Can You Really Afford a Dog?

Cassie Denger and Emily Franco in Wealth Management 21 June, 2019

dogsIf you’re currently a dog owner, you know how awesome it is to have a furry friend by your side, but have you thought about how much your pal can cost? It is important to think with your wallet, and not your heart, because studies show the lifetime cost of owning a dog ranges from $5,000 – $20,000. Many people underestimate how much they’ll actually pay for their pet. If you’re thinking about becoming a dog owner, here are a few considerations to take into account.

Before bringing home your new best friend, you should make sure you are financially sound first. From personal experience we know how hard it can be to say no to a cute face! It’s important to know what your budget is, what you are capable of saving and how much you can put aside for emergencies each month. Becoming a dog owner isn’t just a one time fee to buy or adopt and the monthly costs are much more than just a $20 bag of food.

While we’re sure you’ve considered the basic necessities, including food, toys, and housebreaking essentials (if applicable), it can be difficult to put a set dollar amount on how much you’ll spend on your new pet. We would argue the amount you spend depends on a variety of factors. Are you buying from a breeder or adopting from a shelter? If adopting, will you choose a puppy or an older dog? Will you splurge on a monthly Bark Box? What about doggie spas and blueberry facials? All joking aside, there are a lot of costs to consider.

If you work during the day or just aren’t home enough, you’ll want to consider doggie daycare or hiring someone to walk your dog. The puppy rate on is $20 per visit so you’ll need to take that into account when creating your pet budget. A great way to save money on walks or daycare is to trade dog duties with a friend, family member or neighbor who is available.

Once you decide you’re getting a dog, do your research on breeds. The breed of dog will affect the cost. Also, think about your lifestyle and how much time you’ll be able to free up to keep them active. When it comes to breeds, grooming is another factor to consider. The cost for a full-groom service on a long haired dog can be $85 plus tip and you’ll have to get the dog groomed about every six weeks. All of this can be more than how much you spend on your own hair care! Each breed also comes with its own unique health issues. German shepherds and other large breeds are prone to hip dysplasia, poodles are known for eye issues such as cataracts, and dachshunds often suffer from back problems.

You’ll want to make sure that you can afford any vet care your pet is going to need. It’s a good idea to have an emergency savings account that can cover any expense that pops up for your dog. Pet insurance is marketed as an option to help you pay for any major surgeries or other catastrophic healthcare costs. Be warned: Pet insurance doesn’t cover routine vet check ups, blood work, or monthly flea, tick, and heartworm medication. If an emergency $15,000 surgery pops up, then yes, it’s nice to have pet insurance, but maybe there’s a better way to prepare for that expense. If you’re paying $50 a month for pet insurance and have a young dog you may be better off adding that $50 to an emergency savings account for your dog. Be your own pet insurance and let that money build up over the lifetime of your dog so that as your dog ages you have a substantial account to help pay for their medical costs. If you keep this money in an account that’s earning interest then you’re not just saving, you’re also getting a return on that money. If you just put the $50 a month towards insurance payments you’re not going to get a return on that.

We think having a dog is amazing, but unfortunately you can’t pay bills with snuggles and licks! We’ll leave you with this last bit of advice: we always tell humans to have three to six months of living expenses saved in an emergency fund in case anything happens. Once you have a dog you need to remember that your fund should not just include your living expenses, it also needs to include three to six months worth of expenses for your dog too.

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