According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), pet owners spend over $70 billion on pet expenses annually. Costs include food ($30+ billion), supplies ($16+ billion) and vet care ($18+ billion). However, the total cost of pet housing and care often includes unforeseen expenses or hidden costs of pet ownership that can eat into your household budget, not even including the stuff you can list off the top of your head.
If you plan to adopt a dog, you’ll want to figure out the total investment before making your final decision so that you can approach it with as much responsibility as possible. This information shouldn’t be a deterrence — if you’re ready, you’re ready — but if any of it makes you feel nervous, you might reconsider if the time is right to adopt a new pup. After all, like any member of your family, dogs can increase your overhead significantly, thus, putting a strain on your finances. If you don’t prepare for those extra costs, there might be more heartbreak in the future.
Insurance: Coverage for Your Pet
From an insurance perspective, your dog is viewed as a risk — not a fluffy friend — no matter how much you disagree. Carriers weigh the potential of your dog to destroy property or attack a human/animal, both of which could potentially end in a lawsuit. As a result, caring for a dog can raise the cost of living through increased insurance premiums, not including if you rent, and your landlord wishes to raise the monthly rent or impose a higher pet fee.
There are two types of insurance that having a dog will affect:
1. Homeowners/Renters Insurance
According to the CDC, dog bites account for 4.7 million injuries annually. Providers compensate for these injuries by adding a pet clause in your insurance policy. How much your plan increases depends on several factors, including the dog breed and whether you own or rent your house.
2. Dog Insurance
Even if you have protection under your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, you may want to take out additional coverage for your pet. Pet insurance covers costs associated with illness and injuries. Most monthly pet insurance premiums range from $25 to $75 and give you $5,000 to $30,000 of annual coverage.
Moving: Transporting Your Dog
If you are about to embark on an extended move with your pet, you need to consider your dog’s comfort and safety. You also need to consider expenses such as food, vaccination, dog tags, and any fees that the moving company may charge you to move your dog. Your cost breakdown to move your pet may look something like this:
Within the U.S.
- Travel crate: $25-$571.
- Vaccination and checkup: $50 – $100.
- Tags & leash: $5-$20.
- Moving company fee: varies by company (Avg. $1,200-$5,000).
- Kennel (if necessary): $25-$85 per night.
Meanwhile, international relocation can be grueling on a pet. While airlines make dog travel as comfortable as possible, there is more that you can do as the owner to ensure the experience is as positive of one as possible — but that includes more expenses. When you move internationally, you need to account for costs that you may not incur moving within the United States or your home country. Overall, your expenses may look similar to this:
- Airline approved travel crate: $25-$571.
- Pet passport: $38-$1,110
- Medical (blood test, vaccination, microchipping, checkup): $300
- Plane fee: $100-$200
- Customs fees: varies by country
- Quarantine (where applicable): varies by country
Keep in mind that several variables determine how much it will cost to transport your pet. Naturally, larger pets will cost more because of the space they take up and the amount of food they eat.
Vacations: To Kennel or Not to Kennel
If you go on vacation, you will incur a daily dog expense, whether you take your pet with you or leave them behind. For instance, if you keep your dog at home, you will likely have to hire a dog sitter. A friend or relative may be willing to do it for free, but you will probably want to provide some compensation nonetheless.
You can keep your dog in a kennel while you are away, but kennel costs vary by location and service. The national average cost of a kennel per night is $25 to $85, though this typically comes with an all-inclusive package that incorporates walks/activities, food, bathing, a crate/pad, and other standard services.
If you choose to take your dog with you, the best way to figure costs is to break them down per day. Essentially, how much will it cost to feed and house your dog? You may also want to factor in hotel costs, a pre-trip visit to the vet, and any extra supplies, such as a flea collar, leash, dog-tag, or dog bowl. If you plan on going camping with your dog, add a camping bed or dog tent to your list of supplies to ensure everyone is comfortable.
Additional Pet Cost Considerations
There are a few extra hidden costs that you may want to work into your budget. For example, what are the living arrangements once your pet comes home? If you wish to give your dog more than just the cold floor to sleep on, you may want to invest in a rugged but comfortable dog bed.
Will your dog be outside part of the time? If so, consider buying a durable dog-house with plenty of room. If you can’t spend the time needed to house-train your dog, then you may want to fork over the extra cash to send them to a trainer. Having your dog professionally trained can save you money in stained carpets and the frustration of doing it yourself.
Finally, there are some baseline costs, such as spaying/neutering your dog, breeding costs, and breed-specific health issues. Your pet may end up with a chronic illness that is common to its breed. Modern medicine has also extended the life of dogs by five to 10 years (that’s human years), so expect to take care of your dog for a more extended period.
If you plan to bring home a puppy, then do so responsibly. Make sure you have the time, resources, facilities, and budget to give it a proper home. Doing so will give your dog a lifetime of fulfillment and happiness. It will bring you and your family a bundle of joy as well!
– Noah Rue