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Cost of owning a dog

Mon, 01/11/2010 - 10:24am

Many times potential dog owners do not know how much money they are going to spend after the initial purchase of their dog. The first year of a puppy's life will be very expensive no matter what the purchase price is. In order to be prepared for all of these upcoming bills, consider these facts:

Registered Purebreds: If you do not plan to show your dog or compete in Kennel Club competitions, carefully consider whether having a purebred dog is important to you. Purebreds can run  £200-1500, depending on the rarity of the breed.  Sometimes this price includes one set of shots and a deworming. Mixed breeds can be obtained for  £0- £80.   Fees for mixed breeds usually include all shots, a heartworm test, deworming, spay/neuter, and behavioral screening.  Remember that a "registered purebred" does not guarantee health, temperament, or even looks of a dog! A pedigree only ensures that parentage can be documented for kennel club activities.

Health Care: Your new puppy is going to need a vaccinations at eight, twelve, sixteen weeks minimally. Your grown dog needs to be vaccinated yearly.  Failure to give all vaccinations is dangerous to you and to your dog.  Expect to spend about  £150.00 at the veterinarian's during the first four months, and another  £100.00 over the course of the first year. Yearly medical costs for healthy adult dogs can be  £105- £160.00. As dogs near old age, medical costs will increase. Veterinary Pet Insurance is available and is a wise idea to protect against un-expected expenses. 

1. Puppies: Vaccines at 8, 12, & 16 weeks costs ~ £150.00-200.00 (all boosters must be given or puppy will not be protected!). Fecal exam and de-worming costs ~ £30.

2. Dogs at 4-6 mos.: Spay/neuter costs ~ £75.00- £150.00 (Friends of Animals program reduces fee to ~ £25.00-60.00). Rabies vaccine and heartworm check costs ~ £35.  A tail dock and an ear crop can run ~ £250 and requires a lot of risk and extra care (unless you plan to show your dog in conformation, this is not necessary!).

3. Dogs over 1 yr.: Annual set of vaccines, heartworm and stool check costs  ~ £75.00 yearly.   Heart worm medication should be given monthly ~ £40.00-80.00/year.  Antibody titers can be taken in place of yearly vaccines in an adult dog (but they do cost two-three times as much as the vaccines). 

Flea and tick control; Ticks are present regionally, and are at their highest populations when it is hot and humid outside.   Ticks can carry other diseases like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and thus should be take very seriously.  If you have a dog with short hair, you can inspect your dog daily for ticks and remove them yourself.  But, ticks can be most effectively controlled by collars that prevent attachment.  These collars contain Amitraz and are offered under the brand name "Preventic".   However, these collars are dangerous if ingested, so use extreme caution when putting them on dogs under two years of age. 

Two methods of flea control are highly recommended: "Program" (the flea control pill) and spraying the dog's environment with insect growth regulator.  The flea control pill runs  £20- 50 for a 6 mo. supply.  It makes fleas that bite the dog infertile. You must give these pills to all pets in the household, but it is non-toxic and very effective.   A second method of flea control is spraying the house and dog with insect growth regulator (trade name Fenoxycarb, brand name "X-O-TROL") lasts up to a year and costs about  £10.00 to treat 1250 sq. ft.  Insect growth regulators work well because they prevent flea eggs from hatching. However, you must wash the dog's bed, vacuum, and move furniture to spray in all dark corners. Other flea control products with only pyrethrins and permethrins only kill the adult fleas and do not prevent eggs from hatching; in other words, every time you think you've killed fleas there's still a legacy of eggs waiting to hatch. Any method you choose to control fleas on your pet and in your house may have to be supplemented with a product to treat the yard depending on how often your pet is outside and how many areas are ideal for flea habitation (larva like cool, dark places like pine straw beds). 

Older dogs: special diets, medications, housing accommodations may change (i.e. the dog may be no longer being able to climb stairs). Anal gland expression ( £10) and dental scaling ( £100) may be necessary.

Emergencies: Set aside some money for unexpected emergencies; a broken leg, a toothache, or a snake bite can run anywhere from  £50- £1000. Again, consider veterinary pet insurance.  There are some companies, like Veterinary Pet Insurance,  that even cover routine vaccinations and flea medication, in addition to emergencies. 

Food: The amount of food required varies greatly with the age and size of the dog. Many dogs require premium quality food due to food allergies, preservative sensitivity, or to avoid high percentages of fat or protein. Expect food costs to increase as dog ages. 20 lb. of premium quality dry food runs about  £20.00. A large dog may eat up to six cups of food a day. Feeding higher quality food will mean the dog will need to eat less to feel satisfied. Low quality food contains ingredients like animal by-products (organs) and animal digest (stomach and its contents) and lots of filler. High quality foods contain chicken or lamb as primary ingredients.

Grooming: Trimming is required on a regular basis for all breeds. Breeds like poodles and cocker spaniels have to be clipped. Short coated dogs can be brushed once a week, long coated dogs twice a week, and thick coated dogs every other day. Only a few dogs like Poodles, Bichon Frise, and the Chinese Crested do not shed at all. and All other lengths of coats will shed;. Short and long coated dogs shed a lot of fine hair. Thick coated dogs shed in tufts. Bathing your dog regularly will help reduce shedding. Dogs should be bathed once every 3-4 weeks, depending on dirtiness and care should be taken not to dry out the skin. Toenails need to be clipped once a month, and some breeds like the Cocker Spaniel require regular ear cleaning.

Pet sitting / boarding fees: Book ahead for vacations and check kenneling requirements. Most kennels require proof of all vaccines and additionally a vaccine for kennel cough. Kenneling runs ~ £12.00/day/pet. In-home pet sitting runs  £12-15/visit and is more economical for multiple pet households.