For the Love of Paws >> Budgets Are Ruff!
We can all expect to budget or save for some of those big expenses in our lives, such as purchasing a new car, putting a down payment on a home or even an extravagant wedding. But something we don’t always budget for is the cost of pet ownership. Picking out a pet to join your family is one of the most exciting moments for both adults and kids. You and the family have decided you want to add a new furry (or sometimes not so furry) addition to your family and you all hop in the car to dash to the nearest pet shop or animal shelter. Sometimes the excitement of purchasing a new furry friend out ways the logical budgeting side of our brain (I mean, the sight of puppy cuteness typically makes me lose brain function altogether).
But, in all seriousness pets need your undivided time, emotional connection, and financial support. Having a pet or pets isn’t cheap and when you have made the decision to purchase one, two, or even three you need to be sure that you have properly planned and budgeted for your pooch. Speaking as someone who owns a Daniff (Great Dane & Mastiff mix breed) I am going to go ahead and use purchasing a dog through out the rest of this blog, but in general the expense types associated with owning a pet are similar for most types (maybe not a goldfish though).
According to the American Kennel Club the lifetime costs for dog ownership are as follows:
- Small dog: $15,051 (average life expectancy of 15 years)
- Medium dog: $15,782 (average life expectancy of 13 years)
- Large dog: $14,480 (average life expectancy of 10 years)
The question you may be asking yourself is…
Where Is the Money Going?
Initial Cost: So, you have decided to purchase a dog or puppy! Super exciting! The cost of the initial sticker price on your new furry friend depends on the breed of dog you purchase and where you purchase from. A purebred dog can range between $500 – $2,000, where as a mix breed or rescue can range between $40 – $400. Purchasing a dog from an animal shelter can not only be less expensive but can also give a pooch a second chance with a new and loving family. If you are looking for a specific breed and decide buying from a reputable breeder is your route, then you are looking at a higher price point for the cost of your new pet.
Veterinary Care: Keeping your dog healthy and happy is an important part of dog ownership. Things like routine vet visits, wellness checkups, vaccines, dental care, etc. can cost anywhere from $700-$1500 a year depending on your dog and where you reside. Then the preventative medications to prevent heart-worms, fleas, ticks, etc. can cost between $100-$500 per year. This doesn’t include emergency vet visits, medications, or specialty needs. The truth is there are dog breeds who are more prone to certain health conditions and that can increase the cost of health care for your animal.
Dog Chow: Whether you are feeding your furry friend cheap kibbles or an all-natural gourmet chow, the cost of feeding your dog is something you shouldn’t take lightly. Costs for food can run anywhere from $120 – $900 per year and even more if you have a larger breed dog who needs more calories in the day. Another thing to keep in mind is some of those special breed dogs, like a Great Dane for instance, need to have a certain amount of nutrients in the food they are fed otherwise they experience health ramifications. So, for my family we spend $90 a month on specialized dog food created specifically for our dog Obi’s breed. That’s about 16 Starbucks raspberry & white chocolate lattes!
Treats & Toys: Let’s face it. Once we buy a pet, we love them, we spoil them, and we shower them with toys and treats every time we go shopping. At least I do! AKC estimates that a dog owner spends about $35-250 per year on toys and treats for their pooch.
Pet Sitters: If you are someone who enjoys vacations and traveling, be sure to keep the cost of pet boarding in mind. We hate leaving our pooch behind, but most people will need to leave their dogs behind at least once or twice a year. Typically, this will cost about $100 – 300 a year.
Beautifying Your Pooch: You want your canine looking like the top dog but, grooming isn’t necessary for all breeds. Depending on the breed and the maintenance their hair requires you can spend anywhere from $15 for a brush you can use at home to $1,400 a year for frequent professional grooming.
The Must Haves & Extras: I think some of the things that all pet owners must purchase would include leashes, collars, dog tags, a crate, house gate, fencing (either electric or permanent) food & water bowl, poop bags, you know >> the essentials. That typically would cost between $200 – $300. Extra things that you can invest in when you purchase a dog would be things like pet insurance, obedience classes, pooch outfits, etc. Expenses like dog obedience and training can cost anywhere from $40 to $2,500. It all depends on the type of training that you commit to, simple dog obedience would be less expensive than sending your dog for training to become a service dog or hunting buddy. Those more specialized training can be even more expensive than $2,500!
Of course, there are a few things that are difficult to budget for such as emergency vet visits, puppy or dog destruction to your personal property (it happens, trust me!), extensive health issues, etc. Just know that there are things that you just won’t be able to budget for when contemplating adding a dog to your family. And that’s ok, we just need to be aware that things come up with dogs, just like humans.
So, how can you budget for all of this?
Well, the first and most important thing you should do is research the type of dog you want to purchase. The size, breed, and place where you purchase the pooch can all contribute to the lifetime cost of the dog, so be sure that you do your research! Then after extensive studying sit down and do a budget of your current expenses to determine that you can in fact comfortably afford the responsibilities of being a pet owner. Be sure that the monthly cost is something that fits well within your budget and that the purchase won’t cause any financial hardship for your family and you. If it is something where you can’t afford to add to your budget; open a savings account. Save a little each week or month for a specific period and then take that money and buy your dream pet! I can even name your savings account “Dream Pet Fund” and help you open it!
In conclusion, owning a pet is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences. Having a furry pawed friend waiting for you at home and loving you unconditionally is something everyone dreams of. Just make sure that before you venture out and purchase your pooch, research the breed, check your budget, and know that not only will this be a financial commitment, but also an emotional one. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade purchasing Obi for the world, he has been expensive, destructive, and at times drives me crazy, but we love our pets >> they are a part of our family, they are like another child, just a furry one.