While trying to figure out how old my 7 1/2 year old dog Abigail is in human years, I came across the following website: http://www.dogyears.com/ In addition to a chart comparing dog to human years (the old saw about each dog year being seven human years is inaccurate), the site also has a chart called Approximate Annual Dog Care Costs. They wisely include a disclaimer that “costs vary depending on charges by individual veterinarians”. After the first year (when the dog has to have all its puppy shots, and get spayed or neutered–that is, if you’re a responsible dog owner), they estimate the annual cost is $818.
My first reaction, when I looked just at the total, was “No way!” I figure it’s close to twice that much. Either their calculations are in 1958 dollars, or they’re living in an alternate universe. (How do I get a ticket to that universe?) So I went back and looked at each line item to try to figure out where they went wrong.
Now granted, my vet is overwhelmingly acknowledged as the most expensive in Tallahassee, which is okay with me, I think they’re also the best. No one disputes that. But let’s take just one item on the list, “emergency care”, $250 a year. My vet charges $250 just to say hello. Okay, I’m kidding, but see my post “Cat Language”, in which I describe the cost of surgery when my cat was injured. Surgery alone–not counting the medications, followup visits, etc. If your dog or cat has a true emergency, especially one that requires surgery, just go ahead and plan on a home equity loan.
Second: Rabies shot, $5. Is there anyone out there in Internet-land who can tell me they paid $5 for a rabies vaccination anytime since 1958? Abigail’s was $29.75 last Thursday. Distemper/Parvo, $15–Abigail’s was $29.76. Heartworm prevention–$50 a year? I think not.
And there’s some things they left out. For example, flea and tick prevention. In colder climates, you can actually get by with heartworm and and flea prevention only during the summer months. But here in Florida world, heartworm and flea prevention must be year-round. I recently bought flea prevention meds for my cat, and it was $80 and change for a six-month supply. Dogs have to be vaccinated for leptospirosis here ($20.98) and get Bordetella vaccinations every six months.
The estimate seems to assume that your dog will be healthy for it’s entire life. It will never get sick or have an infection or get arthritis when it’s older. It’s quite amazing how much trouble dogs can get themselves into when left to their own devices, even when in the presumed safety of their own homes and back yards. My little Basenji mix once ate an entire bag of Hershey’s Kisses, foil and all. My Doberman has a thyroid deficiency–$25 a month for that medication.
And, will you never go on vacation or travel for business? Unless you have a friend or family member who is willing to keep your dog, you have to kennel him or her or pay a pet sitter. Neither of those options is cheap.
So in closing, I repeat: sign me up for that alternate universe, where it will cost me $818 a year to have a dog. Much less three, and a cat to boot.