Many dog lovers readily agree that dogs offer more than just companionship; having a dog in your house does a lot to enrich the lives of its occupants. However, this enrichment does come at a cost.
From necessities, such as food and vet visits, to the slightly less necessary but almost unavoidable purchases, including toys, treats and more toys, there are a bunch of things your pooch needs. All these costs add up and sometimes come as a bit of a surprise to new dog owners. So, how much will your new dog cost, and can you afford it?Compare personal loans for buying a dog now
Owning a dog has numerous benefits, but it does involve several one-time and ongoing expenses.
Based on the figures given below, the first year of owning a dog could set you back by up to $2,000 or $4,000. This is over and above the amount you pay for purchasing the dog.
|Purchasing the dog||Up to $25,000, but usually below the $5,000 mark|
|The microchip||$45 to $80|
|Council registration||$125 to $172.50 (depending on whether the dog is desexed or not)|
|Vaccinations||$160 to $200 initial cost, then $65 to $105 annually|
|Prevention for worms, fleas and heartworms||$70 per treatment|
|Desexing||$135 to $340 (depending on the size, age and gender of the dog)|
|Food and bowls||$250 to $700, (depending on the size, breed and quality of the dog food)|
|Toys and treats||$150 to $400|
|Bed and kennel expenses||$140 to $280|
|Collars, leashes and harnesses||$40 to $100|
|Puppy training||$249 to $349 (depending on the size, age and gender of the dog)|
|Grooming||$40 to $105 (depending on size of the dog)|
|Car restraint||$30 and above|
Owning a dog also involves incurring regular annual expenses. The annual expenses for looking after a dog amount to $1,500 approximately. This figure could be higher as well, based on the dog’s breed, size, age and illness or accident history.
The average dog lifespan of a dog can vary significantly, depending on the breed. Small dogs can on average live 15 to 16 years, while with large ones, it could be 10 to 13 years. Giant breeds, such as the Great Dane, could be 8 to 9 years
Some of the recurring expenses may include the following:
- Food: $465 to $1,300 (on average)
- Toys and treats: $250 and above
- Regular worm and flea treatment: $120
- Annual health check-up: $262
- Grooming: $40 to $105 (depending on the breed and the frequency of grooming)
Even using the lowest average figures above, the average annual expense of owning a dog in the first year could be $3,000, followed by $1,500 every subsequent year.
These payments amount to $16,500 over 10 years (including the cost of the dog).
If you purchase pet insurance, for example, with an annual premium of $1,000, this shoots up to $26,500. If you include additional expenses, such as the cost of the dog and visits to the vet for treating injury or illness, you could well be looking at a bare minimum expense of $40,000 to $65,000 over a 10-year period.
Matt's new best friends
Personal loans publisher, Matt bought his two Labrador Retrievers after walking into a pet store.
“I saw them and said I wouldn’t leave without the puppies.” He didn’t! He bought them both for approximately $1,100 each and said he wasn’t overly surprised at the cost. “I purchased both dogs on interest-free finance deals, so we only had to pay a minimal outlay each month.”
He didn’t organise a monthly budget but knew he could manage the ongoing repayments. He also admits that the other upfront costs he hadn’t budgeted for, ie vaccinations, desexing, food and bedding, were quite a shock. “It’s easy to get carried away spoiling them, and after paying back their finance, I now spend between $20 and $55 a week on them, depending on whether or not toys or dog treats are on sale”.
Matt’s advice for would-be pet owners? “Know how much you can afford, and only get a pet if you can manage it.” There are ways you can save by looking into interest-free finance deals and also pet care plans through vets.
For Matt, “You can’t really put a price on the unconditional love you get from a dog… If you can’t afford vets, you can’t afford pets,” he said.
Pet insurance is optional. It is worth noting that vet treatments can be quite expensive, and insurance can help cover you from more substantial expense down the track. However, you need to evaluate the premium, the exclusions in the policy and the coverage on offer before you purchase the plan.
Pet insurance policies typically cover the following:
- Accident only: This policy covers vet expenses in case your pet has an accident. The monthly premium ranges from about $17 to $37 per month.
- Accident and illness: This policy covers vet expenses for accidents and illnesses. The monthly premium will usually range from $30 to $55.
- Comprehensive cover: This policy covers vet costs for accidents and illnesses. Also, it covers routine vaccinations and worming treatments. The monthly premium typically ranges from $39 to $76 per month.
There are some pet insurers such as Southern Cross that provide cover for certain inherited conditions. For further information, you can head to their website. Insurance premiums can also vary depending on the excess you choose or whether you decide to co-pay.
Pet insurance policies can specify specific exclusions. Plans differ, but the following exclusions may apply:
- Illness or injury from pre-existing conditions (including conditions affecting a body part such as the ears, the eyes, etc).
- Vet expenses for elective treatments such as de-sexing, orthodontics and so on.
- Treatment of illness suffered during the waiting period and,
- Treatment of diseases for which a known vaccine exists, e.g. kennel cough.
- Dental cover.
If you feel pet insurance is expensive, if possible, consider setting aside a saving of about $100 a month. This fund could help during times when your pet needs medical treatment for illnesses or injuries.
While the cost of your pet will vary based on the breed, age and size of the animal itself, there are a number of ways to reduce how much you pay, many of which will also improve your pet’s life:
- Adopt your pet or get it from a shelter. Not only are you potentially saving the life of an animal by getting it from a shelter or the RSPCA, the animal will often already be desexed, wormed and vaccinated, meaning you will save yourself the time and money from doing this yourself.
- Register your pet. If your pet ever gets lost, it will be easier to be found if it is registered. You may also have to pay a fine if your pet is found to not be registered.
- Protect your home from pet-related damages. This includes keeping expensive or fragile items out of the reach of your pets, especially if you have a puppy or particularly adventurous animal.
- Make sure your pet is healthy. By giving your pet regular exercise and a good diet, you can help prevent expensive health problems later in life, as well as improve their quality of life in the meantime.
- Perform grooming and training yourself. It can be very expensive to outsource your pet’s grooming and training needs, so take the time to learn how to do it yourself.
As mentioned before, owning a dog can lead to various planned and unplanned expenses that can make a mess of your monthly household budget. In this scenario, you could consider the following alternatives to fund these costs.
- Unsecured personal loans. These loans give you the option of finance, without the need to use an asset as security. As there is no security involved, the interest rates for these loans tend to be higher than their secured counterparts. Compare the terms on offer below from various lenders before selecting the most favourable one.
- Credit cards. If you have a credit card, you could consider putting some of the costs, upfront and ongoing, on the card if you don’t have the ready money. If you don’t plan on paying off the total balance immediately, a low interest rate card might be a better option as the interest charges won’t build as quickly as a card with a higher rate.
- Short-term loans. If you require short-term credit for meeting unexpected expenses, or you have bad credit and can’t access traditional forms of credit, a payday loan might be an option. These loans cover you until your next payday and usually feature more flexible eligibility criteria than other types of loans. Bear in mind the fees and rates are much higher with this type of credit, so work out if you can afford the repayments before you apply.
Around a third of Kiwis have at least one dog, however, owning a dog does not come cheap. In any situation involving your finances, it is best to examine the potential implications of the decision you make. While there are several benefits to having a furry friend at your side, it is essential that you estimate the financial costs of owning a dog before you take the plunge.