Financially Planning for Puppyhood


So you just got a puppy and you’ve heard that there are some things you need to do for your him/her to get off on the right foot. Food is the first thing you had to think about, and truth be told, you already bought a bag before you found this post. No problem. You had to feed your puppy something after you got home from the breeder’s house. But you know you’ll need more than food, and when you think about collars, toys, leashes, a dog bed… vaccines, a crate, carpet cleaner and neutering, you’re starting to see more dollar signs than you anticipated at first.

Why didn’t someone tell you up front how much this was going to cost? How much is it going to cost? You want the best food, but there are some *really* expensive foods out there. How much are routine shots for your puppy? Do you really need a crate? How many veterinary visits will you need? Wow. Wouldn’t it have been nice if there were some centralized list you could have read that would have told you how much to plan for?

Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic to the rescue!

Let’s break up this conversation into three categories:

  1. Warm, Fuzzy Wants and Fashion Desires
  2. Home Needs
  3. Preventive Medicine Needs

I’ll address Warm, Fuzzy Wants and Fashion Desires first because this will be the easiest to cover. What leash you purchase or in what attire you choose to dress your pet is completely optional. We’ve seen some puppy owners who have no regard for this category, but others totally splurge here. It’s your choice. But… don’t spend all your resources here in that first trip to the pet store without first budgeting for the next two categories.

Home Needs consists of providing fresh water (nearly free of cost) and quality food (will certainly be some cost). There are more good diets out there than bad diets, and some of the more costly diets have the best labeling and marketing, not necessarily the best nutrition. Everybody has an opinion about whether dogs should eat grain-free this or no-byproduct that. Here’s our take based on what we’ve learned from those in the know: Dog’s benefit from some grains, as there is good nutritional value in some level of grains; and there is great nutritional value in what is defined as byproducts. Choosing a good, reputable brand, such as Royal Canin, Hill’s, Iams, Eukanuba, Purina (though we’re not huge Beneful fans, the other lines are very good), will get you off on the right foot. Choosing Blue Buffalo, Halo, Innova and other such brands is okay, too, just be prepared to spend more for debatably-better nutrition.

I’ll raise the idea of microchipping here, because it’s not exactly a home need as food is, and it’s not preventive medicine, but it is a really good idea. Implanting cost ranges from $40 to $50 in most places, and there is a small annual fee associated with most of the brands for premium services. There is no annual fee for simply having your registration remain current.

Preventive Medicine Needs should not be shortchanged, as it is critical to preparing your puppy for a healthy life. We’ve addressed the topic of which vaccines are needed. You can visit that post for the specifics, but the take-home message for vaccines is: protect your puppy for the life-threatening diseases & for the quality-of-life threatening diseases to which he/she may be exposed.

Let’s talk cost, or more accurately, let’s talk expectations. It is important to point out that your veterinarian is the best source for learning specific dollar amounts for these services. Each veterinary clinic sets their fees independently based upon a variety of factors.

For your financial planning purposes, it is important to know that your puppy will need to be seen by your veterinarian every 3 to 4 weeks beginning at 6 to 8 weeks of age until your puppy has passed 16 weeks of age. These intervals are important, and based upon a puppy’s immune system needs and requirements. They are also important because regular examinations allow your veterinarian to track your puppy’s progress. At these visits, one often gets what one pays for. Low cost in this area will translate to quick shots and little time given to conversation about what’s important for you and your puppy.

There are a variety of reasons why routine veterinary examinations are important for puppies, one of which is to be sure that the baby teeth are being lost appropriately and that the adult teeth are emerging appropriately. If a hernia or an open fontanelle is present, these need to be observed and monitored, as well. What if a puppy has a murmur? Your veterinarian will be able to determine if and how serious this might be. Some like to do their own “vetting,” but don’t pursue anything less than the best for your young friend.

Getting back to immunizations, your puppy will need…

  • 3 to 4 Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvo/Parainfluenza vaccines
  • 2 Leptospirosis vaccines (often combined with the final 2 DHPP in a puppy series)
  • 2 Bordetella vaccines
  • 1 Rabies vaccine
  • + any necessary additional regional immunizations

Your puppy ought to have at least 2 fecal exams show no parasites, so plan on at least 2 fecal examinations. Sometimes puppies will acquire Giardia from their initial environment, and the cost for diagnosis of Giardia is often additional to a routine fecal examination.

On the parasite front, plan on purchasing monthly heartworm preventive at the outset. Pharmaceutical companies will often provide veterinary clinics with samples of puppy-sized heartworm preventive for a puppy’s first visit, so ask your veterinarian if a sample is available.

There are many reasons why it is good and healthy for puppies to be spayed/neutered before they reach sexual maturity, and this cost should be budgeted at the outset. (If you want your giant breed male to be neutered after a year or so, you still ought to plan on the cost of neutering at that time, and chances are the cost will be more given the differences in neutering a 70# dog and a 120# dog.)

The first year of dog-ownership is often (though not always) the costliest. There are many responsibilities that seem to come in a short period of time, but these responsibilities are of the utmost importance if you desire the best for your puppy.

In summary, before your take on a puppy, inquire of a veterinarian you trust how much the following are going to cost:

  • Routine examinations and vaccines

  • Parasite testing and control
  • Spay/neuter
  • Potentially unforseen costs that can tend to pop up from time to time during puppyhood

If you account for these items beforehand, you’ll coast through puppyhood with ease knowing you’ve prepared for most of the major stuff. Still have questions? Give us a call at 330-929-3223, and we’ll be happy to address any question or concern you may have.

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