I’ll never forget my first childhood pet. I desperately wanted a cat, and so I saved my allowance and scrounged around for quarters under couch cushions (which I’m now convinced my dad was putting there on purpose – whose couch has that many quarters in it?). Every Sunday my father and I would sit down at the dining room table and I would empty out my piggy bank. We would carefully count out all my change, with the understanding that once I had saved up enough I would finally be able to get a cat. My cat. This went on for several months until one day I arrived home from school to find a large bag of cat food sitting in the entry to our house. Just as I was exclaiming how silly it was to buy cat food when we don’t even have a cat, the cutest little fuzzball peeked out from behind my dad’s legs. It remains one of the sweetest memories of my childhood.
Adopting any pet is a huge responsibility, and it’s undeniable that part of that responsibility is financial. As a single 20-something it was important to me that I made sure I could afford the ups and downs of pet ownership prior to adopting Gatsby. I spent several months doing research on the costs associated with owning a puppy, and cobbled together a ‘puppy budget’ based on tidbits found all over the internet. I’ve learned a thing or two about owning a dog in the months that have followed, and I thought I’d share with you all a more accurate budget taking into account everything I’ve learnt thus far.
Firstly; the dogs themselves come with price tags.
Purebred dogs can range in the thousands of dollars and rarely include the costs of spaying or neutering as well as costs of initial injections. If you do want to purchase a purebred dog, please do your research and buy from a reputable local breeder – never ever buy a dog from a pet store. Try to visit the breeders home and see where and how the dogs are being kept prior to bringing your pup home.
Adopting a dog is not only less expensive, it’s also helping an unwanted dog find a loving home. There are hundreds of thousands of dogs all across North America (and, indeed, the world) who need caring families. Many of these pups are sent to kill shelters where adoption could be their only chance at life. You can browse adoptable dogs on websites like www.petfinder.com or by visiting your local SPCA shelter. Often the cost of adopting a dog is under $1000 and it generally includes some initial medical care and spaying or neutering.
With all this said and done, you can tell which way I would lean. Adopting a dog is better for everyone involved, but purchasing a purebred dog can be wonderful when done carefully and considerately.
Here are the costs associated with adopting Gatsby.
First Time Costs
Gatsby’s adoption cost: $550
(Included airfare to Vancouver, Crate, Microchipping, Health Certificate, First Vaccinations and Neutering.)
Pet Deposit for my apartment: $500
(Anticipate this being half of your monthly rent.)
First Time Supplies: approximately $1200
(To see what I purchased when I first adopted Gatsby, check out our “Puppy Essentials” posts.)
Registration with the city: $30/year
(Don’t forget the important step of registering your dog with your city. Often there is a discount for dogs who are spayed or neutered.)
Pet Insurance: $44/month
(We use TruPanion for our pet insurance. You can choose a different monthly payment based on your deductible – I went with a $500 deductible. The earlier you register your pet for insurance, the lower your monthly payments will be.)
Food: $26/month – $312/year
(We purchase PetCurean’s NOW Fresh dry food. A 25b bag costs around $80 and lasts us three months - remember to anticipate this cost getting higher as your puppy grows.)
Dental Chews: $20/month – $240/year
Insurance: $44/month – $528/year
City Registration: $30/year
Yearly Checkup and Booster Vaccinations: $150
(Vets charge different prices depending on where you go. Ours is on the pricier side but makes up for it with a convenient location and staff that Gatsby loves. If cost is a factor for you, don’t be afraid to ask for quotes and shop around to different vets in your area.)
Treats and Toys: $25/month – $300/year
(I spend an average of $25 a month on treats and toys for Gatsby – he is one spoiled pup! This number varies month to month but plan for a small amount going towards things like toys, treats and replacement leashes/collars as things are worn out or consumed over time)
Total First Time Adoption Costs for Gatsby: $2324
Total Yearly Costs for owning Gatsby: $1560
*Don’t forget to consider the cost of an emergency. I’d recommend keeping a separate reserve of savings should any health issues arise.
This post was first published on April 26th, 2015.