so costs will vary.
The overall cost of being a dog owner.
Different animals vary but dogs do incur a great deal of expense so unless you’re willing to pay for everything he needs, then don’t buy a dog in the first place. Dogs need to be brushed each day or a few times a week…and this depends on the type of dog and his coat. If he’s highly energetic and gets dirty all the time, this will be a more time-consuming chore. The extra energy may mean more injuries as well so professional training can help reduce these incidents.
Generally speaking, owning a cat is cheaper than a dog. Consider your current lifestyle before making your final decision.
Adopting a dog living in a shelter.
If you adopt a dog living in a legal shelter, you’ll know he has been looked after, and this includes vaccinations for typical dog issues such as: distemper, parvo and kennel cough. Any other urgent medical needs will also be sorted out. The adoption fee you pay generally covers most of these expenses including transport, food and the medical care provided.
Lots of kind people adopt from shelters because the majority of dogs have come from puppy mills or have been abandoned. The adoption process is great because it gives the dog a second chance of living a high quality life.
Adoption costs anywhere from $50 for a mixed breed dog to $500 for a purebred dog. Despite the fees appearing to be high, the money covers expenses incurred by caring for the dog you adopt so you directly benefit in the long term. The money you pay is often nowhere near the amount spent to look after your dog while he’s in the shelter.
Buying from a pet shop.
People who want to get a pet for the first time generally go to a pet shop, despite many warnings not to do so. Most shops, especially the small ones, buy their dogs from breeders who have lots of dogs and puppies. These breeders have one clear focus: making as much money as possible instead of actually caring for the dogs they have.
Dogs in pet shops are often in a higher risk category for many health problems than the dogs you can get from shelters or registered show breeders. The unscrupulous high-volume breeders generally confine their dogs to small cages, sometimes for years, only letting them out for short periods of exercise each day. This is done so the genders are kept separate until they’re needed for mating.
The Best Friends Animal Society is dedicated to ensuring dogs are treated properly, regardless of where they are. They outline the way puppy mills and pet stores work and how new owners can fight back where needed. Buying a dog from a pet shop can cost you over $1000, but the fact you pay good money doesn’t mean you get a dog that has been properly cared for. Pet shops don’t desex dogs or treat any health problems.
Buying a dog from a breeder.
The best way to get a dog is to go through a legitimate, licensed breeder, especially if you’re after a particular breed. Breeders that are licensed regularly inspect their facilities to ensure dogs are cared for as best as possible in all situations. They’re highly ethical from the start, and this never falters.
If you want a purebred, a breeder is the ideal person to buy from. If you’re keen to compete in shows, you’ll probably have to get papers and a dog from a breeder so you can register with the AKC.
Buying a dog from a breeder generally means he doesn’t have bad traits anymore. Health problems are minimal as he has been cared for properly. There has been a lot of selective breeding so your dog will have traits such as: loyalty, obedience, friendliness and so on. It’s important to understand that if you buy a dog from a breeder, you’ll likely spend more than $2000 but it’s worth it in the long run.
DOGS AND MEDICAL CARE.
The medical expenses are the most costly part of owning a puppy and even simple issues can be costly at times, leaving you with big bills. Before you buy a puppy, you need to understand various medical issues. He’ll need numerous medical tasks attended to. Here are some of the common issues:
Within the first year of life, puppies must have vaccines and some must be repeated at certain intervals. The list includes: rabies, parvovirus, distemper, Lyme disease, hepatitis, kennel cough, coronavirus, leptospirosis, heartworms and parainfluenza.
Each vaccination will cost $60-$120 and rabies is $35-$100.
Getting rid of fleas is essential for your dog and for you as well. If your dog has fleas, he’s quite miserable and the tiny things can carry numerous hazardous diseases. There are a few ways to treat fleas. The overall yearly cost isn’t high. A shampoo is approx $40. A pill costs approx $150 and the most popular one is an insecticide that can be as much as $200 per year.
Heartworms are responsible for killing a large number of dogs every year; this fact is sad because most of those dogs could have been saved. Heartworm is one of the most serious health aspects of owning any dog. They’re hard to treat but easy to prevent. Prevention medication costs approx $30 each month, whereas the cost of treatment begins at $800.
Ear and dental care.
Dogs have big ears and they’re sensitive, partly due to the way they’re structured. The majority of problems aren’t serious, but they can sometimes be painful or even severely painful.
Your dog’s teeth needs care and treatment in much the same way that you do, for the same reasons. They can get a buildup of tartar and plaque and that can weaken the enamel, cause gum disease and other problems as well. The cost of caring for his teeth and ears is approx $40 combined BUT if he needs particular dental treatments, you could end up spending in excess of $1000.
Some consider grooming as a luxury, not essential, and that only show dogs should be groomed. However, all dogs need grooming because it ensures they’re both comfortable and clean. It’s also a method for detecting health problems earlier so they can be treated quickly to avoid major issues happening when they’re older.
Grooming may be easy or difficult to afford and that largely depends on your new dog’s breed. Long-haired varieties need a lot more grooming than breeds with short hair. However, if you can do the grooming yourself, you’ll save lots of money. If you brush your dog’s hair each day and trim his nails when necessary, could save $50 per month.
Essential equipment for dogs.
There’s only a small list of essentials your dog needs: a leash, bowls for water and food, and a crate or something else your dog can call “home.” You could regard everything else as luxuries. If you need to make changes such as fencing off your front and back yards, this can cost over $1000.
Bowls, a leash and toys are generally cheap as well. If you need a crate, the size of your dog will determine how big it should be, and you could spend $250 or more.
If you buy a dog from a shelter, he’ll most likely have been desexed. If you have to cover the cost yourself, know that it will cost approx $200 and is well worth it.
Your dog’s nails need trimming regularly but it’s a very delicate procedure. If you cut too short, an injury may occur and your dog will feel pain and bleed in the sore spot.
Nobody wants to deliberately harm their dog. The good news is that it only costs approx $10 to have them trimmed professionally or, if you know exactly how to do it, you can save money. Ask somebody in the house to assist you by holding your dog’s paw and petting him to calm him.
Costs of bathing.
Unless your dog loves to be washed, you’ll know how hard it is to catch your dog if he runs around the house, dripping wet and possibly still covered in soap so he may slip out of your arms. If you pay somebody to bathe him and trim his nails and coat,
the cost will vary from $30-$90 and is well worth it because the professional will have a good set up, making his job easier. Trimming his coat stops any mats forming and bathing keeps him clean and healthy, while stopping him from stinking up your home.
Medical costs that affect specific breeds.
Some dog breeds are prone to specific health troubles moreso than others. One example is bulldogs and pugs, as well as other flat-nosed dogs, where they have ongoing respiratory problems and snore rather loudly (and is actually a breathing problem). German Shepherds are notorious for hip dysplasia and eczema.
A handy rule is that any dog that has been bred to look in a particular style will have health problems. For example, the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel often has injuries to the brain because the skull has been bred so it’s almost too small for the dog’s brain. English Bulldogs have skin issues and joint troubles.
FEEDING YOUR DOG.
Many people joke that teenagers can eat their parents out of house and home. However, if you own a large dog, he may always be hungry and will eat everything you give him and still want more. Most types of dog food are okay but it’s wise to do the necessary research before buying him any food. Then select the healthiest food options, despite the price tag.
An article that appeared in 2010 in the New York Times discusses various food types that are low and high quality and the discovery that the initial five ingredients existed in all food types. The reason is that all dog foods have satisfy essential guidelines prior to any sales happening.
The principal difference between premium and non-premium foods is that normal food has more meat, poultry and grains, and filler from byproducts of fish. It certainly doesn’t allow you to relax your responsibilities when it comes to using good quality food
Over the years, lots of dog foods have been recalled (seven in 2017 alone), due to low quality products. One serious example bought from a pet shop was recalled due to pieces of metal in the food.
Normal dog food is often also known as “nutrition food.” One serve of pellets must have all nutrients a dog needs to remain healthy, mentally and physically, as long as the dog is on a healthy diet.
Premium food also has the same nutritional requirements, but they comes from a different source. Some labels claim to have no synthetic chemicals and is completely natural. Normal food will cost you approx $120 each year and a premium food diet may cost you as much as $500. Dogs with health problems may need particular diets so that can increase overall costs.
You have two choices when it comes to training: pay a professional to do it or do it yourself. If this isn’t your first dog, you’ll probably feel comfortable training him yourself providing he’s not a hard breed to train. If this IS your first dog, it’s probably best to pay a trained professional because you won’t have to tolerate bad behavior and other issues down the track. These may include legal costs if he bites someone.
The cost of private training.
In a one-on-one session, a trainer can help correct negative behaviors or any other problems. A one hour cost can be $30 – $100 and, again, it’s cheaper if you have a puppy.
Costs of group training.
You can train your dog alongside other dogs and gain a few benefits. He’ll learn how to listen and the socialization aspect will really help him. The cost of group training sessions is $40 – $125 or higher. It’s cheaper if you have a puppy to train.
Costs of premium training.
This is where your puppy is sent to boarding school for 2-4 weeks and get hours of individual training each day. It’s the best type of training, especially if your puppy or dog is difficult to handle. However, the cost can be $950 to $2000 and more, depending on how long he stays at the school because each dog progresses differently.
Other optional expenses.
No matter how well you plan, life can throw you curveballs. You may travel for work and can‘t take your dog along with you. You may be forced to work later than usual for a few nights in a row. It’s during these times when your dog needs extra help. Hiring a dog walker will help him eliminate excess energy. A 30 minute walk may cost you $22. If you need to place him in a boarding kennel so he gets the care you can’t provide temporarily, it may cost $25-$45 each night.