Of course, dogs bring huge joy into your life. The cliche that "money can't buy happiness" is a little misguided -– money does buy happiness if you spend your limited dollars on experiences and relationships, and that includes such things as (happily) paying the costs of canine companionship.
But before you bring a furry friend into your home, make sure your budget can handle all the costs. To help you out, we've put together a guide that covers some of the basic costs you can expect to face over your dog's lifetime.
Bear in mind that these numbers are estimated averages meant to give you an idea of the costs you'll incur. Dogs vary widely when it comes to average lifespan and typical breed health, and smaller breeds will, by their nature, cost less when it comes to things like food.
In addition, whether your dog is a purebred or a mixed breed will also play into your costs. A good mutt has hybrid vigor one his side, but his uncertain history could make him a wild card when it comes to temperament and potential health issues. A dog from a breeder may be a safer bet in this regard, but many purebreds are prone to breed-specific medical issues like hip dysplasia.
10 Ways Your Dog Can Cost You Tens of Thousands
10 Ways a Dog Can Cost You Tens of Thousands of Dollars
There are startup costs associated with getting or adopting a dog that you probably won't need to pay for again in years to come. Some you may need to replace on occasion after wear and tear (like leashes and dog bowls), but most are not regular costs. These can include adoption fees ($100-$500), spaying or neutering ($35-$200), food and water bowls ($10-$40), collar and leash ($20-$100), dog bed ($25-$200), crate ($20-$250), training ($30-$300) and fencing (if your yard does not already have one) (up to $2,500).
You'll want to make sure to choose high-quality food that's right for your dog's size and age. ($250-$500 per year)
Again, based on your dog -- and your own personal preferences. This range covers everything from basic Milk Bones to gourmet carob cookies and can include dental hygiene treats like Greenies and Dentastix. ($100-$200 per year)
Not just for fun, these are necessary for your pet's mental stimulation and exercise. If your dog is a "tough chewer," you may need to invest in toys that are designed to be especially durable. ($20-$200 per year)
This will depend greatly on your dog's breed. Short-haired dogs may only need the occasional bath, while higher-maintenance breeds can require regular grooming to keep up appearances. Do it yourself if you're up to the challenge, or take your pooch to a pro. ($50-$1,000 per year)
Dogs make messes, whether that's tracking mud onto your new carpets or getting sick on your new shoes. You'll want to have some stain and odor removers on hand for the unexpected. ($10-$100 per year)
You should take your dog in for an annual (or biannual) checkup as your vet recommends. This can include an office visit fee, vaccinations blood work, fecal exam and dental cleaning as needed. ($500-$1,000 per year)
All dogs should be on preventive medications like heartworm medicine and flea and tick prevention. ($200-$500) Depending on your dog's physical condition, you could also wind up paying for additional nutritional supplements (up to around $100 per year).
Anything can happen, and with the way dogs tend to get into stuff, it often does. Whether it's an unforeseen illness or an accident, chances are you may be making an emergency vet visit at least once in your dog's life, and the cost can add up to the thousands when you count in things like X-rays and emergency surgery. You may want to play it safe and invest in a pet insurance plan to help defray potential costs here. ($500-$5,000 per year)
Most of us are out of town at least once a year, whether it's for a vacation or a wedding. If you're a frequent traveler, this number will obviously be much higher. Boarding is the cheaper option, but hiring a pet sitter to stay with your dog in your home (or take your dog into theirs) may be worth the extra TLC in your mind. ($200-$500 per year)
Acknowledging that all these numbers are ballpark figures, you'll average $500 to $5,000 per year on your dog.
The lower end of the spectrum ($500) assumes that you skip a lot of these expenses: you don't buy pet insurance, don't pay for emergency vet care costs, don't give nutritional supplements, don't pay for grooming, don't buy treats, don't pay for boarding and you have a very low-cost veterinarian. If you do purchase everything on the aforementioned list, but pay the lowest end of the spectrum, your price tag reaches $1,880 per year, excluding first-year costs. And if you pay the high end of everything on this list, including a major emergency vet bill, your costs reach $9,100 (although this situation is extremely unlikely).
Considering the average dog lifespan (again, this varies greatly by breed) runs around 10 years, this means the total lifetime cost of your dog could be anywhere from $5,000 to the tens of thousands.
Sound like a lot? It is, and you need to be prepared for that. But don't get caught up on the negatives. Because there's one other number we haven't yet mentioned: Lifetime value of a dog's undying affection, amusing shenanigans and eager companionship? Priceless.
Paula Pant ditched her 9-to-5 job in 2008. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns seven rental units and runs a business from her laptop. Her blog, Afford Anything, is a gathering spot for rebels who want to ditch the cubicle, shatter limits and live life on your own terms -- while also building wealth, security and freedom.