How much is that doggy in the window? Personal finance editor Amanda Morrall with a brutal look at dog ownership costs and five ways to tame the beastly expense.

How much is that doggy in the window? Personal finance editor Amanda Morrall with a brutal look at dog ownership costs and five ways to tame the beastly expense.

Personal finance editor Amanda Morrall with five ways to tame dog ownership costs

By Amanda Morrall (email)

With dog registration fees in Auckland set to rise on average $50 (barring a change of policy in the new Auckland City Council's new licensing schedule) I thought I'd look at a few ways to save costs for those intent on buying.

But first here's a break down of what costs you can expect to fork out for Rover (or in my case Mazzy).

Start-up costs:

Dog:  The range is huge but have a look on line or at the pet shop and you'll see a broad range anywhere between $600 and $1500 plus depending on the breed and how exotic.

Vaccinations: $70-$100 per set with three sets required

Kennel: I bought mine on Trade-Me for a negotiated lower price of $70

Bowls: $50 depending on where you buy them and how posh

Collars and Leads: Big range depending on where you buy them and if new or used. $50 apx.

Desexing: $170-$285 

Microchipping: $60 apx

Total $1070-2115

On-going costs

Annual registration: for a desexed dog $120 or $160 for those with their bits intact.

Food: $50-100 per month

Kennel ($20-$30 per day) for holidays

Grooming: $80 per session

Day care: $25 half day $40 full day

Treats: $50 a year

Flea treatment $160 

Worm treatment: $16-32 per year

Insurance: $26-36 per month

The figures above are just a rough guide. Obviously, costs will vary hugely depending on the size and breed of the dog and how much spoiling they get.

Here's my #1 tip for taming costs: Buy second-hand 

Hypocritical of me to say (I have a pure bred) but hindsight is 20/20. You can save a life and save yourself a bundle by getting a rescue dog at the shelter. It costs about $250 for a desexed, vaccinated and micro-chipped dog. See Auckland SPCA Adoption Centre profiles here.

In 2010/2011, there were 3,300 dogs put down in Auckland alone, so plenty on the market.

Here's five other tips:

1) Grooming

Do it yourself. It may not be as pretty but you'll save a fortune. The recommended grooming schedule for my dog is every two months. At $80 a pop, I figured Mazzy's haircost would exceed my own. Instead I bought a $12 brush that was on sale by 25%. I'm still trying to get a handle on matt's and knots, but I'll get there.

2) Microchipping

Costs vary widely depending on what postal code you live in and where you decide to get the job done. Mazzy's sister's parent took their dog to the Waitakere pound where they did it for $20. I wasn't so lucky at the Northern Animal Shelter. It cost $48, but was still cheaper than the $60 I was going to get charged at the vet. 

3) Doggy daycare

I went this route for a while when the puppy was young and I couldn't bear to leave her alone all day. Great option for those for whom money is not an issue. This isn't me. Half day rates are $25 and $40 for a full day, although there are some concessions for pass cards. Instead, I pay my wee neighbour $2 a pop to come after school to take her out for a pee break and cuddle. He's happy, she's happy, I'm saving, heaps. 

4) Fleas

I'm obviously not a vet so don't take my advice on this one. But after pricing out the recommended course of flea treatments (a topical toxic solution applied every four weeks regardless of whether they have them or not) I decided to forego this. I may live to regret this in the wake of an infestation that could potentially be more expensive to fumigate. Nonetheless, I bought a $10 organic shampoo that has ostensibly has a flea deterrent agent in it. I estimate my savings at $120 a year. (Eds: Looks like the corner office is all yours and all yours alone)

5) Bulk food

Like food shopping, whenever I see a bargain or special I stock up. I have my dog on a raw diet, which works out the same as a vet prescribed pet food for dogs, maybe a bit cheaper. Buying bones and chicken mince at the butcher also reduces my food costs. 

6) Training

Bonus for me, I started dating my dog trainer, after Mazzy graduated from puppy pre-school. Given her temperment, and mine, I've saved myself a nervous breakdown and several hundreds I might other wise have spent to get a handle on behaviour issues.  She no longer barks, at me, for which I am very happy.


To read other Take Fives by Amanda Morrall click here. You can also follow Amanda on Twitter@amandamorrall

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You are going to regret your flea decision.
As for me, my second hand dog is the best dog I have ever had. I highly recommend them as a "breed".

Got to take a chance sometimes, I  had 5 dogs when I had the farms I miss them, my best mates :-(
Mindy Gledhill,!

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