Paws for thought
A dog can be a wonderful addition to your life, offering constant companionship, a reason to spend time in nature everyday and undying loyalty.
But first of all you need to work out if you can afford to have one. Dogs are expensive. In fact, 98% of pet owners underestimated the lifetime costs in a study by the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA).
Research by insurer More Than suggests the monthly cost of owning a dog is between £94 and £154 a month, depending on the breed. And remember, your pooch will likely live for 10 to 13 years, which means that you could spend as much as £24,000 over the course of its lifetime.
How much do you have to spend?
You need to look at your regular outgoings and work out how much money you could afford to spend each month on your mutt.
Make a budget detailing all the income you get each month after tax, plus how much you expect to spend, including rent, bills, living costs and contributions to Savings Pots. Subtract your outgoings from your total income. The amount you are left with is how much you could spend on a dog.
It’s also worth thinking about what other things you might like to spend that money on. Do you want to start saving for a deposit for a flat? Do you love buying clothes or new gadgets? Are you likely to want to go on a big trip over the next few years? Getting a dog could mean sacrificing some of these things, so you need to make sure it’s the right decision for you in the long term.
Choosing your dog
The cost of buying a dog depends on what breed you get and where you get it from. Choosing a dog from a shelter tends to cost between £50 and £150, whereas buying a pedigree puppy from a breeder could cost you thousands.
Your choice of pooch will also impact how much money you’ll spend on its food. On the whole, the bigger the dog, the more calories it will need. For example, a Great Dane could eat up to 14 cups of dry food a day, whereas a chihuahua might only eat half a cup or less.
A word of warning: If you’re looking to buy a puppy, be wary of any that have come from puppy farms, which often breed dogs in bad conditions. If the mother dog isn’t present when you visit your pup, it could be suspicious. Look for a breeder that is a member of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme.
What are the costs?
Getting your dog microchipped is now a legal requirement. It costs £15-20 but failing to do so could get you a fine of £500.
Annual booster jabs will cost up to £50. If you get a puppy, the initial vaccinations will cost a little more, up to £100. You’ll also need to buy products to keep worms, ticks and fleas at bay. Insurer More Than suggests this costs about £19 a month.
Vets bills can be extortionate, especially as your dog gets older and is more likely to get health problems. A hip replacement or chemotherapy could cost up to £5,000. Pet insurance isn’t cheap either, but it may be worth the cost in the long run. Lifetime cover costs £472 a year on average, according to Which?. A one-year policy will be cheaper while your dog is young, but prices will shoot up once it’s over six years old.
The cost of taking your puppy to obedience classes will vary depending on your area, but expect to pay between £5 and £15 a class. Courses will last four to eight weeks and you may need to pay for the entire programme upfront.
There are a range of different dog food options on the market, from cheaper products that are often bulked out with ingredients like oats, to more fancy fares that have higher meat content. You should expect to pay between £10 and £40 a month on food and treats, depending on the size of your pooch.
A trip to the salon with a medium sized dog for a full groom will cost around £50, involving treatments like washing its fur with shampoo and conditioner, cleaning its ears, cutting its nails, freshening its breath and styling its coat, depending on the package. To keep your hound looking tip-top, you’ll want to make a visit every couple of months.
Doggy day care
If you don’t have a dog friendly office, you may have to fork out for doggy daycare which can cost between £10 and £30 a day. The price depends on where you live and the facilities or services on offer. You will also have to make arrangements for your dog when you go away. Putting your dog in a kennel or hiring a pet-sitter will cost between £17 and £25 a day.
Alternatively, you can sign up to Borrow My Doggy. The app connects you to dog lovers in your local area who would be happy to look after your dog for free.
Finding a compromise
If having a dog doesn’t fit into your budget, think about whether you could compromise on certain aspects or getting a small dog from a shelter to keep your costs down.
It may be that you just can’t afford it right now. If that’s the case, you could sign up to Borrow My Doggy as a borrower or consider getting another kind of pet that is less expensive to look after. The PDSA has a great quiz to help you find the best pet to suit your lifestyle.
For more tips on how to save and budget better, head to Monzo Money Tips👇