The real cost of owning a dog

We are pet people plain and simple. My wife and I grew up always owning pets, mainly dogs. We have owned several different types of pets over the years, including birds, fish (fresh and salt water) rats, guinea pigs, cats and dogs.

At one time in my youth I cared for four dogs and three cats. It's a great lesson in responsibility to care for an animal. Since Mushu has been our only pet for the last three years I wanted to share with you the cost of owning a dog.

Initial Costs
There are several places you can adopt a dog from, shelters, private breeders, pet stores, and rescues. I've probably been in hundreds of pet stores to see the cute puppies by myself or dragged into one by my wife or kids. I have never purchased a dog from a pet store. We have always used local breeders or shelters.

What I would suggest is to do your research both on the location you like to adopt from and the type of dog you'd like. Mushu is a Shiba Inu. We spent several weeks researching and visiting with different dog breeds to make our final decision. The American Kennel Club is a good place to start.

Once we decided on a Shiba Inu, we first attempted to adopt from a local rescue, but they had a waiting list. We were able to find a local breeder with puppies available, but at a high cost. We worked the numbers into our budget and here's a breakdown of cost:

  • Puppy – $2000
  • AKC registration – $40
  • Crate – $99
  • Bed – $25
  • Collar – $15
  • Leash – $22
  • Puppy Food – $14
  • Bowl – $15
  • Toys – $26

Our grand total spent was $2256. Now, this is not typical. Other dog breeds from a private breeder will cost far less. Adopting from a shelter or rescue usually requires a donation. Pet stores will vary. Your dog will need some "stuff" and that stuff will add expense. The good news is that most of it can be purchased once.

If adopting a puppy, keep the full-grown size of your dog in mind and purchase stuff to accommodate. This will help eliminating having to purchase new gear as your dog grows. It important to do your homework to capture all the initial cost of adopting a pet because after the initial cost there will be ongoing costs as well.

Health, Grooming, and General Care
Like any member of your family you want to make sure they are in good health, smell good, and groom properly. A dog is no different. Well maybe just on the frequently of how often some of these things take place.

A lot of this with vary by breed, but here's a snap shot of how we care for Mushu and the associated cost to give you an idea of what owning a dog might cost after the initial adoption.

  • Quarterly Check-ups – $100 per visit - $400
  • Food and treats – $50 – 6 times year – $300
  • Grooming/Baths – $25 – quarterly – $100
  • Toys – $20 – twice a year – $40

On average Mushu adds $840 to our yearly budget or about $70 per month. Recently he come down with a rash on his backside and we had to make an extra trip to the veterinarian at a cost of $104 for exam and medications.

Another wildcard is when we travel we must board him. Depending on length of stay and activity we want to schedule for him, costs can run an additional $15-25 a day. Obviously if you have a family member or neighbor who can pet sit for you can save this cost. We have done this in the past, but with Mushu we find it best to board him.

We also give Mushu baths at home from time to time, brush his coat, walk and play with him often. He weighs just under thirty pounds and his by far the smallest dog I have ever owned.

Mushu is part of our family. Everyone share in the responsibility of his care. It would be difficult imagining our family without a dog. For us the cost, work and effort is well worth it.

The post The Cost of Owning a Dog first appeared on Debt Discipline.

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