Being a dog parent is a rewarding experience. What’s better than having a four-legged best friend by your side? It does, however, require a large level of commitment of both time and money. One of the most frequent questions I get asked is exactly how much it costs to have a pup. This answer varies widely.
While calculating the average for every individual family and dog would be impossible, I dug into my personal budget to take a look at every financial transaction I made from January – December 2020 to support and care for my pack of four dogs. The answer was higher than I expected but gives some great insight on some general numbers on the basic average cost of owning a dog in Connecticut.
How I Calculated the Cost
To calculate the average cost of Connecticut dog ownership, I used all of the transactions that supported my own mixed breed dogs, which as of 2020, were ages 1, 2, 3 and 12 and with a weight range of 25 – 70 pounds. The median of these ages would be 2.5 year old and the average 3.5 years old. So for this purpose, let’s assume we’re talking about the costs of caring for a young adult dog, around 3, and about 50 pounds.
What is the Average Cost of Owning a Dog in Connecticut?
I will break down this cost below, but for those of you looking for the answer, my calculations bring me to an average cost of $1,350 per year per dog for the very basics. As we will see, this number can be much higher or lower depending on the type of dog, age, breed, your budget and lifestyle.
The Costs Used to Calculate the Average
For this example, I used only recurring expenses – expenses that occur more than once and often annually or year-round. These can be broken down in to the following categories:
Veterinary Services (37.6%)
The biggest cost for my pack in 2020 was veterinary services. This included wellness visits, vaccines, any visits for injuries (hello, broken, bleeding nail!) and one low cost monthly medication. Visits with your veterinarian are necessary for your dog to live a long, healthy life. Frequency of visits will depend on your dog’s health, age, medications and whether you need non-routine visits for accidents or illness. Young puppies that need series of booster vaccines and elderly dogs typically require the most frequent visits.
A dog’s gotta eat! Feeding your dog is a non-negotiable cost that can add up over time. The food I used in this example is Purina Pro Plan which I pay about $1.34/pound for. Exact cost will depend on your dog’s breed, size and the type of food you choose to feed. A large dog with severe allergies that needs a prescription diet, for example, will cost much more to feed than a small terrier who thrives eating Dog Chow.
Parasite Preventatives (18.8%)
Preventative measures for heartworm, ticks and fleas are an annual cost that should be factored into the average cost of owning a pup. In this example, Seresto collars and Heartguard chewables are used for prevention. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best type of parasite protection for your dog.
While pet insurance is an optional cost, it is something I consider crucial to pet ownership. Insurance can save you a lot of money (and potentially save your dog’s life) if your dog were to need expensive medical care or medications. Insurance costs vary based on size, breed and age. In this example I only included the payments made for insurance and did not subtract any reimbursements I received from my insurance company.
Pet supplies in this category can vary from dog treats and toys to leashes and crates. I am a longtime dog owner and had much of what I needed in 2020. Not needing to invest in crates, beds or other expensive items kept this number much lower than a first time puppy or dog owner might experience.
State Dog Licenses (1%)
Connecticut state law requires all pet owners to license their dogs each June. The cost of registration depends on whether your dog is spayed or neutered. An altered dog costs $8 while a dog that has not been spayed or neutered costs $19.
Costs Not Included in this Calculation
There are countless factors that go into the cost of owning a dog in any given year. We talked about a relatively healthy, young adult dog for this example of calculating the annual average cost of owning a dog in Connecticut. There are a number of expected and some unexpected, one-time costs that can make any given year an outlier.
Adoption Fees or Purchase Price
Unless you find your dog on the side of the road, adopting a dog from a rescue or purchasing one from a reputable breeder costs money. This can range from a couple hundred dollars to… a lot! This is a one-time cost and was not factored into the average annual cost.
Spaying and Neutering
Fortunately, spaying and neutering your dog only needs to be done once. This procedure ranges greatly in price depending on your dog’s age and whether it’s done in a low cost clinic, at your regular veterinarian’s office or in an emergency situation. Complications, such as a dog with an undescended testicle or a dog in heat, can also make this procedure more expensive.
Some dogs will go their whole lives never needing a surgery. Others may need multiple. For this example, we assumed our dog did not need surgery.
Dog Walking and Pet Sitting
Having a relationship with a professional dog walker or pet sitter will be crucial for when you want to travel or spend a long day in the office. This cost is very particular to your lifestyle and travel habits and would be nearly impossible to estimate – especially in this work-from-home world! While we would love to speak with you about the best care options for your pup, we left these costs out and stuck to the basics.
I didn’t need to work with a trainer in 2020 so there isn’t once included in this calculation! The cost of a trainer can range from a $100 puppy class to thousands of dollars spend on a “Board and Train” program.
I have short hair, easy-to-care-for coated dogs and take care of their baths and brushing myself. If you have a pup like a Goldendoodle, however, expect to budget for grooming multiple times per year. A reputable groomer can help you develop a schedule to keep your dog looking his best!
In Conclusion… Dogs Are Expensive!
My dogs used in this example live very happy lives but certainly not the fanciest. (…don’t tell the puppy but she has a hand-me-down collar on!). Even being budget-conscious, they still cost me an average of $1,350 EACH per year! We have to remind you one more time, however, the average cost of owning a dog in Connecticut will vary widely based on countless factors ranging from age, breed, and health to your lifestyle and preferences.
One thing is for sure – owning a dog is a huge financial commitment and should not be taken lightly. A dog is commitment of over a decade of your life and inevitably will need more medical care as they get older. But, expensive or not… we think they’re more than worth it 🙂
To learn how RCO Pet Care Care can help you with your pet care needs, check out our services, contact us or call us at (203) 641-2428. We are proud to service Middlebury, Naugatuck, Newtown, Oxford, Seymour, Southbury, Thomaston, Waterbury, Watertown and Woodbury, CT. If you’re outside of our service area, we’re happy to help you find a reputable, professional pet care provider. We’ve got your tail!