Dogs are known to lower stress and teach families lessons in responsibility — but dog ownership demands fiscal responsibility, too.
Friday is National Dog Day, celebrating man’s best friend and encouraging people to adopt. With that in mind, it might be helpful to know that the first year of dog ownership will cost anywhere from $1,314 for smaller dogs up to $1,843 for the largest breeds, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That includes one-time expenses such as spaying, neutering, training, initial medical fees and a crate.
After the first year, ASPCA figures a dog’s annual cost at anywhere from $580 for smaller dogs to $875 for big breeds, which gobble more food. Meanwhile, Rover.com, a Seattle-based pet-sitting website, figures the yearly average at $2,858 factoring in pet sitting ($25 per night), dog training ($40 per hour), teeth cleaning (at least $400) and emergency vet bills (from zero to more than $3,000).
“Unexpected veterinary bills are the most common, and most costly, variables in dog ownership,” said Kathryn Lisko, education specialist at Rover.com. Healthy habits like regular exercise and teeth brushing can curb those expenses, but dog owners need to be prepared.
Some breeds are more disposed toward those emergencies than others. A PetBreeds.com study of the most medically expensive dog breeds showed the top five — Bernese mountain dogs, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, English cocker spaniels and Doberman pinschers — needing more than $1,000 a year in care, with the Bernese mountain dog topping the list at an average of $1,361.
Adopting a mixed-breed dog can limit medical costs, said Julie Meadows, a veterinarian and assistant professor at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, as long as both parents aren’t from breeds known for issues. Her solutions to limit medical costs: Buy pet insurance, which ASPCA figures at $225 per year, and take dogs in for annual checkups.
“We know from both human medicine and veterinary experience that preventative health care and early intervention decrease all other expenditures,” Meadows said. “We prevent heartworm disease, we find tumors when they’re small and can be removed with relatively minor surgeries instead of a huge excision or amputation.”
How to cut pet care costs
Get regular checkups. It’s less expensive to prevent illness, or catch it early, than to treat it later.
Brush those teeth. Dental disease can lead to complications with a dog’s heart and kidneys. Use toothpaste made for dogs.
Keep fleas and ticks at bay. Infestations can cause everything from lingering skin irritation to life-threatening illness. ASPCA recommends a topical flea and tick solution designed for dogs.
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