So, I Got A Dog. And This Is What It Cost.

If you are following me on any form of social media, you know by now that I got a dog. (I have been attempting to be judicious in my posting about her, but as I am very much in the honeymoon stage with this perfect little ball of fluff, there is no getting around the gushing for now.) And just in case you were still in the dark on the details, her name is Mona, she is 12 weeks old and just under three pounds, she is a mutt with a havamalt mom and a pomeranian dad, and she is wonderful.

We had been thinking about getting a pup for the longest time, but as I was still working in an office and Marc is gone four days a week, it just seemed logistically (and financially) a terrible idea. (I’m of the general opinion that if you have to pay for a daily dog walker, you probably shouldn’t get one, as those things are absurdly expensive.) It wasn’t until I was working at home and Marc was with a client that is keeping him in New York City for the next couple months that it really felt like the right time. I started searching seriously again this week, following up on all of my leads (where I used to only window-browse), and Mona came up pretty quickly.

The thing about getting a dog for us is that we had a set of pretty conflicting criteria. For being in an apartment in NYC, we needed something quite small. But we also did not want to buy a dog from a store under pretty much any circumstance, and little ones can be hard to find in rescue. (You’d be surprised how competitive the rescues can be for a lot of the small breeds.) We weren’t set on the idea of a puppy — a senior dog, in fact, was another great option for our situation — but were still having a hard time with places like Petfinder. And a breeder was out of the question, too, as I was not about to spend 3,000 dollars on a purebred maltese while running a blog called The Financial Diet. No, thank you.

We found Mona on Craigslist. Her story was an accident, but the happiest kind possible. Her mom got preggo by the neighbor’s intrepid and horny pomeranian who jumped the fence, and she delivered a sizeable litter. The owners are huge dog lovers (the human mom started crying and told us to love Mona as we were leaving, and showed off all of her dog’s favorite sweaters), so they have cared for the six pups like children. And as it happened, the mom dog ran into some serious medical issues after birth (she’s okay now), so they sunk a lot of money into vet bills and ended up bottle feeding all six puppies like actual babies for the first month or so. For 800 dollars, we brought home Mona and a bag of supplies, and I couldn’t be happier to have paid that price to a good, dog-loving home who took such good care of her. (Seriously, there’s no puppy on earth more loving and friendly with both new humans and other dogs.)

Before we got her, I knew it would cost money — both up front, and every month — and that was part of our hesitation. Marc and I had a lot of serious talks about budgeting (our “going out” budget right now is just… still recovering from the holidays), and making room for a puppy in our lives. I took care of some logistical things that I’d been putting off, and started cooking about twice as much as I was before (one of the easiest and most effective ways to save tons of money). Things weren’t “perfectly ready,” budget-wise, when we found Mona, but things never are. The point is that we were making the right steps to welcome her into our lives, and were in a very “time to get a dog and be serious” mentality. Having a few big things checked off my to-do list before she arrived made everything that much sweeter.

And so, in the interest of sharing the profound wisdom I’ve gained in my two days of dog ownership, i thought I’d give you a breakdown of what it cost me to this point. It won’t be the exact numbers you can expect, but if you are considering getting a pup, and the expenses are a concern, this is a general idea of how much it costs to go from zero to dog. (Also, bear in mind that I work at home and therefore do not need to pay for any help/dogsitting. However, since she cannot go outside until she finishes her shots, she’s training — very successfully! — on wee pads, which is a cost you may not have.)

Dog: 800, adopted from a family. Came with blanket, wee pads, a large bag of the food she’s been raised on, a dish, her first vet trip with vaccinations, a sweater, and a few other knick-knacks.

Initial supplies: 250. This includes a small crate, a bed, an assortment of toys, a bag of treats, shampoo, hair brush, eye wipes, tooth cleaning bones, wee pads, new food dishes with a liner to put under them, and cold-weather vest.

Scheduled vet trips: 100. Booster shots, basic checkup, etc.

Food: 50/month. She’s on a fancy-ish brand because her former family and I are deeply untrusting of most pet foods. A lot of people seem to spend on good kibble, and I am one of them. She eats like a bird though, and it takes her two days to get through a decent-sized handful of dry food.

Spaying: 125

The utterly pure feeling of joy I get when I look at her perfect face: Priceless.

  • Kelli Richard

    Mona is absolutely adorable! My dog Ellie Sue is a Jack Russell/Poodle mix (“jackapoo”) and she has some issues with her eyes constantly being weepy, then drying on the sides of her nose and being super gross eye boogers. My boyfriend’s family owns a local pet store and recommended Angel Eyes. It’s a powder you add to the food and they like it. A little pricey but lasts a long while. Just in case Mona ends up with the same issue as Ellie, I thought I’d make a recommendation! Happy puppy-raising!

  • Liz

    While this is probably a good estimate of the base cost of a dog, it doesn’t really talk about the whole picture. Dog owners must also have funds in case their dog becomes ill. An “emergency” fund of at least a few thousand dollars is a good idea. What if she jumps off the bed and breaks her leg and needs xrays and surgery? What if she eats something she isn’t supposed to and can’t pass it on her own, so she needs emergency abdominal surgery (less likely with a small breed dog, but still possible)? What if she gets an ear infection and a veterinarian needs to do an ear cytology and prescribe antibiotics? This last one alone can cost about $200 and might be a reoccuring episode if it is due to an underlying allergic genetic condition. Dogs can be much more expensive than people originally think. It seems like you are trying to say that dogs are very affordable, but I think people who have no savings or are living paycheck-by-paycheck should maybe think twice before taking on the responsibility of dog ownership.