Expert Blog Compelling advice, stories, and thought-provoking perspectives straight from YourTango's lineup of Experts to you

The Cost Of Pet Ownership: Can You Afford A Dog?


So you bought a puppy to start 2016 with a lovable companion, but did you think about the cost?

So you bought a cute puppy and want to start 2016 with a lovable companion. The idea of playing fetch with him or her, going on dog walks and spending quality time together is all you can think about. This sounds great but many dog owners get stuck in this dream and don’t think through the financial costs of their prospective pooch.

Once you rescue or purchase your dog, what are the initial costs associated with pet ownership?

According to Dr. Taylor Truitt of The Vet Set and Petsmile, “this actually comes down to whether you live in a large urban market or other parts of the country.” Spaying or neutering is roughly $200, depending on the size of your dog, medical exams run you $70, “while on average pet registration can cost anywhere from $9 to $50 depending on the area you live in, not including annual renewal fees. The price of registration is also dependent on the size and breed of your dog.”

Tonya Wilhelm of GlobalDogTraining.Com, who was voted one of the top 10 trainers in the U.S. has been a full-time dog behavior specialist for almost 20 years. She notes that puppies, defined as dogs aged 8 weeks-5 months, should attend at least three group training classes, spanning 6-10 months, in order to develop into a well-behaved dog. Attending these sessions also, “helps ensure the pet parents develop a lifelong bond with their puppy, and the puppy is well-trained and most importantly can help prevent behavioral problems and anxiety which can lead to surrendering the pet or euthanasia,” says Wilhelm. And in terms of actual costs, Wilhelm says group classes range from $100-150 each

On top of just the sessions, owners must be aware of the training equipment needed for their puppy to succeed. This equipment, training leash, harness, treats, toys, chew toys, etc. will easily costs owners $300 or more.

And there there are those stubborn puppies. If a dog has behavioral problems, or the family needs more customized training, Wilhelm states that, “private instructional lessons range from $500-$1500 for a handful of training lessons.”

So in 2015, 1-800-PetMeds, the largest pet pharmacy in the U.S, put together an infographic (link here) dressing the overall costs, and specifically medical costs, of having a dog. According to their research, the average yearly cost to have a dog is $1,649 (including vet visits, food, toys, grooming, etc.).

The infographic breaks down the pricing and includes some medical conditions that will make costs skyrocket. Veterinary bills ($852) account for over half of the total annual expenses, but the average costs don’t show everything. For example, the average cost for Hip Dysplasia (which is fairly common in large breed dogs) is $2,000. Other surgeries and cancer treatments can reach or exceed $10,000 as just radiation therapy will range from approximately $2000 to $6000 depending on the type of radiation therapy and the region of the country according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation.

So how can pet owners avoid such high bills. One answer, pet insurance.

Many pet owners don’t know that by purchasing pet insurance they can save 45% - from $1,649 to $967 - on annual dog expenses. So when it comes to choosing the correct pet insurance Pet Insurance U, the web's No. 1 resource for pet insurance, provides the solution.

Pet Insurance U makes shopping for pet insurance easy. Read reviews of popular pet insurance plans, compare the options and then find the best coverage for your pet. But pet insurance isn't for everyone, and there's no magic formula that will tell you if it's right for you and your pet. If you're considering pet insurance, The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that you talk to your veterinarian and do some research on your options.

But for some, the actual costs of owning a pet is priceless.

Dr. Judy Morgan is an author, speaker, and holistic veterinarian who currently has 9 dogs, 4 cats, and 6 horses. Morgan has spent thousands of dollars on vet bills - from ACL surgeries ($2,500 per dog) eye removal ($2,500) - and around $400 per dog per year in supplements. She also mentions that sick dogs require medications that can cost $100 per month or more, but to her, “the cost of owning pets? A small fortune. The joy I receive in return - priceless.”

By: Jarone Ashkenazi


Explore YourTango