My resistance finally broke down and I agreed. We would get a pet, even despite the financial cost.

We decided we wouldn’t buy from a pet store and spend several hundreds or thousands of dollars for a pedigreed pup. Instead, we would adopt a dog from a rescue shelter or from animal control. My wife scoured the internet looking for our dream pup and found her two hours away in Alabama.

We got there just in time — she was on “death row,” meaning that if no one adopted her within a few days, she would be euthanized.

Pet Love at First Sight

One look into the dog’s loving eyes and my wife was sold, even though the pup had scabs all over her body and a hernia in her belly. Nonetheless, we signed some paperwork, paid $15, and named her Daphne on our way home.

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Here's the deal with doggienomics: A purebred pet can cost a fortune — sometimes thousands of dollars. You even get the dog’s lineage papers, much like the aristocracy in England.

On the other hand, adopting a dog from a shelter seems like a sensible economic choice, with the added bonus of saving a life.

We knew there would be some upfront expenses: a crate, dog bowls, food, some chew toys, and a gate to keep her from falling down the stairs. These anticipated expenses didn’t set us back by too much.

That said, if you’ve never owned a pet, you have no idea how expensive your commitment can become.

How Much Does the Vet Cost?

We first took Daphne for a checkup, which cost a few hundred dollars, including vaccinations. On average, routine vet visits cost $210 annually, according to a recent survey from Rover.

Luckily, we found out that Daphne’s hernia was an umbilical hernia and, though it looked concerning, would not cause problems going forward.

Once Daphne was old enough, we had her spayed — another few hundred dollars.

We quickly discovered her scabs were the result of irritation from constant scratching. Our vet suggested a $400 test for environmental allergens. A bit excessive, we thought, but we couldn’t bear to see our puppy suffer.

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Unexpected Mishaps With Pets

It turns out that Daphne had allergies to ragweed and cocklebur, so she was put on a course of allergy shots ($125 for a six-month supply). We knew at this point we were close to a thousand dollars in the red, but the shots helped Daphne enormously.

In addition, Daphne has had some awful luck with her toenails — and no, I don’t mean chipped nail polish. She has broken her toenails on two occasions. The first time she only cracked her nail, so they cut it back and everything was fine — after we spent $50 for what was essentially a doggy pedicure.

The second incident occurred on Easter Sunday. Daphne had to have one nail removed and one cut back. That cost us $200.

Then there are naughty doggy costs: When Daphne was a puppy, she chewed through my wife’s $90 laptop charger.

We weren’t around to see Daphne’s reaction, but I imagine she got a small jolt. She never chewed on an electrical cord again.

Not all pets cost as much as Daphne. However, all dogs can have accidents that cost hundreds — even thousands — of dollars in vet bills. Worse, pets are prone to diseases just like people are. You may even have to decide whether to pay for chemotherapy if your dog is diagnosed with cancer.

Breaking Down the Cost of Pets

“When the dog is part of the family, most will do whatever is needed — even going into debt, to save a beloved pet,” says Stacy J. Miller, a certified financial planner from Bright Investments. “Having $2,000 or more earmarked for the furry family member is highly recommended.” 

Here are some costs to consider before adopting:

  • Adoption fees can range from $50 to $1,000 depending on the breed of dog, age, and rescue/adoption agency.
  • Ongoing routine costs include: food ($200 to $1,000 per year, depending on quality of food and dog breed), supplies, monthly medicines, and annual vet visits ($200 to $800).
  • Additional expenses may include: dog training (at least $50 per session), unanticipated medical expenses ($800 to $1,500 each), and replacing damaged items.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going to get a dog, be prepared by having an emergency fund in case something happens.

Your pet will quickly become a member of your family, and you won’t want to see it suffer. If we could go back in time, would we pick another dog? Definitely not. Daphne is part of our family. She’s kind, smart, and loyal, and she’s worth every penny we’ve paid to keep her healthy. As with many things in life, caring for her has simply cost more money than we anticipated.

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