Can You Afford to Keep Your Dog?

As most of you know, we got Frankie 1 month after we got married. He was so cute, and so small! In the beginning, he was quite a handful, as all puppies are. We really had no intentions of getting a puppy; we were looking to adopt a dog who was at least 1 or 2 years old. But Frankie was so dang cute and he was available without all the hoopla of home visits and large adoption fees. And (we thought) he didn’t shed.

Later on, I had reached my breaking point and felt as though we couldn’t handle him anymore. We were losing sleep, we were sleeping separately, potty training was a nightmare, he was constantly crying, and neighbors complained about his barking. You guys told me to give it more time, and I found that Frankie was certainly part of our family. Even our parents and my grandparents loved him. He’s got so much character and he’s super smart. He knows sit, stay, lay down, roll over, and even pretends to “die” when we shoot him with our finger gun. Not to mention he sings sometimes. He’s a great walking/jogging buddy, even with that scare we had a few weeks ago where the dog tag broke off and he got loose from the leash.

Some people wondered why we got a dog even with our tight finances. I replied that it’s not that expensive to have a dog, because really it isn’t. Once you find a vet who doesn’t overcharge you for vaccinations (we found that ours certainly was) and once you find deals on toys and food, it’s not an expensive commitment at all. Frank eats about a cup – a cup and a half of food everyday from a 5 pound natural food bag from Natural Balance. Include some Natural Balance treats and we probably only spend about $20-$30 on him a month. We recently spent about $50 to get him neutered and get pain medication. He’s not due for his next vaccination until this coming June, which will be about $15 at the Golden State Animal Society (would’ve cost $62.50 if we went to our local vet).

One thing we occasionally “splurge” on is taking him to doggy day care. I know how it feels to be an only child sometimes, and it can get lonely. Same holds true with dogs, especially when their owners are busy or not there. We found a very nice doggy day care and kennel not far from us that Frankie loves. He gets to play with other dogs, and burn that energy he usually has because he has a patio and not a yard at home. That’s $25/day, so we take him sometimes when we need a break. When we go out of town, or need a longer break, we take him there to stay overnight for $31.50/night. We took him when we went to Vegas for the weekend, and he had so much fun.

We may be spending money on training sessions next. Since Frankie is mixed with Jack Russell Terrier (I’m starting to believe there’s little to no Chihuahua in him from his personality to his size), he can be quite the defiant dog. He’s potty trained but lately has been pretending he doesn’t know where to go. He can be very bossy to me and tries to make me play with him. He’ll bark and fuss, bites me to get my attention (that’s never fun) and can truly be a hassel all over again. I should have taken him earlier, but training isn’t as cheap as food or doggy day care. It’ll be what some consider a splurge, but we believe it’s necessary if we’re going to keep this hilarious and sometimes crazy dog.

The doggy day care offers training classes and so does Petco. I know he’s a working dog, and feels like he needs a job to do. I ultimately want to get him trained to be a service dog, and maybe find a program where we can take him to schools for therapy for kids (he loves kids, or maybe just my little cousin Travis haha). But, one step (and dollar) at a time.

Tell me about your dog (and I’d love some pictures too). Did you take them to training classes? About how much do you spend on them every month? And yes, that’s us and Frankie.

2 Responses to Can You Afford to Keep Your Dog?

  1. Laura says:

    I would love to see a breakdown of your monthly budget, money in and out, and get a clearer view of what your financial plan is right now.
    I have two dogs, got one as a puppy and one as a 2 yr old. They eat $100 lbs of food a month, easy! We love them, but we waited to get them until we had the house, yard, and means for sure to take care of them.

    Also, what type of service dog do you think Frankie could be? I think that is great, but it requires a ton of training and usually just certain breeds of dogs I thought.

  2. I repost here what I did for StupidCents:

    ” As with most things in life, you have to make the decision around
    whether or not you can actually afford it, but I tend to make decisions
    that will enhance the quality of my life and my pet certainly makes it
    worth it.

    If you don’t have money put aside for the above-mentioned expenses
    then it’s probably not a great idea. But if you can afford it based on
    your income and other responsibilities then it shouldn’t be an issue.
    Even if you have debt.

    I do happen to have a large Malamute and she doesn’t cost me as much as one would think.

    Toys-She does just fine with the 1 toy she’s had since a puppy- a
    Kong which we fill with peanut butter on rare occasion. Other than that
    she runs around with it happily for most of the evening.

    Licensing- The cost where I am (DC Metro) is $23 a year. Less if you’re spayed or neutered.

    Grooming-If you know Malamautes then you know they shed every April
    and October. But we have never taken her in to get groomed. I have my
    own shears that I used to shave her down Lion King style last summer.
    Otherwise, when she visits the vet for a checkup they cut her nails for
    free

    Checkups-These can run a bit depending on what’s going on but they’ve been no more than $200 a year.

    Care-We have a few friends that love watching her so this hasn’t been
    an issue. When we have paid to have someone watch her it’s been around
    $250 for a week. That doesn’t happen often as we don’t take many
    vacations where she doesn’t come along. But this happens once a year.

    Food-$50 a month but that’s negligible for the experience of having her around
    We also feed her rice and ground turkey with chicken broth so that’s a
    good money saving option as well when we’re unable to get her pet food.

    Health Issues-I agree that this can get expensive. Been there done
    that with my cats who are no longer with us. This is what I think one
    should be prepared for in the event something happens but this is where
    pet health insurance comes in.

    I don’t agree that we have to make decisions like this solely about
    money. But there are people who do and that’s OK. I have one life to
    live and having debt won’t stop me from living it. I think having a pet
    has really enriched my life and she’s truly a part of my family,- so
    this decision is very different for everyone.”

    I should also add that finding a good and cost effective vet is
    important. When Maya was a puppy we took her to a vet that cost $150
    per visit if something was wrong. But now we have a vet that charges
    $50 per visit and that’s great! Like anything else you have to shop
    around and make sure that market prices fit in your budget and this
    definitely does.

    As you can probably tell I really love my dog and the costs laid out above wouldn’t prevent me from doing it all over again
    Her personality is one of a kind and whether we’re wrestling, playing
    hide and seek or running around at the dog park, it’s worth it.

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