“How much is that doggie in the window (arf, arf)
The one with the waggley tail. . . “
Patti Page made that novelty song a hit back in the 1950s. But today, she might be wiser to ask: How much are the actual costs of that doggie in the window?
Now, don’t get me wrong. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my two Belgium sheepdogs, Carlos Santana and Sammie. However, most people don’t think about the actual cost of owning a pet, and they tend to make emotional decisions when choosing a pet. (People do that with investments, too, but that’s another blog). Reality is, though, that the cost of owning a 50-pound dog throughout its 14-year lifespan could add up to the price of a down payment on a house or even a college education. Doggone it!
In “The Cost of Owning a Dog,” an article on peteducation.com, the writer, who’s a veterinarian, aims to educate potential dog owners about how pricey dogs can be. He gives low, medium, and high costs associated with owning a mid-size dog. He starts with the initial purchase price and breaks down the costs year-to-year over a 14-year life span. Costs include visits to the vet, food, supplies, and boarding.
Here are the total estimated costs for a 50-pound dog throughout its 14-year lifetime:
- Low estimate: $4,242
- Medium estimate: $12,468
- High estimate: $38,905
I should mention that the writer lives in the mid-west; if you live in an expensive city like New York or Los Angeles, expect the costs to be even higher. Of course, most of us won’t end up spending $40,000, but some might spend even more. As your dog ages, it’s not uncommon that it could develop a hip problem, allergies, or some other illness. This veterinarian wrote that he routinely saw clients who spent over $2,000 on a single veterinary problem. Sure, having pet insurance can reduce your out-of-pocket costs, but you’ll pay up to $30 a month for it. And like human insurance, you’ll have deductibles and co-pays.
One thing, however, that was not factored into the cost analysis (most likely because you can’t place a value on it), is to me the single most important item on the ledger: your time. Plain and simple: dogs take a lot of time. Walking. Feeding. Cleaning up after. Home repairs. Training. And if you’re not willing to spend a significant portion of your free time with your dog, you may want to consider a goldfish instead. It’s just not fair to the dog.
Make no bones about it (I couldn’t resist), owning a dog can add up to big investment dollars. Before putting your finances at risk, make sure that you can truly afford a dog. And if you’re willing and able to commit your time and money to a dog, the dividends are substantial. Like Josh Billings said: “A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself.”