According to an APPA National Pet Owners Survey 60.2 million households have a dog. They can be great companions and even improve their owner’s health. Buying a dog can be as inexpensive as fifty dollars or run as much as thousands. It is not just the initial purchase fees of buying a dog where there are charges and most people underestimate the cost of a dog over its lifetime.
Purchasing a dog is a long-term commitment and it is not uncommon for people to buy a dog only to realize that it is not quite what they imagined. This realization is regularly seen during the Holidays when dogs are given as family pet presents. The animal shelters have a tendency to be a little more crowded a few months after the Holiday season, unfortunately.
It can be tough to argue the costs involved with owning a dog or any pet for that matter. Owning a pet can really be priceless. But it is important to be prepared for the costs involved to ensure a happy and long life.
What Does it Cost Annually to have a Dog?
The annual cost for a dog is dependent on its size. An annual cost of $1001 for a small dog, $1214 for a medium size, and $1448 for a large dog is the average amount according to the ASPCA. I truly believe this average cost is much higher with the lifetime cost of owning a dog equaling between $27,000 to $47,000.
The ASPCA survey reported dog owner annual expenses to be broken down with an average of:
- $257 Routine Veterinarian Visits
- $235 Food
- $72 Dog Treats
- $84 Grooming
- $47 Dog Toys
Again, the costs broken down seem to be a little low in my opinion. It will be dependent on the size of a dog, but the variance can be big.
Costs can vary greatly with a dog depending on the care and how much someone may spoil their pooch. There are also many differences among dog breeds that may require more or less expensive care. Add this to a dog that develops allergies or health issues and it can get expensive quickly.
Some of the Expenses with Owning a Dog
The routine expenses broken down for food, vet visits and things like grooming are a given. Most people that get a dog are aware of these costs. However, there is a number of further expenditures that often do not come to mind.
- Collateral damage is almost a certainty with being a dog owner. This can be especially the case with having a puppy. Shoes, clothes, and furniture are just a few of the very real possibilities. It can take a while to train a dog and sometimes it may work but they can revert back to the destructive behavior. In the case of my dog, he knows he should not do certain things and most of the time he is well behaved. However, when he craves attention and he is not getting it, something may be up for the choice to be the victim of destruction.
- The unknown damage that can occur has endless possibilities. If the dog gets on the furniture or has an accident on the carpet, they may never be the same.
Increased Living Expenses
- The guarantee of some type of damage is a real possibility of owning a dog. For this reason, a landlord will often charge a large security deposit from a renter that has a dog if they allow it. The cost can be $350 dollars or more in addition to a non-refundable fee. Realistically, the security deposit has a good chance of not being refundable either. There may also be an extra monthly charge added to the rent.
- There is the possibility that a home insurance policy will go up. This can be dependent on the dog breed and additional factors, but it does happen. This adds some insurance in the event of a dog bite or some other type of accident involving the family pet.
- Travel expenses for a dog are one factor I see that not many people consider. If you need to go out of town or want to leave on vacation, someone needs to take care of your dog. It could be a family member or friend for free. Yet, it may also have a cost with a house sitter or boarding.
- There are places that will allow a person to take their companion with them. Some hotels allow dogs for an added fee so this is an option with a cost.
- Pets can be a lot like people. As they get older care can become more expensive. An older dog could develop chronic issues with age that may cost much more than originally planned.
- A puppy that is brought into the home could also look and test completely healthy only to find out it has a condition, such as an allergy, that may require extra medication in addition to regular flea and tick control.
- Unexpected emergency vet bills in addition to routine vet visits also need to be considered. An emergency at the veterinarian could quickly reach a cost of $2000-$5000. Dogs by nature like to get into things they shouldn’t. They are very curious. Having only paws their mouth is their way to grab things and test them out. Eating a sock or pieces of a toy can be costly if they do not come out.
- There is pet insurance that can be purchased. However, it can be costly and will likely not cover every thing that can come up.
- Everyone should already have an emergency fund. But this is particularly important with having a dog. It is irresponsible to be a dog owner without one. In addition to having living expenses saved, there should be some money set aside for the dog.
The Benefits of Having a Dog
There are some real costs to having a dog and it is a long-term commitment. Even with the costs, there are some unquestionable benefits that are honestly priceless.
- A value on companionship with a dog is, in all honesty, the best. They don’t care much about anything except unconditional love. If you have a bad day, they will be there to cheer you up. They don’t care who you know or what you do. They are always there happy to see you.
- Dogs can make their owner healthy. I can personally claim this has significance. Following my dog coming home to the family it was not long before I lost 10 pounds. With playing and walking a dog they get you moving. The American Heart Association has also stated that 54% of dog owners are much more likely to get the recommended exercise.
- Someone that has a dog is also less likely to be depressed, stressed, or lonely. The National Alliance on Mental Illness stated that people with dogs tend to have lower blood pressure and less likely to end up with heart disease. Playing with dogs is shown to increase oxytocin and dopamine levels. The result of a dog owner is a much more positive outlook on things.
- Being a dog owner starts conversations and can benefit socialization. Take the dog to a park or out in public and other dog lovers are sure to strike up a conversation. They may want to pet your dog and talk a little.
My family and I take our dog many places that we go and it never fails. Someone will always want to pet him and chat. They often had a similar dog or sometimes are on vacation and miss their own.
- There is a purpose in having a dog each day. This can provide a real sense of self-worth and it provides a definite cause to get up each day. It really isn’t even a choice to roll out of bed each morning. Trust me, the dog will make you get up. This can lead to a more productive day.
Consider Dog Cost
Even with my own frugal state of mind, I have a dog. He has become another child for my wife and I. The dog is also a little brother for my daughter. He has become a part of the family.
If you are currently in the decision process of the choice to be a dog owner, I highly recommend it. Although, it is important to plan for the commitment and costs. Owning a dog is a long-term obligation that is not negotiable. A dog owner must consider the costs and plan for them in order to be responsible.
Having large amounts of debt is not the time to go out and get a puppy. It may relieve stress and create happiness, but it is not a fair decision. It will only be a selfish one with the dog being the recipient of the consequences. I see so many dog owners that either are not responsible enough to have one or not in a position they should. Getting a dog and having to turn it into the shelter or give it to someone else is not an option. This can not only be hard on the owner, but it is also not easy on the dog.
I highly recommend becoming a dog owner if you can. If you are currently not in a position to do so, set it as a goal. It will be one that you really want to reach and in the meantime be a dog sitter or walker. It might even earn some extra money to get to the doggy destination.