How much do dogs cost?
Last month we had to rush my dog to the vet. Well actually it was my wife who took him to the vet … I’m a huge wimp when it comes to blood and doctors and stuff.
Anyway, Cooper had ripped off one of his dew claws at the dog park. He was born with a few extra toes on his back feet, and they’ve never really been a problem until now. Not sure how he got hurt, I just noticed him limping and bleeding when we got home :( Poor little bugger!
After two hours at the vet, Cooper came home with a bandaged leg, and my wife handed me a $186 vet bill. Yay.
I know $186 might seem a bit excessive for a simple bandage and some antibiotics, but honestly I’d probably pay 10x that amount to take the pain away. Cooper is our one and only fur-child.
Dogs Are Expensive!
Not sure if you other pet owner / personal finance nerds do this, but I keep a tally of how much my dog has cost us over the years. Cooper has his own line items in our annual budget for food, boarding, and vet bills. (He’s pretty good about sticking to his budget, but sometimes he goes over and I have to punish him. ;) Just kidding!)
We got Cooper in January 2013, so he’s about 7 ½ years old. So he’s actually 52 years old in dog years, making him officially the oldest (and wisest) member of our household.
Year 1 upfront dog expenses:
- Purchase price/adoption fee: $0 (Coops was a shelter dog)
- Shots, vaccinations, etc. as a new puppy: $300
- : $0 (that’s why we got a German Shepherd! – they are smart and easy to train at home – for free)
- Getting his balls cut out: $484 (he had a small problem during surgery when getting neutered so it was a little more expensive than usual for his procedure)
- Dog food: $37 per month, we get the Costco brand stuff. He’s been alive for 90 months, so that’s $3,330 in dog food total. Wow!
- Flea Pills: $19 per month x 90 months, so $1,710
- Shots: $100 per year, about $700 total since we’ve had him. Rabies, bordetella, and some of this is annual exam costs.
- Boarding kennel: $5,884. Works out to be about ~130 x nights in dog boarding facilities over the past 7 years. (If you travel a lot, don’t become a dog owner!)
- House damage: $300. Cooper has smashed our front window three times trying to bite the mailman.
- Biting the mailman: $400. One time Cooper actually got the mailman! Long story, but we basically had to bribe the mailman with $400 in cash to stop a small-claims lawsuit.
- Random veterinary care: $859 (A leg thing, ear infection, weird eye mites, and an elbow bulge he had once that worried us)
- Treats, toys, and bling-bling for his collar: $0. We don’t really spoil our puppy at all.
There are a few other expenses like a dog bed here and there, maybe some towels and stuff, but I haven’t recorded those costs accurately. We also have no grooming costs because we bathe him at home and clean the dog’s teeth ourselves. And we haven’t paid for a dog walker in the last seven years!
Lifetime cost (so far in his life): $13,967!
Dang! That’s a big number. is expensive! (And we don’t give Cooper the gold treatment that most dog lovers do.) Pets are luxury accessories, that’s for sure — especially if you got a pedigree dog from a breeder/puppy mill or are paying for doggy daycare, a pet sitter, lots of grooming needs, etc!
Is Pet Insurance Worth It?
When Coops was a pup, my wife and I did a quick search for how much pet insurance would cost. From memory, we got quoted somewhere around $300 a year for a basic coverage plan. (Just did a quick search — looks like the national average for the German Shepherd breed is $34.32 per month).
Ultimately, we decided against getting pet insurance for a few reasons:
- We have enough money to cover an emergency if something comes up.
- We didn’t really feel like insurance would help us sleep any better at night.
- Since Cooper is a mix-, we weren’t too worried about that is a genetic trait of purebred GSDs.
- Honestly, the cost alone was a big factor. We were willing to risk that having no insurance would end up being cheaper in the long run (it has been so far).
If we did purchase insurance, we could have saved maybe the $859 for his random vet visits … But it would have cost us an extra $3,068 ($34 monthly x 90 months) in insurance premiums.
Looks like no pet insurance has worked out better financially so far for us. And knock on wood it stays this way for the rest of his life!
Is Dog Ownership Worth the Cost? :)
I must say that I am 100% OK with how expensive Cooper is. It’s a shocking figure when it’s all totaled up — there’s soooo much I could do with an extra $14,000 right now!
But, here’s why I’m OK with how expensive pet ownership is:
- I like spending money on things that make me happy in life. Cooper provides unlimited happiness to our house and extended friends and family.
- Just like the reports say, dogs improve your fitness and your social life. My wife and I have connected with most of our neighbors because our dogs like to play together.
- Coops is an excellent guard dog (well, most of the time … He was snoozing when my car got broken into the other day). I pity the person who tries to actually break into our house with Cooper on guard.
- Since my wife and I don’t have kids yet, a dog gives us something to care for together. And to give us companionship when the other person is away (Cooper is an excellent drinking buddy when my wife is not home).
- Just look at his face!
Do you keep track of your pet expenses? If so, how much does your dog cost (or cat!)? Guessing your mileage will vary based on dog breed and size … is a large dog like a Bernese mountain dog more expensive than a smaller dog like a beagle mutt? Let’s compare notes.
Joel is a 35 y/o Aussie living in Los Angeles and the guy behind 5amjoel.com. He loves waking up early, finding ways to be more efficient with time and money, and sharing what he learns with others. Rise Early | Retire Early!