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Can You Truly Afford to Own a Dog?

The cost of owning a dog could add up to the price of a down payment on a house or even a college education.

“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.” 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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