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Financial Planning for Millennials

How much will it really cost you to own a dog?

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Just like a house, owning a dog is a long term commitment and investment. However, it has become common for many people, namely in the Millennial generation, to own a pet before they own a house or have children. Moreover, Adweek recently reported that 44 percent of Millennials polled see their furry friends as practice for having kids!

CNBC recently reported that people drastically underestimate the cost of owning a dog over its lifetime. Owning a dog can be seven times more costly than what people estimate.

With that being said, owning a dog is seen as a way to feel out another huge responsibility, so the decision to own one should not be taken lightly. Before getting lost in the puppy eyes of dog ownership, important financial factors and responsibilities need to be carefully and seriously considered.

Do you have enough saved to cover these up-front, one-time costs?

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Initial Medical Exam: The cost of your first vet visit depends on where you live. According to the AKC Pet Insurance, your first vet visit can cost $770 or more.

Spay/Neuter: At a private veterinarian clinic, it can cost you up to $200 upfront (less if at a low-cost clinic) and multiple days of recovery in the cone for your dog.

Adoption: Adoption fees can range from $25 to $500 depending on the dog’s age, the breed, whether it has been transferred from other shelters, pre-existing medical conditions, and so on.

Breeder: If you are in the market for a specific breed, don’t be surprised to see starting prices at $1,500 and up. Depending on the breed, its demand, and whether it is AKC, the price can vary greatly. Keep in mind that what you pay to a breeder doesn’t cover any of the extras, such as vaccinations or spay/neuter.

Collar & Leash: This is a relatively minor expense, ranging from about $30 for both and up, but it is important to ensure your dog is identifiable in case he ends up lost and for training purposes.

Microchip: According to VetInfo, “the average costs of a dog microchip are between $20 and $50, but this doesn’t include the veterinary procedure of placing the chip. The procedure can cost an additional $50 to $100.”

Crate: Depending on the size of your new furry friend and the quality of the crate, this can also vary greatly from $50 and upward.

Training: Prices range greatly depending on the location and training program. At PetSmart, individual training classes start at $119 or buy their bundled package for $199 per dog.

Are you financially ready to commit to these on-going, long-term expenses?

Check-Ups & Emergency Visits: Dogs of all breeds need routine check-ups, but certain ones have various conditions that need closer monitoring. If your dog’s health insurance plan doesn’t cover emergencies, it can cost you up to $1,000 out of pocket at minimum.

Food: On average annually, your dog food budget may start from $100 and up depending on the type and quality of food you provide. If you feed your dog organic food, the annual cost may be even greater. This is not even considering the various treats you provide.

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Toys: Depending on the type of toy you provide and the brand, I’ve seen dog toys range from a few bucks to over hundreds of dollars.This is an ongoing cost because chances are your dog will destroy or outgrow a good number of them.

Boarding & Pet Sitting: Depending on the services offered and the location, the average cost per day starts at $20 and goes up from there. This adds up significantly throughout the year if you travel often for long periods of time. A pet sitter’s fees on average start at $40 per hour depending; some may charge overnight fees as well.

Pet Grooming: Depending on the length of your dog’s coat and your comfort level with grooming, you may want to look into professional grooming services, which can include washing, hair and nail trimming, and brushing for about $20 for puppies and up to $50 or more for larger, furrier breeds.

Health Insurance: Just like your own health insurance, this can range quite a bit based on the insurance company, your dog’s breed and size, where you live, and coverage options you choose. On average, the annual cost for dog insurance is $473 per year or more for just accident and illness coverage. Full coverage may cost you a greater amount.

Medications: According to PetMD, roughly 300 drugs are currently approved by the FDA for use in what they call “companion animals” (dogs, cats, and horses). Vaccinations, heartworm and flea prevention products are usually included in health insurance plans; if not, they can each range from $20 to $150. Also, if your dog’s breed is prone to a certain condition or if you adopted and there are certain issues that may require a prescription, the cost can vary greatly.

To avoid sticker-shock, be prepared to pay $2,000 or more in upfront costs to buy your puppy and anticipate average annual costs starting at $3,000. If the average lifespan of a dog is 10-15 years, you can anticipate paying at least $32,000 for the entire lifespan of your dog. If you plan to have more than one dog, it will cost you even more.

Bottom-line:

The sheer joy that a dog brings can’t be measured in dollars, but getting lost in the puppy eyes can cost you greatly if you are not prepared for the financial responsibilities associated with dog ownership over the course of their lifetime. Seriously examine your current financial situation and determine whether you will be able to absorb the additional monthly expenses of dog ownership in your current budget.


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This data is for informational purposes only and Capital Benchmark Partners, LLC ("CBP") is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned nor endorses them. CBP is not endorsed by any third party entities for their inclusion in this article nor is compensated for mentioning them. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but the accuracy of the information cannot be guaranteed.

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