About a year into being married we almost got a dog. Mr. Moneyaire had his heart set on getting a Shiba Inu – it was even his phone’s background. I, however, did not want a pet. There were several reasons: first, Fido costs a fortune and they need lots of attention and care, and they’re messy. We were trying to build up our savings. We both worked full time and I was heading back to school to earn a masters. Plus, we wanted to travel. A dog, just didn’t seem to fit our lifestyle and goals.
Nonetheless, we went to a local pet store that had Shiba Inus and I was enamored. Mr. Moneyaire had to pull me away from the puppy store. We almost bought one. Luckily, we decided to take a night before making this decision. After sleeping on it, we realized we’d be poor pet parents. We worked most of the day, traveled frequently, lived in a small 1 bedroom condominium with very little outdoor space nearby. Plus, getting a pet now would throw us off our self imposed Era of Austerity and reduce our savings and investing goals. Taking a day to think about it to crunch numbers, saved us from spending thousands of dollars and hours on a pet that didn’t fit our life style. Aside from the lack of time we would have to dedicate to a pet, the costs ultimately made us reconsider.
Fido Costs a Fortune: Acquisition
Getting a dog can be an expensive endeavor. You can adopt a dog from a shelter or buy one from a pet store or breeder. You can adopt a dog from the shelter for free. Many shelters have events wherein adoption fees are waived. Otherwise, it can cost upwards of a few hundred or thousands of dollars.
We once met a breeder of Bull Mastiffs in Europe a few years after we got married. We were lucky enough to be seated with him and his wife for dinner every night as we sailed through the Mediterranean. He sold his puppies for $2,500 each and he boasted about how some of his wealthy clients would get two. Buying a puppy from a breeder or from a specialty store can cost you anywhere between $200 to over $3,000. The Shiba Inu we saw at the store was $800. That gave us a lot of pause – Fido was going to cost a fortune.
Breaking down the costs
The most cost effective and humane way to add a pet to your family is to visit your local animal shelter. Providing a loving safe warm home to a pup without one, especially at a lower cost (between $100 to $700), well that seems to be the best bargain out there. Plus, there are special adoption events throughout the year in which adoption fees are waived at our local shelters.
According to Rover.com this is a breakdown of the initial acquisition costs for a dog:
|Spay or neuter surgery||$320||$800|
|Initial vet exam and vaccinations||$320||$480|
|Collar or harness||$10||$150|
|Shampoo and brush||$10||$60|
|Stain and odor removers||$10||$30|
|Basic Vet Care||$100||$320|
Just getting a dog can cost over $1,000. Getting a dog is a big expense. If you’re planning on making this addition to your family, at a minimum, make sure you have a grand lined up for the acquisition.
Fido Costs a Fortune: Medical
Initial medical costs for a pet to spay/neuter, get required vaccinations and a health checkup, could cost anywhere between $800 to over $1,400. Yikes. After those costs, basic yearly medical can cost anywhere from $70 to $100 to get vaccination boosters, check for heartworms and an overall checkup.
You’ll probably need to go see the vet at least once a year for a routine wellness checkup. If your dog has health issues, and as your dog ages, you may need to go to the vet more often and for more extensive care. Plus, there are optional treatments like dental cleanings that can cost from $70 to $400 a year. Flea and tick medication can cost about $25 a month for a one month supply. Most vets recommend year round dosing. However, for the cost conscience the worst months for fleas and ticks is from about April through November so starting and stopping around those months may be all the preventative dosing needed.
Medical bills for pets can be hard to predict
If your dog ends up getting a disease or injured, those vet bills can shoot up into the thousands. We knew someone whose dog had gotten cancer and they paid $7,000 to treat their dog for it. Someone else we know started a side gig just to pay for their dog’s arthritis issues.
Because these medical bills can be so costly and they can be so unpredictable, getting pet insurance could be a great idea. Pet insurance can cost anywhere from about $40 – $100 a month depending on your dog’s breed according to MarketWatch.
Fido Costs a Fortune: Food
Feeding a pet can be surprisingly expensive. According to petfoodreviewer.com the costs for a month of dog food can vary from as little as $7.50 for a medium sized dog if you go with an ultra low cost brand to over $700 a month for a large breed dog eating a premium wet dog food brand. There’s quite a bit of room to play with. However, I personally would feel really guilty feeding my dog an ultra low cost dried food. It couldn’t possibly be the best tasting or nutrient rich. Plus, cheaping out on food will probably result in higher vet costs eventually. I suspect its the human version of eating ramen noodles – with all the nutritional deficits.
Fido Costs a Fortune: Doggie Day Care, Walkers, and Boarding
One of the costs we would most likely have paid would have been for boarding, doggie day care and/or a dog walker. Mr. Moneyaire and I both worked, and sometimes long hours. We also liked to travel. We probably would have signed our pup up for daycare so they would be entertained while we were at work all day and we probably would have shelled out for boarding or, in the least, a friend or neighbor to come over once or twice a day to let our pup out of the house, walk them and feed them.
Doggie day care can cost from $200 to $500 a month depending on the amount of time you need day care according to daysmartpet.com. Its surprising how expensive this service is, initially. When you take into account all of what must go into running a safe, clean, functioning and enriching environment for dogs, it starts making sense.
If you’re going on a trip, you may consider boarding your dog. Boarding a dog can cost from $20 to $50 a day. I used to work with a woman who would dog sit for families when they were on vacation and charge $50 a day. Her services included staying at a client’s home, making sure their pups were walked and properly fed. She’d let them out to relieve themselves and give them company. She’d still come into the office to work. It was a pretty sweet gig.
A lot of that price differential on boarding depends on the amenities/services provided and where the location of the kennel/boarding facility is. Most hotels, AirBnBs, and rentals don’t allow pets, and the ones that do, they charge a premium for it. Which brings me to…
Pet deposits and doggie wear and tear
Speaking of vacation rentals not allowing pets, if you’re renting, your landlord may not be keen with you having a dog or any pet. Pet deposits are often non-refundable and expensive. On average, pet deposits run from $200 to $500 according to the Guarantors.com. Landlords can also charge you more than this amount if there’s been extensive pet damage to the property.
If you’re a homeowner, you won’t have to pay a pet deposit, but depending on the breed of your dog you may have to pay extra in homeowners insurance and there’ll inevitably be extra wear and tear on your home from a pet. Potty accidents, shedding and scratches will be inevitable and will be an extra cost to repair and clean.
Fido Costs a Fortune; I haven’t even gotten to the fun stuff yet.
I haven’t even gotten to the toys and costumes and cute stuff for dogs yet. Perhaps that’s for the best.
Having a dog is a huge responsibility with really big costs associated. I think to be a good pet parent, its not possible to spend as little as possible and forgo the medical and enrichment opportunities a pet may need. A pet just doesn’t cost money but time – time needed for walks, trips to the vet, playing and training. Ultimately, Mr. Moneyaire and I decided that we wouldn’t be good pet parents – we’d be absent for the most part. Plus, we probably would have a hard time affording vet bills, daycare or boarding costs without taking away from other goals we had for ourselves.
Its expensive but just go into it budgeting for it to be
If you add up the lower end costs of having a dog I’ve outlined here, it’ll initially cost about $1,050 and minimum ongoing costs of about $500 a year (excluding boarding, walking and daycare costs). On the high end, you could easily spend $4,800 in the first year on a dog. in terms of maintenance costs, on average, pet parents spend about $111 a month or $1,332 a year on their pets. If you do end up needing specialty services, like grooming, dental care or day care like services, costs can go up quickly.
Getting a pet is a personal decision and we know a lot of people who LOVE their pets and consider them a family member. I’m not advocating people not get one; just go into it with eyes wide open that pets are an expensive long term financial and personal commitment. Make sure you always budget for surprise vet bills and take into account all the extras.