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What You Should Plan to Spend

Putting a price tag on your new friend.

Congratulations on thinking about adopting a dog.  Having a dog as part of the family can be rewarding.  But, have you made sure you are ready for the financial commitment that comes with your new friend.  I know, it is hard to think about the costs of raising a new puppy because it is healthy and young, right?  Besides, you don’t think about the costs of other friends before you build friendships, right?  While that is true, you must keep in mind that your dog is dependent on you for everything.  It may be nice to think Rufus will go out and get a job to help pay the bills, but it won’t be the case, no matter how cute he may be.  So, whether you get a purebred dog or one from a shelter, please consider the following one-time and annual costs as you weigh the decision to get a dog.

Adopting a Dog ($0 to $1,500)
At times, there are puppies up for adoption through news paper or Craig’s list ads or you may know someone who is giving away puppies and may offer you one for free.  Even if you don’t pay for the dog, you will incur costs associated with the round of shots and spaying/neutering, which are necessary for all puppies.

If you don’t get a dog through a friend or ad, you may get one from a breeder or a shelter.  Breeders sell purebred dogs, which will likely come with papers certifying their pedigree.  The cost to purchase a purebred dog ranges from $300 to $1,500 depending on the breed.  Adopting a dog from a shelter can cost from $200 to $400 (or more) depending on the age of the dog.  Often people wonder why there is a high cost adopting dogs from shelters.  This is because shelter dogs come with   their shots and have been spayed/neutered before being placed for adoption and the cost covers this care.  Additionally, the shelters house and care for the dogs before they are adopted out and the fees cover this as well.

Supplies ($150 to $300)

Before or on the same day you adopt your dog, you will need to buy it basic supplies such as food and water bowls, a dog bed, a crate (if you decide to crate train your dog), leash and collar and a few toys.  While many of these items seem inexpensive individually, (bowls don’t seem that pricey), they are expensive in the aggregate.

Food ($120 to $500 per annum)
A bag of dog food may not seem that expensive (for example, a 20 pound bag of a leading dog food brand is only $27), but depending on the size of your dog, the bag may not last that long.  Additionally, most of us are suckered into buying treats for our dogs as well, which can also add up.  The bigger the dog, the greater the cost per year.

Healthcare ($200 to $500 per annum)
The cost of healthcare depends on the age of the dog and whether it has any pre-existing medical conditions.  If a dog is young and has no medical issues, healthcare is usually about $200 per year, which includes the routine check-up.  As the dog gets older s/he may experience some health ailments or the vet may want to see him/her more frequently in order to ensure any issues are “caught” early.  At this point, the healthcare costs can increase at least double or more each year.  These costs assume the dog is healthy, if your dog has a chronic illness requiring regular medication or something very serious such as cancer, the vet bills can reach $1,000 or more.

In addition to the routine vet visits, it is possible for your friend to visit the vet due to necessary emergency care.  This can be due to something the dog ate (dogs have been known to eat leashes and other items and need surgery to remove them) or if the dog injures itself.  Depending on the problem and whether you need to take the dog to your regular vet or to an emergency vet, the costs can add up quick.

It is possible to defray some of these costs by purchasing pet health insurance.  It is best to get this insurance when he dog is young and before it has developed any medical problems.  Some insurance companies won’t insure dogs with health issues because they are pre-existing conditions.  Also, read the terms of the insurance and be sure to understand what it covers and what it does not.  Not all insurance policies cover all accidents!

Grooming ($0 to $300 per annum)
Not all dogs need to be groomed on a regular basis, but all dogs need their nails clipped.  Your vet can clip the dogs nails and if you wish to clip them yourself, your vet is a good person to talk to so you can learn the proper method for clipping.  Some dogs, such as poodles, must be groomed professionally on a regular basis.

Licensing ($10 to $20 per annum)
Most towns require dogs to have a license and may require a rabies license as well.  The rabies license, which proves the dog has been vaccinated, is received from the vet each time the dogs has its rabies shot.  The town license is renewed annually at a cost of approximately $10 depending on where you live.

Dog Walking/Boarding (Varies)

Unless someone in your house is home during the day or you can go home and give your dog a walk, it is necessary to hire a dog walker.  Dog walkers help by giving your dog a walk in the middle of the day.  This provides exercise and companionship for the dog. Many dog walkers look forward to these times and care for your dog almost as much as you do.  This can get expensive and dog walking has an average cost of approximately $400 per month.

There is also the cost of boarding a dog while you are away on vacation, assuming your dog does not go with you.  On average, kennels cost $25 to $50 per day for an average sized dog.  Rates can get higher if the dog is sent to a day care type facility rather than just an average kennel.

Training ($150 to $1,000)
Although many people purchase books to help them train their dogs, most find it easier and less frustrating to seek out the help of a professional. Group classes and private classes are available based on the needs of you and your dog.  Dogs with serious behavior problems will require more extensive training, which can cost upwards of $1,000, or more.

With all of the costs associated with dog , owning a dog may seem a little overwhelming.  If you think about it, the average cost of caring for a dog over twelve years is $4,600 to $33,000. However, it is rewarding to share your life and home with a dog.  It is just important to remember that you are financially responsible for the basics.