How much does your dog cost?

Approximately - per month or year.
See, I’m considering a dog. I’d go to the pound to get it. I know what the pet deposit is at my apartment, and that’s the only up front cost I’d have as far as where I live.

But I want to see if I think I can afford to actually have one. I know costs probably vary from breed to breed and from dog to dog, but surely all the wonderful animal loving Dopers can help me out.

I don’t know what breed I’d be getting. Most likely a mutt/mixed breed…but I don’t know what a vet visit should cost, how much it takes to feed them or anything. Sure, I could go to the store, look at the costs of dog food and maybe get an idea from that - but that’s not like real life experience with pets.

Help me out folks?

You can get dog food REALLY cheap. My dog will eat anything I feed her. I usually buy the store brand “puppy chow” (she likes that the best), and I think it runs about $6 which lasts about a month.

She also eats the stuff that I eat. I usually give her the left overs that I know I wouldn’t eat, anyway. As long as it’s not something that will make her ill, I give it to her.

I really can’t see that my dog costs much at all!

Even my vet bills are very cheap. It’s usually about $15 for a check up, and I think it’s going to be about $60 to get her fixed. We have a good vet.

And I just thought I would add that I totally recomend getting a “mutt”. I LOVE mine! She’s such a sweet dog. A very nice companion! I don’t think you need to pay extra for a dog with papers!!!

I really, really want a dog so just a few weeks ago was researching this very question. I found many tables showing different numbers. It all came to a screeching halt for us when we found a wonderful dog who had been found running loose on the freeway the day before. Rico and I fell head over heals in love with her and I was ready to bring her home the day we met her. The screeching halt was brought about by our landlord who seems to likes cats but I think he has something against dogs! He informed us we have enough. We came with 2 of our own, have since acquired one of his strays as another house cat but we still feed 7 of his outdoor strays he had acquired while he lived her and it became our responsibility to take care of them when we rented the house.

Sorry! I’m still bitter!!!

Back to your question…

First Year (Puppies) / Each Succeeding Year

Food $400 / $400
Distemper/Parvo Inocs $60 / $15 (1yr booster)
Rabies Inoculation $20 (1 yr.) / $5 (3yr booster)
Worming $25 / $10 (worm check)
Spaying or neutering* $55 N/A
Heartworm test/preventative $50 / $50
Licensing $10 / $10
Accessories (leash/collar/toys) $100 / $75
Emergency Vet care $250 / $250
TOTAL $970 / $815

Cost of Owning a Dog

I googled “cost of owning a dog” and got 39,000 hits.

When Rico and I were calculating the cost to bring Heidi (9 month old German Shepard who had already had her shots and been fixed), going by the prices listed on the Petco site plus the $150 “donation” (apparently they don’t charge you) to the place she was being housed until a home could be found for her ~ it came to just under $300.

I’ll be looking for a thread introducing your new addition to the family :stuck_out_tongue:

we just got 2 puppies and found this great deal at PetsMart. They have a Banfield Pet Hospital (vet) in our PetsMart, with a few yearly deals. The one we chose was $100 up front, then $20/month. That includes all boosters, getting them fixed, discounts on other medicines, and free dr. visits…good deal if you ask me.
I am picky about what I feed my dogs, so we get a 17 lb. bag for about $20. Goes fast with our pups, but worth in IMHO.

Depends entirely on the size, age, health, and tendencies of the dog, as well as where you live.

Our dog is a 40# lab mix, around 3 or so, and in good health. She goes through a 50# bag of dog chow about every 3 months or so. I believe those bags are around $15 at Wallie World, so that’s about $60 a year for kibble. She also gets biscuits and rawhides once in a while, to the tune of maybe $20 a year. These expenses can go up fast if you have a larger dog, or one who needs special food. (A lot of prescription food is a buck a can.)

Dolly’s not prone to ear infections, bladder infections, joint or skin problems, or impacted anal glands or worms. This means she only has vet visits for routine vaccines and testing and accidents. At the clinic where I used to work, a yearly checkup with vaccines and heartworm test was $105, plus $30-60 for a year of heartworm prevention. We were in a high-parvo area, too, so we reccommended parvo boosters at the six-month mark, too, at $20. Routine care: $165 a year for a 40# dog (without flea prevention).

She also got stung or bitten a couple of times by something venomous, and on another occasion got into my seizure medication. Exam fees were $30 a visit (rechecks for the same problem are less), plus antibiotics, steroids, and inducing vomiting. All that would add up to about a $100-$120 a year for Dolly but can really get high for some pets.

Then we have various dog accoutrements that are hard to calculate on a per-year basis. Leashes, collars, bowls, brushes, shampoo, a kennel, that sort of thing. These costs vary wildly by what exactly you buy and how often you have to replace it. For Dolly, I’ve had to replace a few bowls (we finally just switched to stainless steel), a couple of collars she sawed through (long story), and a leash. Total start-up and replacement costs on that stuff so far: ~ $100 over a year and a half, but $60 of it was for a crate.

Then we have toys, which are indispensible. Again, costs vary wildly with what you get and how rough the dog is on her stuff (and how many toys you buy). Remember, a bored dog is often a destructive dog, which will cost you more in the long run that a well-stocked toy box.

Then we run into replacing things the pet has chewed up or peed on, which can be minimized with crate training and lots of toys. This expense is totally dependent on the individual animal.

You’ll go through a lot more vaccuum bags and other cleaning supplies, and there’s the extra time and energy devoted to walks, playtime, poopscooping, brushing, bathing, going to the vet, etc.

Oh, and there’s the adoption fee at the shelter, which usually includes spay/neuter and at least initial shots.

You really should be careful when it comes to cheap dog food. Many contain chemicals which can be harmful to your dog’s health. This site says:

Look for foods which use vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and vitamin E (tocopherol) as preservatives instead.

Another danger in pet food is
phenobarbital. (The link goes to the FDA report.) This chemical is used to put animals “to sleep.” The carcasses are then rendered into pet food. Over time, the chemical can build up in your pet’s system, leading to a host of health problems. God forbid you would ever have to put your pet down, but if you did, the traces of phenobarbital already present in your pet’s system could cause it to suffer.

Another vote against cheap dog food. Spend a little more and get them something that is good for them.

We have had ZOE THE WONDER HOUND (she’s a basset/beagle mix, mostly basset) for almost a year now, and I’d here’s how our expenses have broken down:

$100 fee to the rescue organization from wherer we got her. (included spaying)
$120 to get hear shots and heartworm test/yearly exam
$25 for a 40lb bag of food, lasts about 6-8 weeks. Say ~$175 for the year.
$60/year for heartworm medicine
$100/year for treats
~$250 for all her goodies…her bed, toys, shampoo, dinner/water bowls, floormat for these bowls, leash, collar, tag, harness, bones, etc, etc, etc.
So in a year, We’ve spent ~$900. You may say to yourself…hey, that math doesn’t work. Well, you’d be right. Hopefully, you won’t learn the hard way that your dog can get on the kitchen counter. Also hopefully you won’t have to deal with the crazy worry (and $200) of having to get your dog’s stomach pumped because she ate 1/2 a bottle of aspirin. (insert some smiley that is 97% scared and 3% “dumb fuckin’ dog…why would she eat aspirin?”)
Oh, also throw in about 9 bucks for the 2 pounds of thawing chicken and loaf of bread she ate that one time when she got on the kitchen counter again. :rolleyes:
It is so very worth it, though. LOVE my dog. :slight_smile:

I feed my dogs Pedigree Mealtime kibble. At one point I asked my vet (when my dog was an only-dog and I could afford it) if I should switch to a premium dogfood like Science Diet or Eukanuba. The vet said, “Look at your dog. Her coat is shiny, her eyes are brights and she’s muscular and at just the right weight. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

As far as yearly expenses, most of those above look about right, although my spay was a good bit more expensive. It gets expensive when you start getting pets for your pets (“Oh, poor Fluffly shouldn’t be alone…maybe we need a second dog…”) I’m thinking of getting a fourth dog. Last weekend there was a labradoodle (lab/standard poodle cross) at the PetSmart adoption Saturday. The owner is terminally and can’t care for the dog. If he’s still up for adoption this weekend, I may well add him to the family.


a little hijack about vet bills and surgery and cost when things go wrong

my dogs last hospital bill was $4000 which was in january, his canine cushions disease will cost I dont know yet because he has to go in for tests but the surgeon says its managed by medication, because his last operation had a high risk of coming undone, he needs another surgery which they estimate to be around a minimum of $1500. his regular vet visit is $50. His heart medication is 100 bucks, his metacalm for arthritis was 100 I believe. He cannot eat cheap dog food for medical reasons oh and he needs metamucil for life. so his monthly maintanence is slightly higher than others…

I guess what Im trying to say is that dogs/cats are fairly cheap until something goes wrong then it gets very expensive… I guess thats what credit is for. He has had close to $10,000 in surgery bills over the years, but this years was either do it or put him down and if he didnt get it he would have died that day… and I couldnt do that but he needed emergency surgery… he brings more joy in my life than i guess I skip alot of things based on my dogs needs… my only regret was not to get pet insurance for him when he was a puppy before his first operation.

But they say he is a trooper and he has gone through 2 surgeries this year and survived despite his age and they are confident that he has a few more years to live. And having a dog is the best thing in world. I dont know how good pet insurance is, but i guess you pay into it hoping you will never need it, like car insurance i guess… but thats my only recommendation wrt the cost of dogs. sorry for rambling… I guess because I am in pet hospitals alot this year I see the dogs that need cancer treatments or emerg surgery I see the other side… not the monthly checkup… but the other stuff.

Leechboy and I really wanted a dog but couldn’t afford one. After some research we decided to foster a customs puppy (customs dept. sniffer/detector dog in training). The customs dept. pay for all his food, shots etc we just have to provide a loving home, excercise and toys.

The downside is that after 12 months he goes back to the customs dept. to start work. The upside is when he goes back we could apply for another puppy and for 12 months we have a loving puppy around the house for almost nix. :slight_smile:

I’ve found that we are not as attached to him as we thought we would be. Mostly this is because we both constantly remind ourselves he’s not ‘our’ dog. Also once a month he goes back to customs for training so he’s not always around.

Guide Dogs for the Blind also run a similar foster puppy program.

The bigger the dog, the bigger the vet bills, especially with drugs because they dose by weight. And big dogs have big health problems as a general rule. Our dogs are prone to ear infections if their ears aren’t cleaned properly, they have dry skin and one has allergies, and one has massive hip dysplasia (we are not having surgery- did it with another dog, 4 surgeries later the dog is still messed up).

We have Newfoundlands who run about 150 lbs each (dogs are bigger than bitches generally). We get food at Costco, otherwise it’s about $35 for a 30 lb bag.

Our dogs are double-coated, so we go through shampoo & conditioner really quickly.

Dog toys don’t last long, nor do rawhides, so if we want 'em, we buy a lot of them.

Grooming costs are higher for bigger dogs. A professional bathing and grooming for a Newf will run well over $100 (no, I don’t pay someone else to do it!).

Oh, of course, being a purebred, a male puppy ran us about $1500, a bitch is more because of her breeding capabilities.

Jeez, this looks pretty bad all typed out… :smiley:

Dogs don’t come with a monthly payment, they come with a balloon payment.

For the first several years of their life, they are pretty cheap. As they age, the vet bills can be staggering. If you feel like in 10 years you’ll be able to handle a couple of thousand in vet bills, go for it. Otherwise, a dog probably isn’t for you.


I strongly suggest you do not give your dog rawhide chews. There is a risk of choking, and many dogs have gotten undigested pieces lodged in their stomachs and colons, requiring surgery.

Well . . . a pure-bred dog is another thing I don’t suggest. Some breeds are severely inbred, and prone to genetic problems, such as hip displasia. Some pure-bred dogs come from places commonly called “puppy mills” where the bitches exist only to breed and are kept in deplorable conditions. If you must get a pure-bred dog, I would insist on seeing the mother’s papers, and tracing her geneology to make sure she’s not being bred with a close relative, or inbred herself, and to go to her home to check on her general health and also to see the conditions in which she’s kept.

There are countless lovable, adorable mutts in pounds, who probably are not long for this earth unless adopted. You can also adopt from a no-kill shelter, places which space is in short supply.

Tell me about it. Tarquin (our foster puppy) is a pure bred labrador and his toys usually last a day max.

Another thing to think about is your garden - do you have enough room for the dog to run around in? Also how precious is your garden too you? Thylacine once told me ‘you can have a garden or you can have a dog’. I’ve found this to be reasonably true.

Tarquin whilst usually a very good dog has this thing for roses and last week ate the rosebush in our back yard (thorns and all). Despite several scratches on his nose from the thorns he wasn’t detered from trying to eat the rose’s in the front garden when he got out there.

He’s resisted the fruit trees and our vegie patch out the back so far but I just know one day soon I’m going to come home to find that he’s sampled the tomato’s/apples/oranges.

Still he’s great fun and I’d much rather have a happy puppy than a fancy garden.

Don’t worry Lissa, we buy our dogs from a reputable breeder, they are fully papered and AKC registered and we have access to the parents, grandparents, etc.

I understand the problems inherent in many breeds. Again, using a reputable breeder can go a long way towards solving some problems. We have found that Newfoundlands have every characteristic that we want and only a couple that we don’t (the hip problems are bad, and the drooling can be worse!), so we continue to raise and love them.

Obviously, YMMV with any breed.

PS- interesting info about the undigested rawhides. Angus does scarf them down pretty quickly, so it’s not hard to imagine a few undigested chunks. Luckily nothing’s shown up on an x-ray (so far).

Dog toy life span? Depends. If it has a sqeaker inside it, less than an hour.

Rawhide life span? He will eat a full-size retriever roll (6-8 inches, I think) in one sitting if we let him. Poops are not good when he’s been eating rawhide. Very messy.

My rawhide warning? Never get the kind with knots! Especially with big dogs who have strong jaws, they can rip the knot off whole and choke on it.

This site claims they contain posions.

This site says:

The FDA warns about pig ears and other pork-based treats being infected with salmonella bacteria.

Real bones also pose a danger.

That tally’s with what we’ve been told by the customs dept. for Tarquin. Only give him 1/4 of a marrow bone once per week. Keep an eye on him whilst he’s got it and TAKE IT AWAY after 12 hours so no bacteria has a chance to grow.

Nobody seems to have mentioned pooper scooping - the bigger the dog the bigger the poop. Whilst it doesn’t cost you $$'s it does cost time. We are required to clean up after Tarquin daily and it can be a pain finding the time but at least it keeps the smell away (especially in summer).

I’m going to second what cherry said. The costs of owning a healthy pet is one thing; the costs of owning an unhealthy pet is quite something different. In my experience, they all start out healthy (young and all), but 5-10 years later, when you’re REALLY attached to them and something goes wrong, health care can skyrocket.

I’ve paid $2-3K to keep a cat alive for a year or so. Vet appointments and overnights, medication that ran $100/month, and prescription food are all expensive. Worth it? Yes. But you do need to think about this when you get a pet - although you can estimate the healthy costs, don’t forget to factor in at least one year of Big Vet Bills, whether it’s because your pet got hit by a car, got into some rat poison, or developed kidney or hip problems. In my experience, this kind of stuff can and does happen; it’s not an isolated incidence.

Thank’s y’all.
Looking at the upfront expenses with the shelter here, apartment pet deposit and the like, I’ve realized that I shouldn’t get one at this point in time.

If I get the job I interviewed for, that’s another story (although that brings time into the factor…I’ll have classes all day Tuesday and work every evening…).
I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with a dog within the next year, and I’m looking forward too it. I just want to make sure that I’m the best person for a dog, and that I’m able to take care of it the way it deserves to be taken care of. :slight_smile: