The Economics of Pet Ownership

in Financial Planning by

Around Thanksgiving last year, my husband and I decided we were ready to get serious about owning a dog. We had just moved into a new place with a huge backyard and figured it was the perfect space to add another member to the family. I grew up with Golden Retrievers, so was slightly biased to the breed (good with kids, good with adults, good with everyone really…but probably the worst guard dog!). Evan never experienced having a pet growing up, unless you count a three-week stint with a goldfish that ended up getting accidentally flushed…long story. We were not tied to a particular breed, but agreed that we wanted a good family dog.

Our first stop was the local SPCA. When we didn’t find a pooch that we “fell in love with”, we continued our search with local breeders and went to adoption fairs at our neighborhood pet store. After months of looking, we finally found our Mabel, an 8-week ball of energy, on a whim after responding to a Craigslist posting. Yes, you can find dogs on Craigslist! But, word from the wise if you are dog shopping online – only purchase in-person from a responsible breeder and make sure they have credentials. We were so unprepared when we showed up for the adoption that I made Evan run to Petco to get a leash and a collar before we could take her home.

And that was the moment when I realized we had no clue what we were getting into… just how expensive is owning a dog in a city like San Francisco? We would soon learn the hard way how costly our furbaby would be.

For the animal-loving readers out there interested in getting a dog or cat of their own, here’s a look into the monthly costs of owning a pet.

The Costs of Fido and Fluffy

Pet ownership is a reality for many American households. According to the American Pet Product Association, about 68 percent of U.S. households in 2012, or 82.5 million households, shared their home with a pet.

The cost of caring for your animal varies depending on your pet’s size, breed and location. The ASPCA reports that annual costs of owning a medium size dog are roughly $1,580. The bigger the dog, the more expensive your costs due to more kibble/food, exercise requirements, grooming, maintenance and accessories.

And be prepared – the first year is usually the most expensive. Puppies require a host of special shots and vaccines – meaning a lot of pricey trips to the vet! According to a recent article by Kiplinger, your new best friend can cost between $700 and $2,000 in the first year alone (excluding any special needs such as dog walking, pet insurance, and grooming, which can raise the cost by more than $7,000!).

Ready for the pet price lowdown? Check out our monthly overview of costs for Mabel, our 40-pound bundle of joy:

Monthly Expenses:

Dog Food: $50 per month ($600 a year) for grain-free kibble
Pet Insurance (we have VPI – Veterinary Pet Insurance): $18-35 (for basic coverage)
Vet Trips: $0 – $40 per visit (Our visits are lower because we went ahead and bought a wellness package)
Dog Walker: $25 per walk (5 days a week) – Total $500 per month, or $1,000 per month for double walks
Toys: $0 – 50 (We realized very quickly that our dog prefers sticks and rocks over fancy toys, so this is a category you can definitely save on)
Treats: $10 – 30 (Another category we can probably save on – Mabel prefers ice cubes!)
Accessories: $0 – 20 (this includes new collars, leashes, dog poop plastic waste bags)
Grooming: $0 – 30 (We do this ourselves)

TOTAL per month: $578 – 1,255


Wellness Package: $60 per month – this is a package through our vet that allows walk-ins and all office visits to be free of charge, also includes discounts on shots and vaccines
Lost Pet Service: $15 annually – since we live in a big city, we wanted our dog to be on a national registry in case she went missing
Frontline Plus Flea and Tick Prevention medicine: $65 per year (Optional, but we thought this was important)
Heartworm Prevention Medication: Free with our wellness package
Boarding/Pet Hotel: $100 – 300 (based on a 2-day stay at Wag Hotel)

TOTAL: $900 – 1,200

Start-Up Costs:

Adoption (Based on SF SPCA’s adoption fees): $100 – 250
Puppy Shots: $20 – 150 for the first year, $10 – 100 per year afterwards
Crate: $60
Dog Bed: $40
Cleaning Supplies: $15 – 30
Dog Spay Surgery: $0 (Included in the wellness package) but can range from $200 – 300
Dog Training Classes: $1,200 (4 week program)

TOTAL: $1,435 – $1,930

After our financial analysis, we realized that our sweet Mabel costs us between $578 – 1,000 per month! As soon as we started tracking our spending using Personal Capital’s free tools, we immediately stopped our frivolous trips to the pet store and reduced this in half!

*Again, note that these costs range depending on your dog’s breed, size and location. Your costs might be cheaper if you own a miniature poodle in Kansas, over a Labrador in California.

Is Your Pet A Money Pit?

To some, owning a dog in an expensive city like San Francisco is out of the question. Similar to children, just providing basic needs such as a roof over their head, food, medical and education can be expensive, so it’s important to create a budget before you adopt. For new pet owners, you should plan on putting at least 10% of your paycheck away to cover the first year costs. And if you can start saving at least 2-3 months before you get your pet you’ll be protected against unforeseen costs, such as a trip to the emergency vet to retrieve car keys that your dog just ate.

I’ll admit, after logging into my Personal Capital Dashboard, I was shocked to see that Mabel is now my 2nd highest expense each month (next to my mortgage)! After months of mindless spending on the dog – random trips to the pet store for more toys and bones to be exact – we put ourselves on a weekly budget. The dog will still love us even if we don’t spoil her rotten.

We’ve also considered reducing the amount of dog walks per week, or alternating working from home on Fridays. And no more fancy dog hotels or boarding – we have plenty of friends who would love the chance to watch our sweet girl when we are out of town. We also completely eliminated grooming costs by bathing Mabel twice a month in our own tub and enjoying the complete trill of watching her splash around. Be warned, a free bath also means that you don’t mind wiping down your entire house when she starts shaking to dry afterwards!

Man’s Best Friend

Is pet ownership worth the expense? I’m sure if you asked every dog owner out there that question, you’d get an overwhelming YES! Not only is your pet a best friend, companion and essential family member, but research suggests that owning a pet can improve your health. A recent study conducted by Michigan State University showed that dog owners exercised an average of 30 minutes a day, at least five days a week – exceeding federal exercise guidelines. Forget expensive gym memberships and fancy treadmills – go for a walk outside for free!

Owning a pet has not only given us added responsibility, it has also provided valuable lessons such as being patient and not sweating the small things. But it’s truly the happiness your pet brings that makes everything worth it – especially when I come home from work and see that familiar tail wagging. Those sloppy greetings are something you just can’t buy.

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Jacqueline Quasney

Jacqueline Quasney

Jacqueline Quasney is Director of Brand and Communications for Personal Capital. She recently moved to the Bay Area after working for various news media outlets including ABC News, BBC and POLITICO in Washington, D.C. She thinks Personal Capital's tools have been life-changing for managing her finances and is excited to be part of a movement to help people lead better financial lives.


  1. Andy

    Great article! They are still worth every penny 🙂

    Glad you are raising awareness on this.

  2. Matt

    $500 of your minimum $578 monthly expenses are for dog walking??? I know a LOT of pet owners, but none of them pay someone to walk their dog… Your monthly expenses should be more like $78 – $255, but that would make your article a lot less dramatic.

    • Tom

      I second that. Why would you get a dog and not walk it yourself (at least most of the time)? (Potentially inflammatory comment, not deliberate) It would be a bit like having a kid and hiring someone else to play ball with him or her. If you don’t have time to walk your own dog, maybe you shouldn’t have one.

      • Jacqueline Quasney

        Jacqueline Quasney

        Tom, I totally agree. I work full-time so I knew that dog walking would be part of the cost of owning a dog. If I stayed at home all day, it would be a different story. Also she’s still a puppy – which remember need a lot more attention and exercise. I think it’s worth making others aware that if you work full time and can’t afford dog walking (these are SF prices remember – different probably where you live) then maybe you should think twice about getting a dog. And yes – I still walk her in the mornings before work for 30-45 mins and at night after work for another 45-1h!

  3. Diane

    This should be titled …. cost of DOG ownership! I have a cat because I travel AND she’s MUCH less expensive. No, she’s not the same as a dog (that’s why I’m a dog walker!) … I get paid to walk them.

  4. Dan

    Dog walking costs? Up to 12k per year? Really?

  5. Megan

    We have two smaller dogs and no dog walker and our budget averages out to $135/month for them. I think the authors expenses are a little over the top. How could you spend $50/month on toys???

  6. Kris

    Superb article! Right in line with what we spend in Marblehead,MA on our Vizslas . Times two for two dogs. Thanks for adding up the costs for those who don’t know about this before getting one.

  7. Steve

    Pet walking service?? Why would you pay someone $500/month to walk your dog? If you don’t have the time to do it, then don’t get a dog. They aren’t accessories for someone else to take care of.

    New collars and leashes…MONTHLY? Come on.

    National registry at $15/year? Get him microchipped…one time fee and register online.

    I’ve got two happy/healthy dogs that I’ve had for a decade….the two of them combined don’t come close to the numbers you’re throwing out there for one. Next time, be patient, go to the pound and save a dog’s life. Often times they already have some level of basic training and will only need you to continue to reinforce the discipline…oh but wait, you use a professional dog walker. smh

  8. Marie

    Haha. $500 a month on walking a pet? Why do you have a big backyard then? Walking a pet is part of pet ownership.

    And this isn’t even close to half of what I spend on my cats, and I have 7 of them, and they eat top of the line stuff.

    • Selah

      I agree that the cost of a dog walker is outrageous, but your comment sparks a nerve with me. Having a large yard does not mean the dog does not need exercise! Dog don’t go outside and walk themselves– at home they generally sleep all day. No matter the size of the place, dogs need to be walked.

    • Anonymous

      This cost is mainly for city pet owners who don’t have time or a yard.

  9. Craig

    If you are spending $500/month on your dog, you have to have no financial sense. We have a dog and it costs us $70-80/month all in. Food, grooming, shots, you name it. We spent just over $800 last year on our dog.

    $500/month for dog walking? Hell, why not also pay someone $500/month to shove fast food down your mouth while you lay on the couch too? How lazy is our society that someone would pay $25/walk to have someone walk your dog? If you can’t walk your dog, then don’t get one.

    It’s not surprising that so many people in our country don’t have enough money saved for retirement when you see some of the frivolous expenses in this article.

    • john

      Lol agree

  10. Caroline Taylor

    Watch out for the rocks. Our dog cracked two molars and nearly died from a acute on chronic infection, septic shock!

  11. Laura

    Such an important article, so many people don’t do their homework and wind up not being able to afford their pet. Emergency vet care is very expensive and I recommend pet insurance to all of my friends getting new pets; it really does help defray the costs!

    • Omar

      Insurance is great for people who want to just not worry about budgeting ahead for medical expenses on their own, but chances are you will be better served by setting money aside on a monthly basis vs paying for a premium/deductible plus any riders you might that that may never get used, aside from possible discounts for wellness clauses.

      Remember, insurance providers make a profit because you pay them more than they pay out for most pets.

  12. Lance

    So I’m just gonna say it, I love my dog. He is a 100 lbs hyper Goldendoodle. He is huge and we feel like he is spoiled already! But even for him I would never spend $500 a month. In fact, we average $60 a month including all his shots, foods, toys, and grooming and that is all we budget for. I also have 3 kids and I don’t even spend $500 a month per kid. For $500-1000 a month I could buy another house! While owning a dog is definitely worth it but if you’re paying hundreds or even a thousand a month for other people to take care of your dog… I don’t know, it just seems so wasteful when you could use all that cash to invest instead and your dog will love you just the same if not more…

  13. Mark Smith

    What they bring, is well beyond the expense. Life is not all about money.

  14. Rationality

    Cut the f’ing wellness package and pet insurance. My god.

  15. Dawn

    I am glad this article is in the financial section. Many don’t realize what they are getting into with that ‘cute puppy’! Can be worth it but make sure you can afford it! Too many shelters and craigslist ads are from those who didn’t think first.

  16. M

    Nice article – I think it’s fair to point out that there CAN be high costs associated with pet (especially dog) ownership. However, I have 2 100 lb. dogs at home and I spend NOWHERE NEAR this kind of money on them on a monthly basis. My typical monthly costs for both dogs is at or under $100 (I live in a large metropolitan area, though not SF). $500-$1000 a month to have someone walk your dog seems absolutely crazy to me. Walking a dog is one of the main reasons to have one… why pay someone else to do it?? Same with training a dog. $1200??! This can easily be researched online, done at home, and your dog will probably listen to you better than if someone else trains him/her. Need your dog watched while you go out of town? Ask a friend or family member to watch them or look for a Facebook group of dog owners in your area to see if you can find someone to watch your dog (offer to watch their dog in exchange). There are a lot of ways to be frugal when it comes to pet ownership. And I can tell you, neither of my dogs are unhappy, underfed, or under-exercised!

    I will second the idea of looking into pet insurance – I’ve had two dogs that tore their ACL’s and let me tell you, that is not a cheap surgery… yikes! I did not have insurance on either dog and my wallet felt the effects of those surgeries for a while.

  17. Bryan

    I agree with most of the other costs listed, but $500-1000 per month for dog walking, seriously? That amount alone is completely inflating all of your totals and making it seem much more expensive than it is to own a dog. By walking a dog yourself, you get your own exercise and save a boatload of cash. If you’re not able or willing to walk, throw a ball in a park or your backyard. Super easy, and fun for both you and the dog.

  18. Pauline

    My little guy is now 14 years old, almost 15. He has been with us since he was 3months old. He has been a friend and a companion through all the hills and valleys of our life without judgement for our mistakes. I’ve told him my secrets and I know he will not gossip or laugh at me. He makes people smile when he peeks out of the car window. There is no price for the companionship they provide to people and this is well documented. We pay on average about $1500 annually with pet insurance being the biggest expense. He is worth every penny. Vet bills increase as dogs get age related conditions. They can get chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or orthopedic problems. My little guy now has a cataracts and a heart murmur. Without that insurance our expenses would jump another $500-1000 annually out of pocket. This can be deal breaker for any pet owner financially and needs to be considered if anyone wants a pet. A pet with a chronic condition can get very very expensive. I need not mention what many pet owners have to decide to do.

  19. Angela

    I agree with Andy. So many pets wind up in shelters when people don’t realize the cost. My cats are rescues and have been great companions, helping me stay balaced and healthy in a crazy world. Rather pay for cat food than blood pressure medication.

  20. Ben

    This article has no real information about cats. The title is misleading. It should be titles the economics of dog ownership

  21. Prudence

    What the heck?!! It is insane to say that daily walks at $25 buck a pop are an essential, while flea/tick/heartworm prevention is optional. Walking the dog is great exercise & part of the joy of dog ownership. If you don’t have time to walk the dog yourself most of the time and save the $25 per walk, do you really have enough time to be a responsible pet owner?

  22. Kate MacMahon

    I’ve always had dogs, and several of the expenses mentioned by the writer of this article are not only not necessary, they’re unrealistic. A little online research could show this first-time dog owner many ways to cut the costs she has enumerated. In my opinion, saying that a pet owner ought to count on using 10% of his or her income to pay for owning a dog is misleading. And why on Earth would anybody get a dog they don’t have the time to walk? If someone is unable to walk a dog, some online research (again) could steer them toward breeds that don’t require a lot of exercise and don’t require an expenditure of $12,000 a year for 2 walks a day.

  23. Gunner

    This is so bogus its almost laughable. I spent $1,800 to purchase my dog (special breeding), but you can easily get one for $35 at your local shelter. To say you would spend $1,400 PER MONTH is just ridiculous. I spend $40 a month for a bag of food (for three dogs), $24 every six weeks for nail trims ($8 a dog x 3) and about $50 a year, per dog, for shots. Once a quarter I’ll buy a small bag of hard treats (because hard treats are better for their dental hygiene) and dole those out throughout the quarter. The treats cost $10.

    My annual expense — $878. And, its money well spent.

  24. Craig

    There are several hidden costs in owning a pet as well that were not mentioned. In order to have a dog many people get a larger apartment, limit the selection of apartments that allow dogs, and some charge a monthly pet fee of around $25 to $50 more a month. These can significantly add to the expense of having a pet upwards of over $100 a month.

    There are the extra trips home or lack of flexibility that occurs when having a pet. This is another hidden costs that results in maybe having to take more expensive Uber rides, booking a airline ticket that fits better with the pet arrangements, etc.

    There is also the lost opportunities for saving or investing the extra $500 to $1000+ a month in retirement. This is more than most Americans put away for retirement.

    These are all hidden and indirect but real costs. They are variable expenses that are different for different households. That being said, many people find these to absolutely worth it.

    • Mal

      This is a really good point. I spend about $100/month on my very spoiled 60 lb dog. But the biggest expense is deciding to rent a house instead of a small apartment. Yes, there are other benefits to that and we love having a yard and the space, but the dog is the single biggest reason for renting a house. I guess if you’re a homeowner, that’s a moot point, but many pet owners are not. The second biggest expense for us is the cost of a pet sitter when we travel, which we do fairly regularly. We don’t have family or friends who could watch him. On the flip side, we walk him over an hour each day at a minimum and have zero need for a gym membership. So the dog makes us exercise and even manages to make it fun. And we hike on the weekends, which is a pretty cheap hobby so there’s that too. He is worth every penny.

  25. Nathan

    If your pet requires that much (time and money) for walking – that you’re not providing yourself – you might reconsider your priorities/choice of pet.

  26. George

    This author is either very lazy or very rich, neither of which is reality for the majority of responsible dog owners.

    $1000/mo for dog walking is a straight up lie, this cost should be $0000.00. If not, you have no business owning a dog. In fact, you might end up net +$100/mo if you forego a gym membership and hike/bike etc with your dog. It won’t take much with the hilly terrain in SF.

    Obedience training should cost you between $0 (youtube videos) and $400 (Petsmart, for puppy through expert level training, 1 session per week, 6 weeks each, 24 weeks total). Dogs require TIME; if you don’t have it, using your wallet is not an acceptable replacement.

    I could go on about the ways the author is either getting fleeced, or is misleading readers intentionally. Quite shocking coming from a personal finance website that promotes fiscal responsibility, actually. Please get a clue before posting.

    The comments about hidden costs, travel arrangements, vet bills, and lifestyle adjustments are valid and unpredictable, and cash reserves should be allocated. But every bit worth it. Sorry for the blunt words but if my post helps one person then it is worth it; there are a lot of bad dog owners out there.

    • Jacqueline Quasney

      Jacqueline Quasney


      I appreciate your comment. As brand new pet owners, my post was written to show people the potential costs of owning a new puppy and yes they are extreme for most people! But after we started to realize how expensive our dog was, we immediately cut down on the extra costs and reduced everything by more than half. So I agree with you that costs can be cut down, but I also will admit that we fell into the trap of feeling like we had to buy things for our new pet. Fortunately, we quickly realized that it’s all a big business and most of the costs are not necessary – again just extras! I’m happy to admit that I learned from my mistake quickly and hoping new pet owners will be more aware of the costs of owning a dog!

      • Bryan

        So what you’re saying is that the costs listed are extremely misleading to most people. What’s the point of the entire article then? It’s billed as “a look into the monthly costs of owning a pet”, which implies that the costs are what a new pet owner can expect on average. Of course there will be variance based on location, dog type, and personal preference. But that’s what studies and averages are for.

        An article detailing one extremely fringe case doesn’t help new pet owners estimate their own costs in any way. Anecdotes about a worst-case scenario might serve as a cautionary tale of what to avoid, but that isn’t what the article claims to be.

        In the end, the message I take away from this article is that people with more money than time shouldn’t get a dog. They require lots of attention and personal care. If you can’t devote a few hours a week to walking them (and getting your own exercise), you aren’t ready to be dog owners.

  27. Karl

    this is exaggerated, does anyone really spend this much?? also if you don’t have time to walk or train the dog, you probably shouldn’t be getting one.

  28. Eleanor

    As a professional pet sitter and, yes, dog walker, I have to say that I am dismayed by the cavalier and dismissive attitude voiced by many here about my chosen profession. I have owned my business for more than 27 years and have pride in the care that my staff and I take in providing services for the many pets that we see. Hiring a dog walker does not mean that the owner is necessarily lazy or rich. In most cases, it means that the owner is being responsible by providing their dog(s) a midday break, which usually includes a walk as part of the service. So many people these days have to work a very long day and would be leaving their dogs without a bathroom break for way too many hours were it not for hiring a dog walker.

    Certainly, I have clients whose dogs only get walked when we do it, but most of my clients use my services as an ADDITION to the walking they also do with their dogs. And I can only speak for my prices here in Dallas, but $25 is about the average for what I charge per visit. Keep in mind that pet sitters also look after the house as well as the pets. There have been many occasions where we have brought in important packages and mail (think delivered bank checks or perishable items) during the midday visit that would have sat in a mailbox or on a porch until evening otherwise. And while we are not medically trained in most cases, we do notice many times when a pet is having issues with illness or injury. Just this week alone, I have had conversations with two separate clients about their pets; one pet is most likely diabetic and the other has many signs of a thyroid problem.

    So please reconsider the value of hiring a pet sitter/dog walker. We love what we do and our services can even provide the difference in whether or not someone is able to have a pet. And there are so many animals out there needing homes!

    • Jacqueline Quasney

      Jacqueline Quasney

      Thank you Eleanor for your comment! I work full-time so I think it’s worth hiring a dog walker for mid-day breaks – especially since she is still a puppy (which I think a lot of the commenters probably didn’t consider that puppies should not be left alone for too long!) Once she gets older I’m sure we won’t need as many mid-day walks, but I still think exercise is a great way to keep your dog happy and healthy. And I still walk her in the mornings and nights before work too!

      • Eleanor

        Jacqueline, don’t let all of these negative commenters get to you! You are being RESPONSIBLE by hiring a dog walker for your pup. I wonder how many of the people replying to this post that scoffed at spending the money for services like mine have full-time jobs? And just how many hours do they leave their dogs alone without a break??

        The more exercise the better for a dog — multiple walks during the day makes for a happy, tired, non-destructive pet!

        • Bryan

          Our problem isn’t with the fact that she’s using a dog walker. Personally I don’t think it’s necessary, but I know it’s valuable to some people and their pets.

          The problem is with completely misrepresenting the costs of dog ownership based on one extreme case. The article is presented as a look at the monthly costs of pet ownership, which implies an average or range of values (and other types of pets than dogs too).

          If you remove the pet walking costs from her article, her totals become about 80% lower. If instead she had listed $500/month worth of pet treats we’d also call shenanigans, at such an unrealistic number skewing the totals.

          • Eleanor


            Thanks for your reply to my post. Respectfully, the majority of the posters here DO seem to have a problem with Jacqueline using a dog walker and have especially honed in on the cost. Some of the words used have been “insane, crazy, liar, lazy, no financial sense, bogus, and astronomical”. I can’t speak to any of the other costs mentioned, but her cost for dog walking is absolutely in line with what I charge (and I’m in Dallas, not San Francisco). So 5 midday breaks per week is exactly what was stated in the article, $1,000 per month. Perhaps George should do a little research before calling part of an article “a straight up lie”. And before everyone has an apoplectic fit about that cost, please consider the next paragraphs.

            During a 5-day work week, it is typical to work at least 9-5 or 6 ( 8-9 hours). If you add in travel time, most people are away from their home easily 9 hours and usually more, especially if there are errands or kids’ extracurricular activities figured in. How many of you stop for groceries or to meet a friend before heading home? Or do you run by the house just long enough to let your dog out for a few minutes before dashing off to evening activities? For everyone that has raked Jacqueline over the coals on budgeting for a dog walker, leaving many dogs alone for too much more than 10-11 hours without a bathroom break is irresponsible. And the extra (note: extra, not only) exercise and attention that a dog walker provides is terrific for the long-term health and happiness of a dog.

            And Jacqueline stated right up front that she has a puppy. Ask any vet and they will tell you that most puppies can “hold it” about one hour more than the number of months old they are. If a person decides that it is too “luxurious” to spend the money on a dog walker, they had better balance that out with the cost of carpet cleaning supplies (and the eventual need for a carpet cleaning service), the total aggravation of cleaning up after a pet on a daily basis, not to mention the destruction that a bored pet can do if they are left unsupervised for many hours. Many dogs do OK being left for long stretches, but not all, and certainly not puppies! You would not believe some of the messes my staff and I have had to clean up from dogs whose owners only wanted twice per day service (12-13 hours shifts) instead of three times per day (8-9 hour shifts).

            Jacqueline should have mentioned in the article that she does walk her dog before work and in the evening. Perhaps the comments wouldn’t have been so mocking and vitriolic. She did, however, add this information very early on in the comments section. For all of the commenters that made a point of basically saying “you shouldn’t have a dog if you’re going to hire someone to walk it”, how often and long do you walk YOUR dog? Do you spend the 1 1/2 hours or so a day that Jacqueline does, plus the 30 minute walk (I’m assuming) of the dog walker? If you do, I applaud your efforts and the obvious love and respect you have for your pet.

          • Bryan

            The fact remains that this is promoted an article about the average costs of dog ownership. Debates over the merits of dog walking aside, her final numbers are greatly affected by a choice that isn’t average (just take a poll of the comments), making them misleading to those thinking about getting a dog. In statistical analysis, extreme outliers should be removed to avoid tainting results. Her totals would be about 80% less, and far less shocking if she had done this.

            Moving dog walking into the “extras” or an optional section would have made sense. It’s not something everyone needs, but rather something she decided was worth it for her and her dog. The ~80% lower end totals would have been accurate, within some regional variance, for what anyone could expect to budget for a canine addition to their family. (Though the article still fails to live up to its title of the economics of “pet” ownership.)

            Hopefully this article doesn’t dissuade anyone from the joys of having a furry companion. They can actually be very affordable as long as you are reasonable about it, and don’t buy from a breeder, or go for anything ridiculous like designer leashes and dog food hand crafted by celebrity chefs, lol.

          • Manny


            When you say the costs are misleading because the average dog owner doesn’t need a dog walker, does that imply that the average dog owner doesn’t have a full-time job?
            Otherwise, as several pointed out, it’s hard to understand how to leave your dog alone for 10 hours straight…

          • Bryan

            Just look at the comments – many that have commented aren’t in favor of it and have explained how much lower their own monthly pet costs are. Personally, I’ve never used a dog walker because it hasn’t been necessary. If it became necessary, I would use one until I was able to figure out something else.

            Having a full time job doesn’t always mean you need a dog walker. Plenty of people work from home, go home for lunch, or have kids that get home earlier / helpful neighbors / different shifts than significant others / roommates, etc. Some people have outdoor pets, or live in areas where indoor dogs can spend part of the day outside or in a dog house. Others just avoid over-watering their dog before they leave, trust them to hold it, and are willing to accept the occasional accident. And some use crates if they get destructive when left alone for more than a few hours. There’s even doggie litter boxes for smaller dogs able to be trained to use them.

            I’m not advocating any one of these things specifically, I’m just saying that there are often work-arounds to avoid $500-1000/month in dog walking expenses. If none of these options are available and dog walking would break your budget, it’s probably not a good idea to get a dog.

  29. Kirk

    She lives in San Fransico, remember prices are different depending where you live.

  30. Mike

    I absolutely spoil my dog and no where come near the prices mentioned here. The dog walking price your paying is astronomical and I do have to agree that needs to be cut. If you feel you needed dog walking 5x a week i do think you need to question if a dog is right for you.

    $35 wellness plan – $0 visits 20% off vet services/meds not covered
    $36 pet insurance – $100 delectable 90% coverage
    $65 months food – Blue Buff Wilderness
    $20 bag of treats

    Vet Misc 2014 – $200
    Supplies (poop bags, toys, paw cream) 2014 – $150
    Grooming 4x a year @ $65 – $260

    2482/12 = average $207/month

    Boarding for time on vacation:
    11 nights at $39 – $429

  31. Manny

    I also don’t understand all the comments against the dog walker. A couple with decent jobs it’s common to leave home at 8am and only be back at 7pm, just think of a 9 to 6 job with a bit extra time and commute.
    I don’t know about your dogs, but I certainly can’t leave my dog alone locked in the apartment for 11 hours.
    In my situation our jobs don’t require this much away from home, so we don’t need a daily walker, but it’s not uncommon in a major city to have couples working these hours.

  32. Adam

    After reading the comments it’s clear to me that many have no idea on the differences of owning a dog in a big, expensive city vs the suburbs or rural areas. Or they’re unemployed and can walk their dog numerous times a day or are irresponsible owners and only take their dog out for one walk a day!

    Here in Manhattan I spend $200 a week (5 days) for a dog walker for my two dogs. That’s for 2 walks per day and is a bargain for NYC. I walk them at night for another hour, so that they’re out and about for at least 2.5 to 3 hours per day.

    And if you think the authors other costs are high try using a vet in Manhattan. If you get our for under $500 you’re lucky. My bills have many times be well over that amount, x 2 of course.

  33. Crusader

    Another exaggeration, typical in our free speech culture.

    • Adam

      Exaggeration? Last month my bill for my yearly visit to the Vet was $1800 for the two of them. I made the mistake of bringing them a day after my dog vomited so they suggested several additional tests. I’ll be happy to email you the bill if you don’t believe me.

  34. Lorelai

    What a lot of pet owners don’t think about is it’s cheaper to ban together. My friends and I take our dogs on group walks. We trade walking, petsitting and playgroups when we don’t have enough time. If one of our dogs doesn’t like a certain toy or treat, we pass it amongst our group until we find the dog that does. It saves a lot of time and energy that way 🙂

  35. John

    Lol…I’ve owned dogs my whole life.
    True, buying the pooch and getting shots, and gear is the greatest expense upfront. After….for go insurance. It’s rare you will need it, and the cost is usually more than the procedure. Buy your quality dogfood ate Costco. 40-50 lb bag is $20-34. My 100lb Golden retriever mix will eat twice a day and it takes 6 weeks to finish. I don’t care if you work full time, set your clock and get up early. Your bond will grow as you set this routine. Have kids? Their job is to walk their dog a few times around the block. Yes we live in the city. Other options, doggy doors. Grab a brush and groom your own dog. People are lazy. Use newspaper or grocery bags to pick up poop. Buy heartworm meds online. 3 year Rabie shots are available as well. This being said, our family cost currently, $15 a month.


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