Tips & advice on getting your finances back on track.
The statistics surrounding animals in shelters is heartbreaking. The two main reasons animals find themselves in shelters is that owners relinquish them, or they are found on the street as strays. A third of all animals in shelters are relinquished by their owners. One of the reasons for this voluntary surrender is that the cost of keeping their pet is too high.
Relinquishing a pet is heartbreaking for all, including the animal. It’s just like losing a member of the family and 30% of these animals are euthanized. Ensuring that you have the funds to take care of a pet is the initial step in making sure your beloved dog or cat doesn’t end up in the local shelter. Work these figures into your budget, so you can have a realistic idea of whether you can afford to get a pet this holiday season.
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The first year of pet ownership can be the most expensive. It’s not just the purchase price for that puppy you’ve been adoring, but a host of other costs that can really start to add up. Let’s see what it might cost to bring a new puppy into your home. Let’s start with the basics.
Purchase/adoption fees: The purchase price or adoption fees depend on whether you are looking at a pure bread puppy or perhaps a rescue. There are usually plenty of puppies available at your local shelter, if you’re not set on a particular breed. Adoption fees can be as much as $600, usually much more for purchasing from a breeder.
Neutering/Spay: You want to avoid having to look after and pay for a whole litter of costly, even if incredibly cute, puppies. There are really enough dogs that need good homes without contributing to their numbers. Getting your dog neutered or spayed will cost you around $500.
Training: Manners are important if we are to live in a civilized society. Teaching your dog to be a part of your family and not a tyrannical ruler takes time and, if you need some professional help, it takes money too. There are plenty of ‘puppy schools’ offering 6 week courses that will train you to train your dog. A basic training program can set you back around $350.
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Immunizations/vet checkups: There are a series of immunizations to get when a dog is a puppy and then annual rabies shots and checkups. You can expect to spend around $200 in the first year.
Food/ treats: Cost of food will vary depending on the size of your dog (and whether they have allergies or other special food requirements). For average sized bags of mid-priced food you can expect to pay $200 per year.
Ongoing medication (flea/heartworm): This ongoing cost will keep your pooch in good health (and reduce your vet bills). Normally these come in packs that will last 6 months and can cost approximately $75 for the year.
Dog walkers: If you need to have your dog walked while you’re at work or out for the day, the going rate for that is around $15 for a 30 minute walk. Let’s assume this is an occasional need of only once a month, perhaps costing you $180.
Dog sitting The average rate for an overnight stay at a reputable dog sitter is $45/night. This can add a considerable cost to your vacation; a week at this rate is $315.
Registration: Most townships require you to register your dog. It’s usually a minimal fee. In my town it’s only $12 annually for a dog that is spayed or neutered and has an up-to-date rabies certificate. It’s a small charge, but you can be fined $20 for noncompliance.
Extras: These can include crates, collars, leashes, poop bags, chew toys, food bowls, potty pads, and odor remover (there will be accidents). Most of these will be purchased in the first year of owning your new best friend and can run you up to $250, and they will need to be replaced from time to time.
Grooming: Keeping your dog’s coat in tip top shape will set you back an average of $60 for a standard grooming session. This will depend on the type of dog you have and what their coat is like. Maybe you have a short haired pup that will fit in your kitchen sink for a quick shampoo but, if not, grooming every 2 months could set you back $360 for the year.
Occasional illness/injury: This one is hard to budget for (which is why you need an emergency fund). Chances are you will have a few unscheduled vet visits during the life of your dog. An emergency visit can set you back a few hundred dollars, particularly if it is outside of regular business hours. Make sure your emergency fund is kept topped up so you can focus on your dog and not the cost of the treatment.
If you already have a pet and feel like you are in over your head with the costs, consider a credit counseling session with one of our certified credit counselors. We can help get you back on the right financial track.
So, where does this leave you financially for the first year of owning a new puppy?
The grand total is just over $3,000 in one year. If you’re considering a new addition to your family, be sure to do ALL of the math to see if it’s the right time for you financially.
Lori Stratford is the Digital Media Manager at Navicore Solutions. She promotes the reach of Navicore’s financial education to the public through social media and blog content.