We’ve given them the title of Man’s Best Friend because they protect us and love us unconditionally; and in return, we treat them like family. If you’ve ever owned a dog, you know how much fun and rewarding they can be, but you also know they come with a price…literally. Whether you already have a dog, or are contemplating adding one to your family, here are some of the expenses involved with dog ownership and some ways to cut those costs.
If you have your heart set on a purebred dog, expect to pay a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the breed. Consider getting your dog from a reputable breeder rather than a pet shop. Of course, there’s no guarantee, but breeders tend to provide better care and therefore have healthier animals; and that means lower veterinary bills for you. Better yet, save money and save a life by forgoing a purebred. Take a trip over to your local animal shelter, where you can probably find your new best friend in exchange for a donation of under $100. Or, peruse your local classifieds or craigslist; you may end up scoring a “free to good home” offer that comes complete with some food and supplies.
Expect to pay $150 to $400 annually, just for routine health care. Sick visits and emergency treatment could cost hundreds or even thousands more. Disregarding or delaying proper care will only lead to more costly vet bills later on, so this is not something on which you should skimp. Save money by taking advantage of vaccine, microchip, heartworm prevention, and spay/neuter clinics offered by pet stores and shelters. In fact, most shelters will not allow you to take a dog home unless it is neutered. They often provide the service free of charge. And ask your vet about appropriate home remedies and preventative measures for your particular type of dog.
Expect to pay $20 to $150 monthly for dog food and treats. Larger dogs cost more to feed than smaller dogs, but they are more likely to eat dry food, which is less expensive than moist and canned food. Specialty and organic foods are the most costly. Save money by buying in bulk and using coupons. Also, many grocery stores and pet supply supermarkets offer incentives and savings programs.
ACCESSORIES & TOYS
Expect to pay $20 to $150 per year for toys for your playmate. There is an unlimited supply of toys and accessories which you can buy, but the truth is, most of it we buy because we think it’s cute. My dog’s favorite play item was a stick that he retrieved after I threw it. And his favorite place to sleep was an old blanket which was easily washed. All you really need is a leash and a collar. Save money by recycling household items and checking craigslist for freebies.
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If you go out of town and can’t take your dog with you, expect to pay $15 to $35 per night for boarding. Larger dogs cost more money because they take up more space and require more food. Walks and bathing will add even more to your bill. You can save money by hiring a pet sitter or neighborhood teenager to visit your home daily while you are away. Better yet, stay in a pet friendly hotel and bring your dog with you. Although some of these charge a fee for bringing Fido along, so make sure you call ahead first and find out.
If you want your pet to look like he just walked off the floor of the Westminster Dog Show, expect to pay $50 to $1400 annually for grooming. Larger dogs cost more than smaller dogs, and long-haired dogs cost significantly more than short-haired dogs. Some breeds require professional grooming, but with most, you can save money by doing the bathing and nail clipping yourself. Hair ribbons are optional!
Depending on where you live you may have to license your dog and pay a registration fee of up to $75 a year. And in some places, larger dogs are more expensive. Save money by taking advantage of discounts offered for spayed/neutered dogs.
In addition to the obvious expenses already mentioned, keep in mind you may have additional expenses related to replacing items your dog has chewed up, obedience training, ill health (especially as the dog reaches maturity), fencing your yard, or higher security deposits if you rent.
Still, we wouldn’t let any of these costs dissuade you from owning a dog and making him or her a member of your family. After all, there’s at least one expense you’ll never run across with a dog—college tuition!