Considering a Dog for Christmas? Consider the costs!
Everyone knows we love our dogs and everyone loves foufou puppies. We always have. We have raised dalmatians, then weimeraners and now an english mastiff and newfoundland. At one point we even had five dogs! However, dogs are not inexpensive.
First there is the purchase of the dog. Which you can argue that dogs are available for free but lets assume you have either paid for a dog through a breeder or through a rescue agency. Typically a rescue dog will cost around $450. That seems like a really steep cost but that is peanuts compared to everything else. In our case though we purchased purebred dogs at $1,000 each. Crazy I know but I was not as involved with rescues back then as I am now. Any future pets will be rescue pets.
Just to use my dogs as a case study and we will exclude the purchase fees.
Our newfoundland is relatively inexpensive. Her costs are pretty much just food and treats. She isn’t even really too interested in toys. Her favorite play things are the sticks she finds in the yard. But food and treats are expensive for giant breed dogs. Sleeps on moving blankets because she chews apart every pillow or mattress we ever get her. However, we have spent about $400 on mattresses and pillows and then $100 on moving blankets so far in her lifetime. Xena was apparently from a puppy mill and very sickly when we first got her. We couldn’t send her back though – what kind of future would she have had – $400 in vet bills.
Our english mastiff is very expensive. First she developed joint issues at 6 months old and needed cruciate surgery. Between the surgeries, countless xrays up to and afterwards because of repeat injuries we have paid about $3,000 so far (they are both three years old). Now she also has hip issues – monthly medication costs $150. Constant hotspots – monthly benadryl and cleansing solutions $25. Monthly toys $20 (inexpensive considering the alternative of ripping apart the house). Because of her joint issues we need to keep her resting on mattresses (not dog pillows) and she sleeps on two crib mattresses all encased together. I sew the coverings. She chews them apart every couple months so with fabric and new mattresses (cheapest I can find) – $130 every two months.
Two spayings – $250 each (fees are by weight)
Routine medical care – $200 per year.
Flea/Tick/Heartworm treatments – $400 per year.
And because we work very long hours and they cannot be cooped up in the kennel all day long (in the basement – not outside) – they get fed, walked, played with etc… every single day – $200 per month.
Last but not least – food and treats – $75 per month.
Now I am sure I have not captured everything but let’s break the costs down monthly for a three year period:
Now why am I going into all this with you? Dogs cost money. In some cases lots of money. People often underestimate the cost and find they can no longer keep the pets they love and adore. Please understand that as cute and adorable as they are – they take a commitment like a family member. Granted our costs are higher than some but there are others whose costs are much higher than ours. It is all relative. But it is never free to own a pet. Obviously costs are much less if your dogs don’t keep needing surgeries. But how would you know that when you get a dog? We certainly didn’t.
Now I used to work close enough to home to run home at lunch and take care of the dogs. I no longer have that luxury. I don’t even buy them expensive dog food – though I should buy them much better food than what they do eat.
If you are considering getting a dog for your family over the holidays – please understand and research costs that you can expect based on your family, lifestyle, breed specific conditions etc… Shelters are not the answer when you can no longer afford your pet who has become a family member and rescues can only help so much. Sadly many wonderful dogs end up euthanized because a new home has not been found quickly enough.
If you are considering a pet – please look to shelters and rescue groups first. There are so many animals that need homes. In most cases the animals have done nothing wrong – families have lost homes or jobs; tornadoes or other natural disasters have displaced them; and others have suffered neglect and/or abuse. And do not shy away from Pitbulls. Do your research and learn just how wonderful that breed really is. It is sad that they have “earned” a bad reputation – a deadly reputation – because of humans. Only humans can reverse that fear and return them to their previous perception – loyal, nanny dogs and a symbol for the nation! And rescuing a dog – saves 2! It saves the dog you rescued but also opens up a spot to save another.
My kids want another dog for Christmas. Though their hearts (and ours) have plenty of room for more. It is not realistic. However, I do support rescue causes as much as I possibly can. I am happy to sponsor a special dog when I can – that will have to be enough for now.