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Long-term costs add up for dog ownership

The price dog ownership varies widely according breed size age luck. Some veterinarians have estimated owners could spend $20000 over

The price of dog ownership varies widely according to breed, size, age, and luck. Some veterinarians have estimated owners could spend $20,000 over the life of a dog.

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Cost of owning a dog

The 2006 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association said the average annual cost of owning a dog is $2,084. (Cat owners pay about $1,318 per year.) Expenses include veterinary care, boarding, grooming, food, treats, toys, training, collars and leashes.

Product/service Low cost High cost

Food 125 700

Vaccines 100 100

Vet bills 40 500

Bed 0 50

Treats 0 500

Toys 0 150

Flea Control 20 200

Heartworm 50 100

Shampoo 6 25

Grooming 0 400

Grooming tools 1 25

Dental Care 0 40

Stain Cleaner 5 100

Boarding 0 500

Totals 347 3,390

*Total over the life of a 50-pound, 12-year-old dog in the Midwest


Updated: September 29, 2011 12:51AM

“You can’t afford a dog!” someone told me when I adopted my Siberian husky 4½ years ago. Like most people I thought otherwise.

The other day, an online story by Dr. Jon Rappaport at grabbed my attention. He said a dog that lives 10 years would probably cost its owner $20,000. That means Frosty could cost me the price of a modest car?

This price doesn’t include her multiple Halloween costumes or if she gets ill. My friend’s Lab swallowed five rocks the other day. He threw up four. Getting the last one out cost $5,000. I know she would have paid nearly any price.

The price of canine companionship is going to vary widely according to breed, size, age, level of comfort — and mostly, luck. Dogs, of course, are most expensive when they’re very young or very old.

Dog ownership is rarely a practical arrangement — but emotional.

“I don’t think most owners consider the long-term costs of owning a dog,” said Dr. Stephanie Streitz of Essington Road Animal Clinic, where I plunked down $113 Friday for a one-year rabies vaccination, canine DHPP/C, heartworm test and kennel cough vaccine.

In the waiting room, Terry Adams of Shorewood was cuddling her 4-year-old Chihuahua Frida. She also was surprised at the estimated cost of dog ownerships. But she added: “The number doesn’t faze me. She’s family.”

Caroline Qualls of Minooka, head of the Grundy County Chamber of Commerce, e-mailed me to say, “I had to really think about that number — and even though Roo is spoiled (with toys, regular visits to the pet salon and agility training) and we had a lot of medical bills for Toby (he had cancer that included trips to University of Illinois), I think $20,000 is high. That must include gourmet food and a professional dog walker!”

That’s when I sat down and figured out how much I actually spend on Frosty in an average year. I came up with the number $1,865, and that doesn’t include gourmet food or a professional dog walker.

The $1,865 also doesn’t include the $25 fee to the forest preserve’s dog parks — which to me is actually priceless.

Joy Alexander of Joliet summed it up best: “When you measure this number up against the cost of a therapist, a personal trainer, an on-call entertainer and a unconditional love, combined, it seems like a deal!”

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