In preparation for this blog, I curiously searched Google for “How much does it cost to have a dog?” This was the FIRST HIT in my results:
Holy PANCAKES!!! I hit the “feedback” button so hard that I think I broke my laptop.
That number is WRONG, friends. Dead wrong.
Even if you used a rope for leash, an old comforter for a bed, and your grandfather’s advice for your dog training, you won’t whittle it down to $1,000.
Having a dog is expensive. You can spend tens of thousands a year, if you aren’t careful. And even if you are into budget shopping, you’re still looking at around $10,000 per year.
Let’s break it down a little further. The prices here are based on the middle of the road costs. This is what it will cost for reasonable, but not luxurious, products and services.
Food/treats - $1250 annually.
Bigger dogs eat more (which costs more, of course).
Little dogs eat less.
Organic? Raw diet? Want your dog to be vegan(Yes, I had a client once who was doing that. Yes, I think it is a terrible idea)? All of those cost more.
Vet - $700-$1000 annually.
This estimate is based on two wellness visits a year. Or (for example) one visit and one episode of kennel cough, that turns out to require antibiotics. Expect a little more in the first year (Neutering, vaccinations), and expect a lot more if your dog develops a serious health problem.
Dog Walker - $5200 annually. (less relevant in the country or suburbia)
This is for an average dog walker doing one walk midday, five days a week. If you live in NYC, you need a good dog walker. We all have to go to work sometimes. Good dog walkers charge between $20 and $30 per one hour walk. If you have a high energy dog (like a lab or dalmation), you might need more than this.
Overnight Care (when traveling) - $1200 annually.
This is one that most people don’t think of ahead of time. When you travel, you need someone to watch your dog. A decent overnight care option (either in home or in a day care)in NYC is $70 to $100 per day. The number above is for two weeks per year.
Grooming - $1664 (groomer) or $200 (self groom) annually.
I have heard more than one person vent to my husband (who owns a human hair salon) that it costs more to get their DOG’s haircut than their own.
Um…yes. Yes it does.
It is a lot harder to do a dog’s hair than it is to do yours. Also, humans are significantly less likely to turn and bite the stylist during the cut.
If you have a short-haired dog (like my coonhound mix), you might be game for grooming him yourself. That is a significant savings.
Pet Insurance - $240 annually.
This is a good idea if you don’t have a lot in your savings. I’ve seen people get hit pretty hard with health care issues.
Training - $350 annual average.
If you own a dog, you should learn to train him. One class a year or a couple of private sessions will do you a world of good in preventing behavior problems and bonding with your dog. This is based on a behaviorally well-adjusted dog. Treatment and training for serious behavior problems can run into the thousands of dollars.
Miscellaneous Supplies - $1000 annually.
Leashes, collars, beds, sprays, toys, coats, paw wax, blankets, towels, boots, harnesses, hotel fees, rental car fees, the rug you had to replace at your friends house after your dog chewed it up.
So how much does it really cost?
$10,000 is about what I spend each year and I don’t spoil my kid (overmuch). Yes, I call my dog my kid.
$20,000 is not atypical.
In a pinch, you could forego pet insurance, some training (but not all), a dog walker (ask your friends and neighbors for help), overnight care (same), the groomer (do it yourself), and you could get a lot of the stuff by scouring the internet for free stuff. That might reduce the number by half. You cannot skimp on food, exercise, and vet care though. Those are essential.
Oh, and in case I didn’t mention it….