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The True Costs of Owning a Dog

by Abdul Shaikh
The True Costs of Owning a Dog

You might think that your pet is just an affectionate little furball that’s not all that expensive to take care of. But the truth is, pets can be pricey in the long run. It costs anywhere between $1,000 and $3,500 on average to purchase a dog from a breeder, but if you adopt from an animal shelter or rescue organization instead, it will cost you as little as $300!

The average cost of owning a dog is around $1,500 per year. This covers the costs of food, vet bills, and other expenses associated with keeping your four-legged friend happy and healthy.

However, most people don’t realize that these numbers are just averages. The actual costs for each owner can vary dramatically depending on their medical treatment costs, how often they visit the vet or groomer, what type of food they feed their pup, and location. To combat the rising costs of medical care, more pet owners are investing in pet insurance with providers like Bivvy.

Medical Care

Primary medical care for pets is an undeniable and unavoidable expense. Some people may not see the need to take their four-legged friend in for a yearly checkup, but it’s important because even fish get sick! On average, Americans spend about $638 on annual medical expenses per dog annually according to APPA survey results; however, some pet parents might disagree with these numbers.

When you take your car in for an inspection and find out that additional repairs are to be done, it’s seldom cheap. The same is true when getting a routine veterinary care visit from the vet – sometimes, they identify expensive issues that need addressing. For example, the cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment can be overwhelming, as cancer testing can cost over $1,000. CT scans and MRI’s expenses are also substantial, averaging $1,000 and $2000 to $3000, respectively. 

The APPA survey estimates the average cost for surgical vet visits to be $426 per pet dog. Americans have spent a whopping total of 29 billion dollars on veterinary care in 2019 alone—and that’s just counting animal medical costs! The most common injury among pets is a torn knee ligament. Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy (TPLO) surgery costs to fix your dog’s knee will typically $3,500 to $5,000.

Food & Accessories

Feeding your high-quality dog food will help keep them healthy and happy. But it also comes with an expensive price tag. On average, the cost of providing one dog per month is anywhere from $20 to $60 ($250-$700 annually), but it varies based on factors like size and energy levels. Specialized foods for dogs are typically even more pricey – sometimes costing up to $100 monthly. For larger dogs who weigh upwards of 55 pounds, incorporating premium foods into their diet will set you back around $63 a week. 

Besides food, pet owners tend to spend money on accessories such as leashes, cages, toys, etc. These extra costs combined typically will cost a few hundred dollars additional every year. Different brands can lessen or increase these expenses, depending on your preference. However, unlike cage or toy brands, pet food is not an area where you should take shortcuts as it can lead to serious health issues down the line.

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Medicine & Supplements

An ongoing expense that dog owners typically overlook is the right medicines. Heartworms, fleas, and ticks are just some parasites that dogs can contract from outside or contact other animals. Your veterinarian can point you in the right direction on which medications work best for your climate (i.e., hot versus cold temperatures). 

Although vitamins may be unnecessary if they’re on a balanced diet, an extra supplement like glucosamine may help out too! You’ll probably spend anywhere between $100-$500 per year on these items, depending on the size of your pup. 

Grooming Costs

Grooming a pet can be laborious, especially if you have one of those dogs that never stop shedding! But it doesn’t need to be so difficult and expensive – most grooming needs depend on your dog’s fur coat, which determines how often you’ll visit your groomer.

Short-haired breeds only really need basic upkeep, but for other types, such as poodles who are constantly growing longer fur, it means regular trips back to the salon every couple of months. You’ll also want some good quality tools: brushes from natural materials like boar bristles can be expensive. Between grooming tools and frequent groomer visits, expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $500 a year.

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Pet Insurance

People are gravitating to insurance policies now more than ever due to the substantial costs of medical treatment. Recognizing that pets are part of their families, some progressive employers offer group policies for pet-loving employees. Direct premiums can also be purchased by individual users online without having to go through an insurer. Downloading a policy is easy, with many sites offering remote consultations at any time via email or phone call to purchase coverage on your four-legged family member!

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