Getting a dog can be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Seeing your cute pet’s tail wag when you get home from a long day at work can be a heartwarming experience that makes the responsibilities of dog ownership worthwhile.
But don’t forget those responsibilities, including financial ones, when determining whether now is the right time to bring a dog into the mix. New owners can expect to pay $1,400-$2,000 in the first year of having a puppy, and $14,500 over their dog’s lifetime, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or ASPCA.
Here are some costs to consider, according to the ASPCA:
Don’t underestimate the cost of feeding your dog. Premium brand dry dog food for large dogs costs an average of $400 per year. Taking care to not overfeed your pet will lower the food cost a little and will also help prevent them from becoming overweight and having higher medical bills down the road.
Boarding and Walking Services
Unless you have a kind friend or neighbor that is willing to watch your dog for free when you go on vacation and is able to walk him/her while you’re at work, you may need to pay for pet sitters and dog walkers throughout your dog’s lifetime.
A 30-minute dog walk on Wag, a nationwide dog walking service, costs about $20. Boarding on Rover, a network of pet sitters, costs $25-$35 per night, up to $75 in some areas.
Puppies need a round of immunizations in their first year, and regular boosters every few years afterward. Vaccinations can cost about $100, though you may be able to get them for free (or a lot cheaper) at vaccination clinics offered at pet stores.
Going to the vet can be expensive, with recurring medical care costing anywhere from $210 annually for a small dog to $235 for a medium-sized dog and $260 for a large dog, according to the ASPCA. While emergency care expenses aren’t included in the ASPCA data, they can often cost pet owners upwards of thousands of dollars.
To prepare for emergencies, begin saving for this expense as soon as you’ve decided to get a dog, and buy pet health insurance as a way to defray the costs of expensive medical treatment that may be necessary along the way. Pet health insurance costs about $225 per year, with most plans reimbursing 80 percent of eligible expenses after the annual deductible is met.
A related medical cost is professional teeth cleaning, which costs $200-$300. While annual cleanings are generally recommended by vets, brushing your dog’s teeth at home with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste may help save some money in this area.