Mar 9, 2023
Time for the talk: 'Should I get a dog?’
We’ve all seen it. That classic movie scene, where the kid unwraps a big box on Christmas morning — and out jumps a cute puppy. Tears of joy stream down the child’s face, and all is right in the world. But what about when that dog demolishes an entire chocolate cake, and has to be rushed to the vet?
From unexpected expenses to everyday needs like food, the costs of having a furry friend can add up quickly. How much does a dog cost exactly? Keep reading for the full rundown on the costs and commitments of dog ownership, so you can make the best decision for your finances — and fam. Paws up to that. 🙌🏻
The cost of dog ownership: Initial expenses
When asking yourself, ‘Should I get a dog?’ start by considering the upfront costs of adding a pup to your family.
There are essentials like bowls and bedding, and the fun stuff, aka toys. But before you can cross those off your list, there’s the matter of figuring out how you’re going to get the dog — which will affect cost.
A good low-cost option is adoption through an animal shelter, such as the ASPCA, a non-profit aimed at preventing animal cruelty. Not only are you giving a neglected dog a new home, but adoption is much cheaper than buying from a local pet store or going through a breeder.
Just how much cheaper? Adopting from a local shelter averages $50 to $250 in fees. Compare that to the pet store, which could set you back close to $1,000. Breeders are even more expensive, with costs running between 💰 $2,000 and $4,000.
Pro tip: Sometimes, adoption fees are waived during special holidays or events — so take your time and do your research.
Adoption fees usually cover the following:
Spaying or neutering
Microchipping your pup
Dewormer for any internal parasites
Vaccinations for things like Rabies
Your first bag of dog food
While the shelter gives you a running start, you’ll still need to grab the remaining items on your list. Let’s take a look at those first-time dog expenses.*
Shampoo and brush
Stain and odor removers
Basic veterinary care
Tack on the adoption fees we talked about, and you’re looking at $260 to $2,570 in upfront costs to get a dog.*
The cost of dog ownership: Annual expenses
If you’re thinking, ‘Okay, but how much does a dog cost per year?’ we’ve got the breakdown on that, too. It can cost anywhere between $880 and $4,020 annually to care for a dog, depending on certain factors, including age and breed.*
Flea and tick prevention
Cost of dog food
Certain breeds need to eat more than others. Take the Border Collie, a high-energy breed, built for herding. They require more food than low-energy breeds like the French Bulldog, in order to power up those zoomies. ⚡
So, how much does dog food cost? Feeding your pup can cost anywhere from $210 to $2,340 per year, depending on the brand, and whether it’s kibbles, wet food, or a combination of both.
Cost of preventative care for dogs
Some breeds are more likely to develop dental issues, so you may or may not need to opt for annual teeth cleaning, which can cost between $400 and $550 per year. While dental cleaning is optional, all dog parents should do flea and tick prevention, priced by your dog’s weight.
Factoring in unexpected expenses
As many dog owners know, caring for one isn’t always a walk in the park. Sometimes just getting them to walk with you is difficult. That’s the time to bring in a professional, to help leash-train your pup. Whether virtual or in-person, dog training can run $40 to $250 per session.
Another unplanned expense to think about: Emergency vet visits. Hopefully, your furry friend doesn’t devour an entire chocolate cake, but things like that do happen. How much will a trip to the ER set you back? If you type ‘Average cost of vet visit for dog’ into Google, you’ll get results ranging from $150 to $1,200 for emergency vet visits.
As you can see, the costs of owning a dog can definitely add up. Read on for a few ways to cover these costs — and teach the kids about money management.
Ways to cover dog ownership costs
Looking for easy ways to make caring for your dog more affordable? Start with buying in bulk. From dog food to treats, buying in larger quantities will save you a few bucks. It’s also a good idea to join your pet store’s loyalty program, for doggy 🦴 discounts.
Yes, pet insurance comes with a price tag — between $200 to $300 a year, but it could save you thousands in vet visit costs, in the long run.
Pet emergency fund
Do you have an emergency fund for yourself? Fido could also use one, to help with unexpected vet costs. Try to set aside three to six months’ worth of dog ownership expenses. Keep your pet emergency fund in a dedicated account, separate from checking. That way, you won’t be tempted to spend it.
Get the kids involved
Pet parents agree: It’s easier when the whole family helps out. If your teens earn allowance or a paycheck, let them pitch in by purchasing some of the pet supplies. They can use the Greenlight card and app to earn up to 1% cash back to Savings on each purchase — while learning how to make smart money moves.*
Going beyond finances: Committing your time
Being a responsible dog owner isn’t just about making a budget; it’s about making the life-long commitment to take care of your pup. Some dogs live to be fifteen years old. Is your family prepared to take on such a big responsibility? Other factors to consider:
From filling bowls to scooping you-know-what, there are loads of dog-related chores your kids can do. With Greenlight, you can assign recurring chores, automate payouts, and more — right from the app. The best part: Your child can customize their Greenlight card with a pet photo. Say treats, Bud! 📸
Your schedule and living space
Do you work from home or go into the office? Keep in mind that someone needs to be available to let the dog out several times a day — rain or shine. Also, think about your living space. Some breeds need room to roam, while others are perfectly fine with a small plot of grass.
Feel like you’re barking up the wrong tree? Cats and bunnies make for low-maintenance pets that rank high in the cuddle department.
Next up: Teaching teens how to budget
Now that you know all that goes into caring for a man’s best friend, give your teens a leg-up on life with budgeting tips and tricks.
*Figures from Rover.com
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