Monday, March 7, 2011

How Much is That Doggy in the Window?

Our new Dog Fact in our FLASH on the Home Page reads: The average guardian spends over $1,000 per year caring for their dog.

For most of us, we don't even think about the amount of money that goes into caring for our dogs. Our dogs are lucky enough to be members of our families and are treating accordingly. Not all dogs live this wonderful life, though.

Others are purchased or adopted by people who don't think past the initial cost of owning a dog. I hear over and over and over "I didn't realize how expensive it would be!"; "She needs (blank medical), but there's no way we can afford it!"; "I don't have the money to spay her or to feed this litter of puppies. She just keeps having them." I will spare you the horror stories we hear with the last sentence. They aren't humane or pretty.

I will admit that I didn't think much about how much owning a dog would be. We got Lily at the shelter for $200. That included her spay, microchip, shots, leash, collar and a bag of dog food. Quite the bargain, I would later find out. Lily is a blue fawn (color, not a breed or type) American Staffordshire Terrier. At least, that's what she was listed as at the shelter but we have our doubts. For starters, she weighs 80 pounds. It's not fat. It's muscle. She's at least 20 pounds too big for that breed. Her body is far too long and her legs too tall to be considered APBT or AmStaff. The vet sees more Mastiff in her than anything. My dad sees some Lab. But puppies that look like her are sold all over the internet as "rare" pit bull puppies. They go for $200 each - without any shots or the extras Lily came with.

I thought it would be fun to break down how much we spend on Lily. We'll start with the puppy. $200 adoption fee.

We put Lily through training right away - two classes back to back (Beginner and Intermediate) to the tune of $240 total. This was more for us than for her. We needed to be taught how to effectively communicate with a dog. Thank you, J9sK9s.

We fed her a raw diet because it turned out that she had bad allergies thanks to her breeding and color. I knew that blues had allergies from my research before we got a dog. She has defied even those. Her food costs us $60 a week. Feeding her cheap kibble is not an option. That increases our monthly vet bills.

Her medication runs $50 a month. This is too keep her scratching to an acceptable level. Poor kibble and no meds means she scratches and whines non-stop throughout the day. Not acceptable. So we fork that over.

Our average monthly vet bill runs $200. That's on a good month. She's prone to skin infections because of her coloring and allergies. On months that we have to treat the infections, it can run double to triple that cost. We have an emergency fund set aside for her that we keep at about $1000. That gets us through the months when we run high on medical, but that also has to be replenished on the months after we've dipped into it for a bad month.

Lily requires toys. All dogs should have toys. Dogs don't dig and bark and chew because they are bad. They do those things because they are BORED. No squeaky toy to chew on? No problem. Your leather shoe tastes yummy and keeps them occupied. If they're outside, they'll dig the garden up for fun. They have to occupy themselves in some way. Because of her breed, Lily can be tough on toys. She loves a game of tug with her doggy friends, but they can demolish the toys quickly. Indestructible? That only slows them down. It will last five minutes instead of five seconds. We have a monthly toy budget of $40.

We feed Lily raw marrow bones in the yard once a week to clean her teeth. It's a great workout for her jaw and it keeps her occupied for awhile. There are many benefits to feeding a raw bone. We get a package of them for $15. That lasts us a month.

So, for Lily's first year of life, we spent...

Adoption $200
Training $240
Food $3120
Medicine $600
Vet $2400
Toys $480
Bones $180
TOTAL $7220

That's just for one year. It also doesn't include everything (leashes, collars, puppy parties, beds, crate). In the three years of her life, we have spent roughly $21,660!


Are we crazy? No (well, maybe, but that's a separate issue). We spend what we have so that she can enjoy her life. We didn't adopt her thinking this would be the cost, but it is. We want her to live a long, healthy, happy life so we pay it.

She's gone from this...

To this...

To this...

Healthy (as she can be) and happy. Totally worth the money.

What about you - how much do you spend on your dog?


  1. Hahaha! Oh Lily!! She's such a cutie patootie!

  2. She is totally worth it, of my gosh! No one can argue, can they!