Let me preface this conversation with the admission that having a dog is pretty awesome. A dog provides your household with a family member who will show complete loyalty, selflessness, and entertainment. With that being said, having a dog can be expensive. We expose these expenses and give some suggestions for cost savings associated with having a dog.
After graduating college and securing a job, many of my friends decided to get a puppy. My wife and I managed to hold off for a year before we got our German Shepherd Ekko. At the time, I was a graduate student and my wife was a teacher. The added expense of this cute, little huge puppy soon began to challenge our limited budget.
According to the ASPCA, the cost of dog ownership can average between $1,314 – $1,843 per year!
Our dog Ekko exceeded this amount, despite our best efforts, due to some health concerns combined with multiple vet visits. In addition, we travel frequently and boarding during our trips got pretty expensive.
We have also had to pay an extra pet fee/deposit to keep a dog at our rented house. We were limited when looking for a place to rent because many landlords do not allow pets.
Naturally, we began to seek out ways to save money while being a dog owner.
Cutting the Costs of Dog Ownership
- Find a rural vet. We originally took Ekko to a popular vet in town and realized after a couple of visits that we were spending an exorbitant amount of money! We had a friend recommend a vet in a small country town who had a great facility and loves dogs. He also charged a fraction of what the vet in town charged, and we are confident that the quality remained high.
- Purchase monthly flea/tick/heart-worm medication in large quantities so that you get rebates. Also consider buying online for maximum savings. For example, our vet often offers a $50.00 rebate if a box of heart-worm medication is purchased with a box of flea/tick medication.
- Sign up for emails from your local pet stores to receive coupons and maximize your savings. If possible, sign up for the pet store’s point system to earn extra coupons.
- Save when you travel. Pet boarding typically costs anywhere from $25 to $50 per day depending on the quality of the facility and the services offered. Instead of boarding your dog, consider a pet exchange. A pet exchange is when you drop off your dog(s) with a host family while on vacation. In return, you host their dog(s) while they go on vacation. This way you don’t spend any money, and your dog typically has a better experience.
- Save on dog grooming by frequenting self-service dog wash facilities or use your own bathtub. If you are completely unable to wash your over-sized, energetic pup due to the risk of flooding your bathroom (not that we’d have any experience with this) at least shop around for the best price and ask about store coupons/rebates.
- If you can’t afford large vet bill emergencies, get pet insurance. There are many scams out there so we recommend researching pet insurance through the ASPCA.
Do you have any cost-saving recommendations for Fido? How expensive has your dog been? Share your experiences below in the comments section.