How much is that doggie in the window? Way more than most people think

As a veterinary professional, you’ve probably got a better handle than most on the cost of owning a dog. Because it turns out that most Americans don’t have a clue.

According to a new survey of 1,500 US adults by the dog-walking app Rover, most people think that getting a dog is going to cost them between $26 and $75 a month.

Not hardly. The real figure is closer to $150.

“When most people get a dog, they think of basic expenses,” Andrea Woroch, personal finance expert and Dog People Panel member told CNBC. “But they overlook those reoccurring expenses that add up.” Woroch uses her goldendoodle as an example: Woroch has to fork over $90 to her groomer every few months. “Their hair grows really long and it gets matted,” she says.

And that’s just not the kind of expense most prospective pet owners take into consideration when budgeting for a dog.

The one-time costs alone can induce sticker shock:

Adoption fees can run as high as $600. Puppy vaccinations are anywhere from $75 to $100. A sturdy crate and a comfortable bed? $25 to $250. Collar and leash? $6 to $50.

Add in other veterinary services, such as spay or neuter surgery ($200 to $800), flea- and tick-prevention products ($40 to $200), and heartworm medication ($24 to $120), and just getting a new doggie out of that window and into your home can average out to as much as $1,487.

Then come the ongoing monthly expenses:

  • Food ($40 to $60)
  • Toys ($10)
  • Treats ($6)
  • Poop bags ($6 to $20)
  • Ongoing flea- and tick-prevention products and heartworm medication ($64 to $320)

All of which averages out to $153 a month.

As for ongoing medical expenses, the survey budgets $250 for an annual exam, and also assumes that most pet owners will want to take out pet insurance to help with larger, less routine expenses, at an average cost of $360 to $600 a year.

The survey also includes a category for potential pet expenses:

  • Emergency veterinary bills ($500 to $1,000)
  • Dog training ($240 to $600)
  • Pet sitting ($300 at $30 a night)
  • Grooming ($30 to $100)
  • Apartment pet deposit ($200 to $600)

It’s right around in here that the survey starts to get a little fuzzy in the math department, and there’s definitely some bleed between the categories (toys appear in the survey as both a one-time expense and as a monthly cost, whereas vaccinations appear as a one-time expense but not as an ongoing expense). And while the survey assumes most pet owners will want pet insurance, only 10% of dog owners actually have pet insurance.

So, take it with a grain of salt when the survey concludes that when you add up all those expenses—real, potential, and imagined—the annual cost of getting and owning a dog can top out at $3,370.

You might ask how a prospective pet owner might plan to pay for all that.

According to the survey: By giving stuff up. In order to afford a dog, 28% of respondents said they’d give up alcohol, 25% would give up food delivery, and 20% said they’d give up coffee.

Interestingly, no one mentioned giving up professional dog-walking services.

Photo credit: © iStock/Citysqwirl

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