Author Topic: how much does a dog cost?  (Read 22613 times)

scrubbyfish

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how much does a dog cost?
« on: December 03, 2014, 06:20:31 PM »
I know that in some minds we're not supposed to have kids or pets or a car until we're FIRE. But...

My finances and budget are in good shape.
My kid is in good shape.
I have time and space to walk a dog lots.
I've done LOTS of travelling and have had no craving to do any for at least the last 16 years.
I have harboured a dream of a dog for several years.
I haven't allowed myself a pet in about 20 years (costs, grief over previous pets, suites not allowing pets).

I would like to get a dog -not today, but possibly within the next year.
I would get it from the SPCA, and probably one older than a puppy.
I would probably get something the size of a Lab (i.e., more dog food) but fluffy.
I'm a fan of pets being happy, healthy, clean, and well-trained and would put in whatever time, money, energy it took to achieve those, which is precisely why I have to be very mindful of the costs of excellent care.

As a very preliminary step toward my dog dream, I ask: What does your dog really cost? And: Are some dogs cheaper than others, not just in food but in health care per breed, etc?

Siobhan

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2014, 06:35:22 PM »
It depends on the dog, I have one super fluffy mutt that has cost me pretty much a new to me nice car in 6 years (and is ready to go into the vet again tomorrow for another thousand dollar bill probably), and I have another that costs me her routine shots in vet bills every year and that's it.  The smallest of the two is 75 lbs.  Dog food runs me 50 a month for the two (taste of the wild, mess dog has corn allergies), heartworm another 10-20ish and flea stuff in the summer months the same.  Dog boarding is expensive but doesn't sound like you will need it.

Eric

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2014, 06:39:31 PM »
Get a mutt.  Seriously.  Purebreds, while great, have approximately 1000% more health problems than mixed breeds.  Also, smaller dogs are cheaper than bigger dogs.  They have fewer issues with hips and legs as they age and of course eat less.  Dogs with a lot of wrinkles have a higher likelihood of infections.  Long-haired dogs need more grooming and require more clean up (although this may not directly cost more money).

You can price out food, dishes, leashes, collars/harnesses, bedding, crates, and preventative heartworm and flea medications online and ask a vet office about vaccination costs.


RunHappy

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2014, 06:41:08 PM »
It depends on the pet (age, breed, etc).  Vet bills are not cheap.  Shots are manageable, but if something happens and the animal needs surgery then it can be several thousands of dollars.  As the dog gets older expect to spend more money on vet bills, especially when they reach their senior years (generally ages 7-9).

This link gives a rough estimate:  https://www.petfinder.com/pet-adoption/dog-adoption/annual-dog-care-costs/


diesel15

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2014, 06:42:48 PM »
This one is really difficult to answer.  I have a 6 year old lab that I got from a rescue group for a $25 adoption fee (he was roughly 4 months old when I adopted him).  I spent a great deal of time working with him when he was young and he is a fantastically well behaved dog and a great companion.  That being said, he developed a rare form of cancer when he was only 9 months old.  I chose to have a $3,000 course of treatment because the prognosis was very good and he came out just fine.  Fast forward another 18 months and it came back.  Another $3,000 and he is still here 4 years later.    I've lovingly nick-named him BMW thanks to all the vet visits we've had and the total cost.  The real problem is that I can't get insurance on him for this particular condition (pre-existing condition exemption) so there is no hedge against this in the future.  At this point it would be a really difficult decision if I have to make this choice again.  Assuming a healthy dog, outside of the bi-annual check-ups which run about $150, I spend about $40 a month for food an incidentals.  I would highly recommend pet insurance if you're considering going down this road. 

FYI my dog is a mixed breed so that doesn't automatically insure they will be healthier.

h2ogal

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2014, 06:46:10 PM »
I have a wonderful big dog!  Although he weighs almost 120 lbs, he really doesn't cost a lot to feed - he doesn't have a very big appetite.  The main costs are vet bills.  The cost of the vet visits have really gone up in recent years.  A vet visit when we first got a dog was around $40.  Now we pay $80 or more for a generally healthy dog.  We probably average $300 per year in Vet bills. 

Another cost that that has increased quite a bit recently is kennel fees.  If you have to travel for work or for fun, and you don't have a friend or neighbor to keep your pet, the cost of a kennel is high.   We pay around $80 for a week away.

One thing to think about and plan for is what will you do if your beloved pet is badly injured.  My adult son has a dog, and when he was quite young the dog slipped on an icy stair case and broke his leg.    It was a bad break and required an operation and insertion of a metal plate to heal the bone.  The operation and recovery bill was over $6000  (we now call his dog "The $6000 dollar dog").   Although my son did not have a lot of spare cash, he could not live with himself if he had chosen to not do the operation, and the dog had suffered or not healed properly.    So, he wound up putting the bill on a credit card.


RunHappy

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2014, 06:48:43 PM »
Get a mutt.  Seriously.  Purebreds, while great, have approximately 1000% more health problems than mixed breeds.  Also, smaller dogs are cheaper than bigger dogs.  They have fewer issues with hips and legs as they age and of course eat less.  Dogs with a lot of wrinkles have a higher likelihood of infections.  Long-haired dogs need more grooming and require more clean up (although this may not directly cost more money).

You can price out food, dishes, leashes, collars/harnesses, bedding, crates, and preventative heartworm and flea medications online and ask a vet office about vaccination costs.

Not necessarily true about the mutt or purebreeds.  I know several mutts or purebreeds that have lived to their late teens, as well as many mutts and purebreeds that never saw middle age.  I do suggest getting a rescue.  With a lot of people (not on this site)n having severe financial problems (foreclosure, no savings, job loss) they are surrendering their pets to animal shelters.

If OP decides to get a purebreed (even from a shelter) I highly recommend looking up with are the most common health problems for that breed.

scrubbyfish

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #7 on: December 03, 2014, 06:59:06 PM »
Oh dear! Those are hefty costs. We always had a dog (one at a time) when I was growing up, but I think my parents spent nothing on it...but while the dog I remember most was healthy, he was neglected and this broke my heart so I'm pretty fierce about Big Care for pets. But wow... Surgeries... Cancer... I hadn't thought about those! (This is why I ask on the Forum of Very Intelligent People!) Yeah, I couldn't afford those things. I will definitely look into the costs and limitations of insurance, but maybe I will also look into things like:

-being a service dog trainer (the dog lives with you until training is complete)
-being a dog foster parent (needed for people going into shelters, dogs over the number an SPCA can hold, etc)
-being a dogsitter for my favourite dogs

I believe those cover the costs, but will check to make sure. None of those are the same as a dog becoming part of the family, but better than nothing.

Hmmmm... My son is eligible for an "autism service dog"...I wonder if that program helps cover costs. The waitlists are many years long, though, in any case.

JGB

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #8 on: December 03, 2014, 07:01:29 PM »
We have a 14-year-old rat terrier (basically a slender jack russell). We rescued him 10 years ago. In that time, his only health issues have been a touchy stomache (necessitating decent food and no table scraps), and a couple of teeth that needed attention (I think only one has ultimately required removal). All told, under $500/year including food.

lielec11

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #9 on: December 03, 2014, 07:03:36 PM »
I wouldn't base my getting a dog or not on the cost. If you really want one, and feel like you both will be mutual beneficial to each other, then go for it. I have a rescue mutt and he has brought more happiness to my life than I could ever imagine. When you have a bad day, they just know, and mine makes me feel better every day.

RunHappy

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #10 on: December 03, 2014, 07:33:54 PM »
I wouldn't base my getting a dog or not on the cost. If you really want one, and feel like you both will be mutual beneficial to each other, then go for it. I have a rescue mutt and he has brought more happiness to my life than I could ever imagine. When you have a bad day, they just know, and mine makes me feel better every day.

Very true.  At most I've had 4 animals at once and now I only have 1. My family always had a pet while I was growing up and I've never been without one (except while living in the dorms).  For me, I will always have a pet (cat or dog) because they bring a lot of happiness (and value) to my life.  The costs of pet ownership can be high but as a Mustachian if there is one thing we all know how to do...it is budgeting.  :)
« Last Edit: December 03, 2014, 07:36:01 PM by RunHappy »

The_path_less_taken

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #11 on: December 03, 2014, 07:43:40 PM »
I wouldn't base my getting a dog or not on the cost. If you really want one, and feel like you both will be mutual beneficial to each other, then go for it. I have a rescue mutt and he has brought more happiness to my life than I could ever imagine. When you have a bad day, they just know, and mine makes me feel better every day.

Ditto. Big time.

diesel15: having been there (and am kinda half there with one of my 4 right now), my heart goes out to you. I hope the dog is ok.

As for my answer: a dog is worth a thousand times what you could possibly ever pay, regardless.

1. You will be 'forced' to exercise at least twice a day with a dog, often 3x or more.
2. You can hike/camp in truly remote areas safely (there was a rapist in Tahoe some years back who targeted female campers).
3. You can sprinkle money on the floor and not worry about burglars: even small yappy dogs discourage them. They're cheaper than a home alarm system.
4. Properly trained they make awesome service dogs for visiting hospitals, nursing homes, etc.
5. They herd livestock: don't laugh...if you can get sheep into a pen quicker, I'll buy YOU a Nylabone.
6. They protect livestock. I have coyotes who regularly jump my fences. The dogs chase them out.
7. Strangers who wouldn't come up and speak to you by yourself will approach and be friendly if your dog is with you. (this can be good and bad, but usually good...if not, dogs are VERY protective)
8. Dogs make awesome foot warmers on cold nights. (my thermostat is set at 45F)
9. Dogs keep you in touch with your surroundings...is that a hawk overhead? Did you notice the deer on the hill? The rabbit by the barn?
10. Dogs will get you over that "gotta have new clothes" thing quick: you'll buy things that hide the dog hair.
11. Dogs know when you've had a bad day, and will console you.

12. Dogs will love you unconditionally. Forever.

Cheap at twice the price.

***I hike a lot and when I see people hiking solo without a dog I feel very sad for them. Who sits and shares your lunch when you get to the peak? Who goes swimming with you in that water hole? Who rolls around in the sun and knows how to enjoy the day like a dog?

southern granny

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #12 on: December 03, 2014, 07:44:25 PM »
My dog is 10 years old.  Generally the expenses are $20 a month for flea control and heartworm protection.  $20  a month for food.  One vet bill a year for around $150.  There have only been a few additional vet bills, however now that he is a "senior" that will probably go up.  It doesn't matter, he is worth every penny.  I get a lot more exercise.  There are a lot of days that I would skip my walking if he wasn't sitting in front of the door giving me the stink eye.  I sleep better knowing he will hear anything suspicious going on.  So exercise and better sleeping and making me laugh, I think he is earning his keep.

bogart

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #13 on: December 03, 2014, 08:12:55 PM »
My dogs have been cheap when they were young (virtually no vet bills) and gotten more expensive as they got older.  I'd agree with those who say they are priceless, but at the same time, if you don't have a margin of safety in your budget that could cover surgery costs or something like that -- you may not be ready.  Personally I'd be OK with that "margin" being a credit card available, assuming you have good credit and no other debt, and a willingness to cut back (and make a "sensible" dog decision, which likely means a rescue mutt -- it's true that there are healthy purebreds and unhealthy mutts, but the evidence seems to be pretty good that overall, we have inbred purebreds so much that we have messed them up, relative to mutts, on average).  I'm FAR from an expert but have the impression that many kids with spectrum disorders like autism can benefit from having an animal around (and that may be true for parents as well), so that may factor into your calculation of how much risk to take on (on the other hand, you may already be working with a smaller-than-average margin for error given your son's autism, so that could go either way, or maybe both simultaneously)?

lielec11

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #14 on: December 03, 2014, 08:27:43 PM »
12. Dogs will love you unconditionally. Forever.

Cheap at twice the price.

***I hike a lot and when I see people hiking solo without a dog I feel very sad for them. Who sits and shares your lunch when you get to the peak? Who goes swimming with you in that water hole? Who rolls around in the sun and knows how to enjoy the day like a dog?

This.

Unconditional love without judgement, a trait you will never find in humans. Also "...and knows how to enjoy the day like a dog?" is so true. He's so happy just to run around like a lunatic and chase a ball all day. Always makes me smile.

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #15 on: December 03, 2014, 08:28:54 PM »
Our 60lb retired racing greyhound eats a little under 2 cups of grain free kibble per day.

We calculated our full expenses for her in a year, and it came out to just under $1000.  She's in great health, needs no dog walker, is always taken care of by friends instead of boarded, and is generally an extremely easy and cheap dog.

So I'd say for a dog that eats what she eats, $1,000 / year on all care, including food, is on the low side of likely.

I'll also leave a plug for the breed.  Retired racing greyhounds are huge couch potatoes.  Contrary to what many think, they don't need tons of exercise.  And they need homes after their career is over.

They come off the track well acclimated to living with other dogs and being handled by many different people.  They are crate trained and very OK with the 9-5 professional schedule.

They also generally don't bark.  Our has barked twice in 2 years of living with us.  Both times we were shocked!

scrubbyfish

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #16 on: December 03, 2014, 08:52:06 PM »
I'd agree with those who say they are priceless, but at the same time, if you don't have a margin of safety in your budget that could cover surgery costs or something like that -- you may not be ready.

[...]

...impression that many kids with spectrum disorders like autism can benefit from having an animal around (and that may be true for parents as well), so that may factor into your calculation of how much risk to take on (on the other hand, you may already be working with a smaller-than-average margin for error given your son's autism, so that could go either way, or maybe both simultaneously)?

Yep. My finances are in pretty good shape because I've been rather fanatical about them for my kid's sake. But my kid's basic health stuff that isn't covered (even in Canada!) has come to a good $3000-$10000 a year (assessments, therapies, equipment to adjust for congenitally missing teeth, etc). When I got word of the teeth one, just a couple of months ago, I literally went into some degree of shock -shaking, disoriented, later crying- because I had believed the "big" costs related to his prematurity were now behind us, or at least already budgeted for. This one was entirely unanticipated, and taught me that I have to be prepared for more surprises. So I'm pretty cautious about bringing on anything else with a lot of potential cost variations.

They do say that many kids with autism are well supported by having a dog in the family. Thus, I pitched to my kid several times that maybe we should get one. One day he was very firm with me, "Mummy, it's not me that wants a dog...it's YOU! I just want a hamster!" Ha!

A furry family member does rock, but working in the poverty-relief fields, I've seen people who had to give up their pets -and in some cases children- because enough circumstances developed that they literally could not support them. They had plenty of love to go around, but not enough money. (Hmmm... This makes me think that even if I can budget for a couple of major circumstances in a dog's entire life, which I could if I look at it as over the dog's lifetime, I might at this point be more inclined to donate those amounts to support some other people's humans.)

Well, like I said, this isn't a decision I'll be making lightly or soon, and I sure appreciate hearing from everyone about real life costs -and about the benefits that outweigh those!

The_path_less_taken: Your list gave me happy laughs! Many of the items wouldn't apply in my case -my wardrobe is already extremely minimalist and practical, strangers are always talking to me, and I love nothing more than to be in nature alone- but I do want a larger dog for some hiking and camping protection (more bears than people), etc. Mostly I want to walk with a dog in the day, talk with it, and have it sleep next to me! We would love each other up!

horsepoor

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2014, 09:02:38 PM »
Oh gosh, now I want a Greyhound!

We have two dogs.  One is a mutt who showed up in my front yard one day with a broken leg.  As a best guess, she's lab and Staffordshire Terrier, about 80#.  Other dog is from the shelter and best guess is Border Collie and curly coated retriever.  The first one cost me the most her first few months, dealing with the broken leg, spaying, etc.  I've had her for over 10 years now and she's been very low maintenance.  I do keep her on a joint supplement to help with the residual effects of the broken leg, which was actually her pastern joint, and the arthritis in that shoulder, presumably from the same accident.  The second dog is about 50#, which I think is a perfect size for a dog. His adoption fee was $70 including neutering and first shots. They both eat about 2 cups of food per day.  They get the CostCo brand, which is actually a pretty good food, compared to the more expensive kibbles you can buy.  They seem to go through a bag every 5 weeks or so, for $29 per bag.  They also get CostCo dog biscuits, which are like $10 every couple months, and I might buy them a couple toys each year.  Places like Big Lots and TJMaxx usually have good dog toys for much cheaper than PetSmart.

I haven't treated them for fleas in years, and have not seen a single sign of fleas, though they are free to go outside whenever they want.  This has held true through living in 3 different houses in two different states; don't know if I'm just lucky or???  The one dog is white, so I'd notice if there was any flea crap in her coat.  The BC mix I clip myself during the summer, and I bathe them both myself, so grooming costs are nil (already had the clippers for my horses, but an excellent set that will last the dog's life and then some is about $120). 

Also, with my vet's blessing, they only get shots every three years.  If I have to board them, then they do need Bordatella each year.  Boarding is $12/dog/night, so it does make going out of town a little pricier.  Licenses are $19/dog/year.

Things like treating for cancer and so on are a personal choice.  A couple years ago, we had renters split town and abandon three dogs in their back yard.  One lived with us for a few weeks, then a local boarding kennel offered to foster her.  She got sick, it turned out she had a huge tumor.  She was an older dog and at that point, I would have had her PTS, but they spent like $2800 on surgery for her, then she died the next day.  To me, that was above and beyond anything they needed to do, and probably more than I would do for my own dog in that situation, but it's worth considering how you would deal with those end of life decisions when they collide with big vet bills.

diesel15

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2014, 09:14:25 PM »
I'll just add that I don't for a second regret adopting my dog even given the expensive health challenges that he's experienced.  I was fortunate in that these did not cripple my financially but were merely setbacks on my journey to FI.  I could never put a price on the enjoyment that he's brought to my life and the tough times that he's helped carry me through.  I definitely don't think this is a decision that is purely a financial one but I understand the challenge to try to quantify how much is too much in this regard.

midweststache

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2014, 06:25:09 AM »
We adopted a dog in April. Like you, we had been wanting one for years. We finally felt like we were in a position with our time and our finances to make the commitment.

We adopted from a shelter ($250 fee) and had to pay a pet deposit for our lease ($250). On top of that, we took Basic Obedience classes in the neighborhood (no car) for $150 (total for six classes). Aside from a fairly hefty vet bill involving some GI issues (total ~$250), our monthly bills have averaged $100. That's half food (grain-free kibble supplemented with freeze dried food) and half for our dog walker (there is one day a week when my partner and I are both away from home all day). The dog walker is a friend, but I feel it's important to pay her for her services. Add occasional toys and annual medications, we're right at $115-120/month (we buy our dog antlers because he's a chewer, and that's cheaper than replacing old wood furniture, but at $25/pop antlers are not inexpensive).

ALL THAT SAID: our dog is part of our family. He has cost us money in other ways (renting a car to visit family instead of bus or train tickets? yep.) but is totally worth it. Over Thanksgiving, we took him on a hike in a national park near our hometown; he LOVED it (he also helped drag me up the steep hills, which was nice). He has a goofy personality and loves nothing more than to be in the middle of his pack (my partner and I), whether we're curled up watching a movie or doing laps around the neighborhood for exercise. I'm at a fairly high-stress point in my professional life, and having our dog around calms me and makes me re-think the "importance" of my work.

I have always wanted to foster, but I feel like I'd probably just end up adopting whatever dog ended up in my care. Another option is Dogs on Deployment, where you foster a service member's dog for the length of their deployment. I'm not sure what costs are covered in this process, but after the craigslist fiasco where a bitter ex-girlfriend gave away her military boyfriend's dog to a family (who then refused to return it to him because their kids had grown attached) I imagine a lot more service members are conscious of who they leave their pups with...

Cromacster

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #20 on: December 04, 2014, 06:46:03 AM »
I have a 2 year 90lb German Shepherd.  If you don't include the amount I paid for him I average 158$/month.  This includes about 18 weeks of group obedience classes, all vet checkups, vaccinations, heartworm, flea/tick, toys and gear, etc.  Most months is just food and preventative medication, which runs me about 75$.

The first year as a puppy is definitely the most expensive, but on a normal month, with a healthy dog, you don't need to buy much more than food.  After you have yourself a good leash and collar the actual gear you need is pretty minimal.  Once a month I buy 2 lbs of marrow bones for 3$ and about every six months I buy a new jolly ball for 11$.  In the beginning I spent more on tugs and toys, until I found out his favorite toy is a piece of rope <1$. 

Woof

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #21 on: December 04, 2014, 07:49:15 AM »
We adopted our dog from a shelter, and she's wonderful.  Kids love her, she's great with them.  Initial startup cost is hard for me to remember exactly but was probably in the neighborhood of $150 or so for the adoption fee, a vet visit, and some supplies.

We take care of her and she's pretty healthy.  Vet and shots aren't outrageous and we buy a pretty decent dogfood at costco that quite reasonably priced.  All told we probably average $50-60/month over the year for vet/food/miscellaneous treats and toys.

The two things that can get you are:
Boarding - whenever we leave town and can't get someone to watch her, it costs you.  If you have friends/family/neighbor that the dog can stay with or that will come over frequently you can get some relief from this.

Unexpected Medical - We haven't had to go through this yet but some friends and family have where they have run into medical complications that can literally cost thousands....some pay it and some don't.  So it worth talking about up front...as I told my wife, there has to be some 'limit' to what we would be willing to spend on a pet.  It sounds callous but I don't know if I could stomach a 5 grand vet bill for something, others would pay it in a heartbeat for their animals...it's a highly personal decision.  Yes they are part of the family, but it's not like a child where I would spend down to my last cent to save them if something happens.  Just something to talk about before you commit.

Siobhan

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #22 on: December 04, 2014, 08:01:35 AM »
Get a mutt.  Seriously.  Purebreds, while great, have approximately 1000% more health problems than mixed breeds.  Also, smaller dogs are cheaper than bigger dogs.  They have fewer issues with hips and legs as they age and of course eat less.  Dogs with a lot of wrinkles have a higher likelihood of infections.  Long-haired dogs need more grooming and require more clean up (although this may not directly cost more money).

You can price out food, dishes, leashes, collars/harnesses, bedding, crates, and preventative heartworm and flea medications online and ask a vet office about vaccination costs.

Not necessarily true about the mutt or purebreeds.  I know several mutts or purebreeds that have lived to their late teens, as well as many mutts and purebreeds that never saw middle age.  I do suggest getting a rescue.  With a lot of people (not on this site)n having severe financial problems (foreclosure, no savings, job loss) they are surrendering their pets to animal shelters.

If OP decides to get a purebreed (even from a shelter) I highly recommend looking up with are the most common health problems for that breed.

Second RunHappy....my mutt dog has run me over 10k in vet bills in 6 years,  I keep telling him he better save my life from a fire or something someday, because all he does is shed, shit, eat and go to the vet (kidding! Well, partially kidding, I love him, and he is SUPER attached to my husband but MAN is he expensive)

rocksinmyhead

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #23 on: December 04, 2014, 08:11:20 AM »
Unexpected Medical - We haven't had to go through this yet but some friends and family have where they have run into medical complications that can literally cost thousands....some pay it and some don't.  So it worth talking about up front...as I told my wife, there has to be some 'limit' to what we would be willing to spend on a pet.  It sounds callous but I don't know if I could stomach a 5 grand vet bill for something, others would pay it in a heartbeat for their animals...it's a highly personal decision.  Yes they are part of the family, but it's not like a child where I would spend down to my last cent to save them if something happens.  Just something to talk about before you commit.

Agreed. I think the high vet costs some people are talking about are basically a crapshoot - we have an 11.5-year-old husky/German Shepherd mix and so far his only vet bills (other than annual checkup/vaccination stuff) have been a couple times when he got into a porcupine and the quill situation was too bad for my boyfriend to handle on his own. (One other time he was able to pull them out himself, and another time right after we started dating I got to help... I guess this was my induction into their pack.) Plus if you are going to be exercising a lot with the dog, I think that can help just like with humans (obviously some things can't be prevented by exercise but it doesn't hurt) - at our dog's yearly vet visit this year the vet said he was in AWESOME health for an 11-year-old and that his joints seemed to be in good shape for an older dog, which he at least partially attributed to the fact that he wasn't overweight like a lot of family pets they see. But at the same time, I think you need to establish for yourself going into it what you would be willing to pay, and for what things (I'd be more likely to pay for something expensive for a younger dog if they are likely to go on and live a healthy life afterwards, vs. paying to just drag things out for an older dog at a lower quality of life, for example).

Cookie78

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #24 on: December 04, 2014, 08:46:27 AM »
-being a dog foster parent (needed for people going into shelters, dogs over the number an SPCA can hold, etc)

I'd highly recommend this option if you decide not to get a dog of your own. I foster dogs and love it. The organization I foster with pays all of the vet bills and supplies food, toys, crates, obedience classes, etc. The only thing that's required from me is time and love and a little training. If I have to go out of town they arrange for a temporary foster while I'm gone. I do pay a little for gas money to drive the dogs to and from the vet appointments if required, and to pick them up. Also some people drive the dogs to the potential adopters homes to meet them, but I just have them meet at my house, or the park nearby.

I do also have a 5 year old dog of my own, and added up the monthly costs a few days ago. $170/month, but most of my costs were for boarding ($29/night). Vet bill once per year for checkup, shots, and preventative medication. Generally healthy dog, but I have paid extra costs for an emergency tooth removal after an incident with a dog on the other side of the fence, and another time to remove porcupine quills.

skunkfunk

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #25 on: December 04, 2014, 08:48:38 AM »
My collie/german shepherd mutt costs probably $60/month including food, training, toys, vet bills, medicine, her crate, etc.

So much poop in the yard, though.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #26 on: December 04, 2014, 10:16:36 AM »
As much as you're willing to spend. No MMM fanatic would have spent the 11k on my schanuzer but in the end, he was medicated and living fine when he suddenly died of something completely unrelated. I don't regret a dime. He was cheap until the health issues.

So if you follow most of the advice I've received, a dog is cheap until the moment you are inconvenienced by the euthanasia bill you get to avoid treating your dog for it's ailment.

Cromacster

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #27 on: December 04, 2014, 10:32:37 AM »
-being a dog foster parent (needed for people going into shelters, dogs over the number an SPCA can hold, etc)

I'd highly recommend this option if you decide not to get a dog of your own. I foster dogs and love it. The organization I foster with pays all of the vet bills and supplies food, toys, crates, obedience classes, etc. The only thing that's required from me is time and love and a little training. If I have to go out of town they arrange for a temporary foster while I'm gone. I do pay a little for gas money to drive the dogs to and from the vet appointments if required, and to pick them up. Also some people drive the dogs to the potential adopters homes to meet them, but I just have them meet at my house, or the park nearby.

I do also have a 5 year old dog of my own, and added up the monthly costs a few days ago. $170/month, but most of my costs were for boarding ($29/night). Vet bill once per year for checkup, shots, and preventative medication. Generally healthy dog, but I have paid extra costs for an emergency tooth removal after an incident with a dog on the other side of the fence, and another time to remove porcupine quills.

Just an FYI but if the organization you are fostering for is properly registered for whatever charitable organization under the IRS all your costs associated with fostering animals is tax deductible.

Cookie78

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #28 on: December 04, 2014, 10:44:02 AM »
-being a dog foster parent (needed for people going into shelters, dogs over the number an SPCA can hold, etc)

I'd highly recommend this option if you decide not to get a dog of your own. I foster dogs and love it. The organization I foster with pays all of the vet bills and supplies food, toys, crates, obedience classes, etc. The only thing that's required from me is time and love and a little training. If I have to go out of town they arrange for a temporary foster while I'm gone. I do pay a little for gas money to drive the dogs to and from the vet appointments if required, and to pick them up. Also some people drive the dogs to the potential adopters homes to meet them, but I just have them meet at my house, or the park nearby.

I do also have a 5 year old dog of my own, and added up the monthly costs a few days ago. $170/month, but most of my costs were for boarding ($29/night). Vet bill once per year for checkup, shots, and preventative medication. Generally healthy dog, but I have paid extra costs for an emergency tooth removal after an incident with a dog on the other side of the fence, and another time to remove porcupine quills.

Just an FYI but if the organization you are fostering for is properly registered for whatever charitable organization under the IRS all your costs associated with fostering animals is tax deductible.

Thanks!
I'm in Canada, so it won't be registered with the IRS, but the same might apply here. I'll look into it.

Cromacster

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #29 on: December 04, 2014, 10:48:15 AM »
Get a mutt.  Seriously.  Purebreds, while great, have approximately 1000% more health problems than mixed breeds.  Also, smaller dogs are cheaper than bigger dogs.  They have fewer issues with hips and legs as they age and of course eat less.  Dogs with a lot of wrinkles have a higher likelihood of infections.  Long-haired dogs need more grooming and require more clean up (although this may not directly cost more money).

You can price out food, dishes, leashes, collars/harnesses, bedding, crates, and preventative heartworm and flea medications online and ask a vet office about vaccination costs.

Not necessarily true about the mutt or purebreeds.  I know several mutts or purebreeds that have lived to their late teens, as well as many mutts and purebreeds that never saw middle age.  I do suggest getting a rescue.  With a lot of people (not on this site)n having severe financial problems (foreclosure, no savings, job loss) they are surrendering their pets to animal shelters.

If OP decides to get a purebreed (even from a shelter) I highly recommend looking up with are the most common health problems for that breed.

Note: After writing and re-reading, This is more of a public service announcement than anything specific with this thread.

The main problem has been irresponsible breeders which are enabled by poorly educated buyers.  People see they can treat a dog like shit and barely keep it alive, but breed it and sell the puppies for $400 a pop.  Easy money.  So it's not only the breeders fault, but also the people looking to buy these poorly bred, cheap puppies.  I say cheap because dogs that have been shown, titled, have desirably health and temperament, and have proven lines run 1,000-5,000.  If you talk to these breeders selling their dogs for 1,000+ a majority are just breaking even, essentially they do it because they enjoy the dogs and love the breed.  That's not to say there aren't breeders who make a living off of it while doing it responsibly, granted it is usually supplemented by high level training in service or protection.

When the purpose for breeding becomes $ you get watered down lines and bad genetics that get passed on.  This has been seen in German Shepherds, Labs of all sorts, Pugs, Chihuahuas, etc etc.  Essentially, it happens to whatever becomes the "it" dog.

In a perfect world, everyone purchasing a dog would be responsible and purchase from a responsible, proven breeder.  Until then get a shelter dog or do your due diligence and be willing to spend the money.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 10:50:36 AM by Cromacster »

jeromedawg

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #30 on: December 04, 2014, 11:02:43 AM »
Get a mutt.  Seriously.  Purebreds, while great, have approximately 1000% more health problems than mixed breeds.  Also, smaller dogs are cheaper than bigger dogs.  They have fewer issues with hips and legs as they age and of course eat less.  Dogs with a lot of wrinkles have a higher likelihood of infections.  Long-haired dogs need more grooming and require more clean up (although this may not directly cost more money).

You can price out food, dishes, leashes, collars/harnesses, bedding, crates, and preventative heartworm and flea medications online and ask a vet office about vaccination costs.

Not necessarily true about the mutt or purebreeds.  I know several mutts or purebreeds that have lived to their late teens, as well as many mutts and purebreeds that never saw middle age.  I do suggest getting a rescue.  With a lot of people (not on this site)n having severe financial problems (foreclosure, no savings, job loss) they are surrendering their pets to animal shelters.

If OP decides to get a purebreed (even from a shelter) I highly recommend looking up with are the most common health problems for that breed.

Second RunHappy....my mutt dog has run me over 10k in vet bills in 6 years,  I keep telling him he better save my life from a fire or something someday, because all he does is shed, shit, eat and go to the vet (kidding! Well, partially kidding, I love him, and he is SUPER attached to my husband but MAN is he expensive)

omg, I was reading the second part of your sentence *while* drinking water and was SO close to spitting it out but was able to keep myself under control. Hahahahahahahahahahahaaha!!!

pete5306

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #31 on: December 04, 2014, 11:04:34 AM »
We got a golden-doodle.  Expenses have been minimal.  $100 per year in medical then a $25 bag of food every month.  Maybe $5 a month for tennis balls. 

Per the attached picture I have been skimping on upgrading her bed, she seems pretty happy though :)

In my mind the expenses are totally worth having a good companion.  Love my dog. 

former player

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #32 on: December 04, 2014, 11:09:36 AM »
I suspect that dogs used to be relatively cheap to keep because there weren't so many vets and there was less they could do - any health issues bad enough to cost a lot of money weren't something which could be treated in any case.  Now the sky is the limit on health costs, much as it is with humans.

I have my dog (rescued farm collie) insured, mainly because I want to be sure that I make the right decisions for him without thinking about the money -as far as I'm concerned, it's his equivalent to the NHS.  Although the excess is 90 per illness, so he has just cost me 50 in kennel cough treatments.

Generally, I'd say 150 per month to cover everything.  The benefits are priceless.

jamal utah

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #33 on: December 04, 2014, 11:11:53 AM »
I was playing a trivia board game recently and their was a question about the average cost of a dog over its lifetime.  I don't know the source of this number, but the card said $30,000.   The accuracy of this number is obviously debatable, but I assume the statistic was based on some type of research.

The_path_less_taken

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #34 on: December 04, 2014, 11:24:31 AM »
scrubbyfish- glad you laughed.

To the op and anyone who is on the fence about adopting a dog...there's an amazingly awesome FREE alternative that most people don't even consider. No, not fostering.

Just volunteering with your local animal shelter or a rescue organization to socialize dogs. Or to work with abused dogs. Or just plain walk the normal dogs that end up at those places because people are irresponsible fuckwits who treat animals like used Kleenex tissue: disposable.

They're not disposable. They're part of your family. For life.

When I was renting I used to go down and just hike with the dogs through the Tahoe animal shelter. The dogs loved it. I loved it. Go get them, hike for a while, come back, give them the dog back. Some shelters do require you sign a "whatever happens is your problem" form to cover their ass legally but most don't. They're just thrilled that someone is spending time with the dogs and they're not cooped up in a concrete kennel.

My specialty was working with severely abused dogs...the ones who were so traumatized they couldn't pick their head up or make eye contact. Some would be frantically trying to dig thru the concrete with their nose to escape when I first saw them...but they ALL recovered. Just took a few visits.

Dogs are fucking amazing.


RichMoose

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #35 on: December 04, 2014, 11:32:20 AM »
We've got a Lhasa Apso X that we adopted from the Humane Society about 1.5 years ago. He's a little smaller than what I was first looking for, but now that we have him I'm happy with his size he's really a perfect dog for cuddling and just nicely lying on the sofa beside us. We do pretty much everything on our own, so the costs of keeping him are very low. Since adoption the only money we've spent is on food, a sturdy collar and leash, a bottle of Pepto Bismol (good for when they have upset stomach), a crate, dog bed (a true waste of money, he's just as happy laying in my old sweater), nail clippers, brush, cheap clippers from Amazon, a electronic training collar from Amazon, the municipal license fee, and some booster shots which I administer myself. The cost of the shots is very minimal, less than $10 for the medication itself from the animal pharmacy. Thanks to my farmer friends, I get it directly and skip the massive vet markups. The injection is incredibly easy, simply lift the dog's skin above the shoulder and inject. Viola!

Food cost is very minimal, he eats about 1 cup of quality dry kibble per day. He's really quite inactive in the house, spends 90% of his day laying in my old sweater that's on top of his dog bed, but I walk him 2 - 8 kilometers every day so he gets his digs out then.

We groom him ourselves, this really just includes clipping him down 2-3 times per year, trimming his nails every month or two, and brushing him every second day.

I really don't trust the vets in my area at all and would advise anyone to see the vet as minimal as possible, especially if your dog is healthy. A proper diet and exercise including that daily walk is truly the best medicine.

NumberCruncher

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #36 on: December 04, 2014, 12:10:14 PM »
As cheap as $1,000/year or so, and potentially very expensive O.o

We adopted this year, and had to go through 3-4 different rounds of deworming (usually avoidable, but I think the worms just weren't caught before we adopted? It was a nightmare, and we had an annoying team of vets at the first office we went to), didn't initially price-shop around for vets, our dog had bloat this year (almost $5k all in...), and we need to start on a daily supplement for his liver that is $75/mo...

Yeah. I'm on the high end of the spectrum. We have spent roughly $10k all told this year. Our spending not including pets is $26k...

Things we've learned:
(1) Shop around for a vet
(2) Dogs are simple. Boiled sweet potato or some banana is a great treat
(3) Shop around for medications. Do not just pay for meds at the vet, especially if they are non-prescription.
(4) Have a plan/research. No dog is immune to emergency issues or medical needs (though the likelihood can be diminished). Can you afford to pay for things that come up? Are you willing to pay that price or be heartbroken? We had to deal with this and decide in 5-10 minutes whether to euthanize our dog or pay $5k. I recommend a "your money or your life" approach. We are lucky to have high salaries and a high savings rate, so $5k for us was two weeks. Looking at it like that...totally worth it. :)
(5) For vaccines, a pop-up clinic or similar initiatives often have much cheaper costs than the vet. Yearly vaccines should not cost an arm and a leg. Basically don't trust the vet until you look online in general :P  Sorry to any vets on this board, but...yeah, crazy mark ups. Our first vet, first visit was all "oh, we'll just send you home with X, Y, and Z since his skin was a little irritated that shaved spot." First bill that was basically a check up was somewhere between $350-$500 ALWAYS ask the price, then check to see if it's at all reasonable.
(6) Grooming can be a pain, but bribes help immensely. Clip a nail, you get a bite - much easier than wrestling with the clippers.

We love our dog and don't regret our decision to adopt...but it will be a while before we adopt again...

EDIT: Btw, we have a golden retriever. No matter how much you brush, THERE IS ALWAYS FUR EVERYWHERE. The shedding is ridiculous. Yes, he's fluffy and adorable, but we need to vacuum all the time and are constantly covered in fur. If we get a dog again in the future, I am going to push for a breed without a double coat. Twice a year, they go into super shedding mode, too, where the fur literally comes out in these little tufts. Granted, tuft-hunting is fun, but it just ups the ridiculousness.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2014, 12:22:16 PM by NumberCruncher »

Cookie78

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #37 on: December 04, 2014, 12:16:45 PM »
Great advice in here! Easy cost cutting tips I hadn't even considered. :D

skunkfunk

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #38 on: December 04, 2014, 01:18:36 PM »
Say what you will about vet bills, those guys are amazing. The number of things they have to know and do without specialists and on different species is just mind boggling. They do it for far less money than human healthcare, too, something that I hope does not change.

Cromacster

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #39 on: December 04, 2014, 01:26:23 PM »
Say what you will about vet bills, those guys are amazing. The number of things they have to know and do without specialists and on different species is just mind boggling. They do it for far less money than human healthcare, too, something that I hope does not change.

My friend is a veterinary radiologist and she works on everything from cats and dogs, to lions and penguins.  It's crazy. 

scrubbyfish

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #40 on: December 04, 2014, 03:19:19 PM »
Per the attached picture I have been skimping on upgrading her bed...

Another potentially-water-through-the-nose laugh!!

*

I'm really happy I raised this question at all. It's very helpful to hear the range of true potential costs, and also wonderful to hear all the love! Today I was in town grocery shopping, and my heart started beating fast with excitement at the pet supply aisle. I know I would want to get everything that might give more health and happiness to my dog (again, hence the caution).

I'm trying to find the photo of a dog I tore out of a magazine to post here. I had found the pic, posted it to my wall in my last place, and declared him my pet until the real thing comes through.

Maybe a dog can be my reward to myself if I ever get my investments moved from high-fee to low-fee accounts.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #41 on: December 04, 2014, 03:26:49 PM »
Say what you will about vet bills, those guys are amazing. The number of things they have to know and do without specialists and on different species is just mind boggling. They do it for far less money than human healthcare, too, something that I hope does not change.

True story.

Also, NumberCruncher's post makes me realize we got really lucky with how cheap our vet is without shopping around at ALL. We hadn't brought our older dog to the vet since we moved to Oklahoma, and then when our second dog showed up on our doorstep as a stray 8 week old puppy with worms, 30 minutes before we were set to leave for a camping weekend, we just took her to the vet that was less than a mile from our house and said, "here, we found this dog, we'll pay for vaccinations and de-worming and boarding for the weekend and then we'll come back on Monday and decide what to do with her" (yeah, we kept her). Even all of that for the first visit only cost $125, no joke.

Breaker

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #42 on: December 04, 2014, 03:48:54 PM »
Get yourself and your kid a dog.  You won't regret it.  They bring so much joy and happiness into your life they are worth every penny you spend on them.  And it's not that much. 

The food costs are not bad and the one thing I spend the most on are Vet bills.  However you have said that you want to adopt an older dog so that cuts early expenses way down.  Just like Humans, Dr./Vet bills are the most expensive at both ends of life.  Think Puppy vs Baby, only the puppy bills are over with in a year or so.  Think Old Dog vs Older people.

Since you plan to give your dog plenty of exercise, it's my belief that will make a huge dent in the amount of health care needed.  Most family dogs like most people are way under exercised.  This leaves them prone to poor digestion, anxiety and I'm sure other issues. 

A single dog is not that expensive to feed.  I have had a bunch of dogs for so long I have no idea how much 1 dog would cost. 

I'll put in a plug for a rescue Border Collie.  They are medium sized though the one I just lost, at 13 1/2 years, was 24" at the shoulder.  They need/love the exercise.  They are easy to train and bond with you completely.  They love to play their whole life long.  Your kid will develop a strong throwing arm.  Also, be prepared to be watched all of the time.

For a dog who is a bit larger a Belgian Shepherd is an athletic, intelligent and easily trainable breed.  You can get them thru breed specific rescues.  I have the Tervuren variety.

Neither of the 2 above breeds have many genetic health problems.  All of mine have lasted an average of 12-13 years without any large Vet outlays during their middle years.  Both breeds eat moderately.  They are also happy to play with sticks, found tennis balls and other inexpensive (read free) toys. 

Both breeds love to be with you but the Border Collies are slightly more independent. Maybe, this is dog dependent.

If you would like more info on either breed or contact information on breed specific rescues, please contact me privately.

Breaker

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #43 on: December 04, 2014, 04:20:46 PM »
I was playing a trivia board game recently and their was a question about the average cost of a dog over its lifetime.  I don't know the source of this number, but the card said $30,000.   The accuracy of this number is obviously debatable, but I assume the statistic was based on some type of research.

This number is absolutely NUTS.  I have had as many as 6 dogs at one time, they earn my living.  All of their expenses are tax deductible as a business expense and in the 16 years I have run my business I doubt the I have run up $30K for all of the dogs and years combined.  Bear in mind that anything I could think of that was dog related went into my tax deductions.  Perhaps it was a typo.   

scrubbyfish

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #44 on: December 04, 2014, 04:29:05 PM »
This number is absolutely NUTS.

Don't worry: Sources say similar things about raising kids, and we Mustachians know it just ain't so!! When they make up these numbers for kids, we know they're padding them with things like disposable diapers, high-cost sports fees, etc, none of which are inherent to raising a human child.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2014, 06:17:06 PM »
A lot.  A lot.  I have two dogs, and honestly if I had to live my life over, what I would change is getting the dogs.  I love them, I really do.  But they are so much more work and expense than I expected.

One of the dogs needed surgery five years ago, to the tune of $3,000, after he ate a chicken leg whole (chicken + kids + careless babysitter + naughty dog = disaster, I learned).  We had been planning a vacation to visit family in California, and I told my kids that the dog ate our trip to California.  Oh well. 

I actually do the Banfield $36 per month for each dog.  They get a free dental cleaning each year, which they both need, along with all of their shots.  That, plus food and supplies, is manageable.  The financial risk a dog exposes you to is the real threat.  FTR, for about one minute I considered putting the dog down rather than spending the money, but he was so young and sweet and I knew he'd recover quickly.  Also the kid who had let him get the chicken bone would have felt so horrible. 

iwasjustwondering

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #46 on: December 04, 2014, 06:20:09 PM »
We have a 14-year-old rat terrier (basically a slender jack russell). We rescued him 10 years ago. In that time, his only health issues have been a touchy stomache (necessitating decent food and no table scraps), and a couple of teeth that needed attention (I think only one has ultimately required removal). All told, under $500/year including food.

I have a rat terrier, too!  She is a doll.  She's five.  She was a rescue, too.  Her only real issues so far are terrible allergies (which make her bite her paws and rub her eyes).  The vet thought it was food-related, so we put her on ridiculously expensive food and antihistamines, but I am now quite sure it was seasonal, because she has now had it two years in a row, in the early fall.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #47 on: December 04, 2014, 06:22:41 PM »
Oh dear! Those are hefty costs. We always had a dog (one at a time) when I was growing up, but I think my parents spent nothing on it...but while the dog I remember most was healthy, he was neglected and this broke my heart so I'm pretty fierce about Big Care for pets. But wow... Surgeries... Cancer... I hadn't thought about those! (This is why I ask on the Forum of Very Intelligent People!) Yeah, I couldn't afford those things. I will definitely look into the costs and limitations of insurance, but maybe I will also look into things like:

-being a service dog trainer (the dog lives with you until training is complete)
-being a dog foster parent (needed for people going into shelters, dogs over the number an SPCA can hold, etc)
-being a dogsitter for my favourite dogs

I believe those cover the costs, but will check to make sure. None of those are the same as a dog becoming part of the family, but better than nothing.

Hmmmm... My son is eligible for an "autism service dog"...I wonder if that program helps cover costs. The waitlists are many years long, though, in any case.
The costs are very hefty, but there is *nothing* like a dog for helping a kid with troubles.  Go for it!  Kids who grow up with dogs are less likely to have mental or emotional problems throughout their live.  This may be because they had parents who wanted to have a pet as part of a loving, warm family environment.  But I think the actual pet interaction plays a large role. 

RunHappy

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #48 on: December 04, 2014, 06:43:18 PM »
We got a golden-doodle.  Expenses have been minimal.  $100 per year in medical then a $25 bag of food every month.  Maybe $5 a month for tennis balls. 

Per the attached picture I have been skimping on upgrading her bed, she seems pretty happy though :)

In my mind the expenses are totally worth having a good companion.  Love my dog.

I heard golden-doodles do not shed.  Is this true?  Super cute BTW!

pagoconcheques

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Re: how much does a dog cost?
« Reply #49 on: December 04, 2014, 07:30:11 PM »
Dogs can be unbelievably expensive, but can also be worth every penny.  From a money perspective, I think three things are really important:  1) A dog that barks will increase your household security more than an alarm system.  If your neighborhood/situation warrants having a monitored alarm, you can cancel it and probably pay for the dog with the savings.  2) Have an end-of-life plan for your dog.  It will almost certainly die before you do and the last couple of vet visits can add up to more than every cent you spent on the dog in the previous 10-12 years.  Decide your cut-off point in terms of dollars, communicate it to the vet early, and simply euthanize when the time comes.  3) Size matters.  Big dogs eat and poop much more than small dogs.  'Nuff said.