There are currently over 7 million dogs owned in the UK , overtaking cats as Britain's most popular pet. The fun, love, bond and devotion experienced by dog owners from their beloved pet is unbelievable, almost to the point where you cannot put a price on it. But if you did how much do you think it would cost in hard pounds and pence? Whatever your reasons for choosing to include a dog in your life, whether it be work, play or simple companionship, the actual cost can vary widely depending on the breed you choose. Owning a dog is a huge commitment and you need to realise that some dogs can live 15 years or longer. There will be financial implications to owning a dog and prospective owners must not underestimate this and impulse buy a dog or puppy without thinking through the long term costs. With this in mind, it is worth asking yourself the following questions:
- Do you have the income to care for the dog for its entire lifetime, however long or short?
- Can you account for changes in circumstances? Loosing you job or house? Extra training classes should you dog develop behavioural issues? Vets fees in case of any unforeseen medical costs not covered by insurance (if you have it).
- It goes without saying that a larger breed of dog, for example St Bernards, Wolfhounds or Newfoundlands, will inevitably come with higher cost simply because of its physical size. It will require more food and bigger bowls, but smaller dogs such as most terrier types do tend to live longer than their larger counterparts meaning extra years costs. This is something you will have to consider.
- Costs often escalate as the dog ages - are you prepared for this?
Recent estimates by pet insurance companies put the average lifetime ownership costs of a dog at anywhere between £10, 000- £16,000. Depending on the duration of the dogs life, this can cost the owner over £1000 per year. Whichever way you look at it, that is a hefty chunk of your hard earned cash! With living costs rising on a daily basis, you need to be sure that you are willing and happy to part with the money for the privilege of having man's best friend, eagerly waiting for you to come home. The relationship you have with your dog deserves to be special, so to help you make this decision, here is a guide of what costs you can expect to meet over the course of a dog's life, notwithstanding the actual cost of buying or adopting the dog itself!
- Leading pet insurers have found that on average, feeding your dog accounts for over one third of the costs incurred by owners. With this in mind, it is worth investing the best quality pet food you can afford, and follow the manufacturer's instructions! With dog obesity becoming a one of the fastest riding causes of health issues, you can save yourself money in terms of the actual food and subsequent trips to the vets! Costs for food are estimated to cost around between £300-£450 per year.
- Pet insurance is a double edged sword - it is the safety net you need should something unthinkable happen, but many people do not do their research properly and end up with a substandard policy which does not provide the cover you may need. For example, if your dog develops diabetes, over the course of its life it may cost you over £10,000 in medical costs and special diet alone! You need to check the details of the policy cover to ensure that ongoing medication and treatment is covered. This is one area it really does pay to shop around. Of course, the cost of the cover also depends on the breed, the size of the dog and its age, but you can account for anywhere between £150-£300 on average.
- Going on holiday? Who is looking after Fido for your well earned week or two away? Of course, with the increase in dog friendly holidays in the UK the option is there to take your dog with you, but if this is not possible or you prefer to have some alone time then a pet/house sitter or boarding kennel may be your only option. Costs for this range from £8 £20 per day, depending where or who you choose. So for an average weekly holiday you may face up to £140 for a weeks care. Again, you will want to make sure the care your beloved dog receives while you are away is first class, so choose wisely taking into account any reports from friends who may have used certain service providers previously.
- Dog walkers if you have to be out of the house at work, professional grooming costs and sundries such as treats, bowls, beds and presents all also add up! Some of these costs vary on the service you use and the size of your dog, (larger dog +more coat to cut and groom=a higher cost!), but you need to account for anywhere between £10-£15 per day for dog walkers, to £20 and over for a session at the groomers! Of course, these costs are wide ranging as some people may employ a dog walker each day and some on none, so costs such as these are very individual.
- Routine veterinary costs not covered by insurance such as worm and flea treatment, pet passport of you take your dog abroad and routine vaccinations all add up. This cost of this can cost easily over £150 per year.
- Remember that dogs do not care how much things cost and are just as happy to play with a homemade (but safe) toy as one costing £15 from a fancy pet shop. Be original and creative, share tips and advice from other dog owners and you will see that savings can be made in many of the areas outlined above.
Like a marriage, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer and until death do you part, the unconditional relationship with your dog can be one of the most rewarding ones you can have. Before you make the decision, make sure you afford the commitment and ultimately you will find that the ride with your dog will be worth it.