Editor’s note: Alex has been researching the costs of having a dog. And I don’t know about you, but I am about to change my mind on this one. Paying £18,000 ($29,000) to have a toddler around for ten to fifteen years? If you are thinking of surprising someone by giving them a dog for Christmas, think again: it is not really a present but a serious commitment and expense.
Getting a dog for yourself or the family is in some ways adjacent to the levels of responsibility as that of having a baby.
This might sound ludicrous at first, but there are several factors that we all need to consider when acquiring a new member of the family, however hairy and smelly or not. There are considerations of how exactly the pet will be a part of the household and also how your home life and your finances will be affected.
Personally I’ve been passionate about dogs since I can remember. In childhood it is always nice to see and stroke a ‘doggy’, but as an adult I have developed respect and an understanding of the animal with their compassion and intelligence.
They have been a part of my life and I’ve always loved being around them.
However, what I cannot claim is that I have ever had to truly look after a dog. I’ve seen what a burden it can be on my parents and other owners but I’ve never held full responsibility over the animal’s lifespan, but on top of what I can advise upon the psychological aspects of caring for a dog, which I will talk about in another post following this one, I’d like to try and breakdown the main financial costs for anyone looking to introduce a dog into their life.
So, what’s the damage?
The average cost of keeping a dog equates to around £18,000 ($29,000) over its life time (up to fourteen years) according to pet specified websites. When we think about what strain a child has on us as parents merely in its infancy, let’s say up until the age of five, the price to pay for a puppy living a full life can run along the same lines in terms of the continuous ‘forking out‘.
The way I see it is pretty straightforward; a good parent provides everything they can for their child, and it is similar if not parallel for a dog. They need your love, your discipline and your earnings.
It is an emotional drain as well, and whilst we can all empathise with the stresses the bottom line remains that responsibility comes at a price and I think we can all agree that insufficient care and food for a child is a terrible thing, and similar should be considered of animal neglect and mistreatment.
So, what are the main costs to expect?
In my mind there are a few main costs of keeping a dog healthy and happy. Aside from additional extras, like toys and any grooming, it is of course food and medical bills that really put a dent in your bank account. There is also the cost of kennels and assistance in care, like for hiring ‘dog walkers’.
Indeed there are many factors other than just food, but from year to year you have to be prepared to ‘dish out’ a lot of cash just to keep the dog alive. Food itself will cost something in the region of £400 annually depending on the size of the dog. The average supermarket prices for a product like 5kg of Bakers Complete run around £17. To break that down once more; a dog of a medium size requires about 150-200g a day for its meal, so you’d be lucky in making the 5kg bag last as much as a month, and that’s before you buy any treats and denture sticks for them. As for much larger dogs like the Saint Bernard one can only expect to as much as treble the cost for dog food and biscuits.
Medical bills can vary from breed to breed, which should be obvious enough. The important thing is to ask the breeders and vets what to expect most in terms of health issues for your dog. For example, deafness can be a common problem for Dalmatians, where there aren’t any other breeds that are as likely to encounter these problems. Respiratory problems can be found in ’squashed faced’ dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs, so breed to breed it really is important that you get all the information you can get on the likely issues during the dog’s life to make sure you are prepared for the worst.
The annual cost of veterinary bills and check-ups vary on a wide scale but the average stands around £200 per year. This does not include injections a puppy will need at regular intervals (from ages of 8 weeks to 6 months) that cost £10-30 a go, and any other more serious problems the animals endures thereafter.
Housing itself for the animal can run up to the thousands when you consider any damage that’s caused by the dog to your property, but then it is also true that unless you have friends or family that can look after the dog properly whilst you’re away then you’ll have to pay for a space at the kennels.
With a growing understanding of our canine friends we begin to realise that kennels are likely to be psychologically harmful for a lot of dogs, but admittedly it is a service we need as people who often have to travel cannot leave the animal alone and unattended. A good kennel will cost £45 a day, with a not so good and unhygienic one costing £15 a day. If you are to travel a lot you must either have the means to pay for this or a reliable friend to look after the dog, otherwise it would be difficult to sustain a good life for it.
Leaving a dog alone and unfed for days is against the law (Animal Welfare Act 2006), and whilst people still do this not many see it as a real crime, but it is. So I urge anyone who wants a dog to consider the well-being of animals to begin with before making the decision, and then consider your own finances and what is truly feasible for you.
All in all the rewards, in my opinion, supersede any hole in appearing in our pockets, and the love you can get from a dog is almost worth all the heartache and the cash-ache. I say this of course with the knowledge that I haven’t brought up and kept a dog myself, nor do I have children, but let’s all agree that whilst a dog is not a human being it is a burden that also brings us joy. I would implore anyone to think of this before grabbing a pooch from the pound as they are not just an accessory. They are our best friends that need us more than we need them.