For Bianca Clare, Elmo is worth all the money in the world.
For Bianca Clare, Elmo is worth all the money in the world.

Can you afford puppy love?

By MEL MARTIN

IF you're considering getting that cute puppy your kids have been nagging you about, you might need to see a financial planner first.

A UK pet insurer, Churchill, has estimated that the average dog can cost up to $48,000 over its lifetime.

Jock (pictured) is only four months old and he's already cost owner Sarah Hill close to $500.

There were the initial vaccinations and set-up expenses, and today, the cattle dog cross kelpie puppy is getting a microchip and another round of vaccinations.

But Sarah is sceptical about spending nearly $50,000 on Jock.

"I don't think every owner would spend that much, although some people probably would," she said. "For example, I'm not planning to send Jock to a grooming salon!"

But Sarah says owning a dog is rewarding and that it's worth spending some money on Jock.

"Puppy pre-school has made me a better owner. I wasn't much of a dog person before we got him, but I miss him when he's not around, which surprised me."

Susanne Bark, who runs the puppy pre-school at Pacific Vetcare in Sawtell, has a more conservative estimate of the cost of a dog, saying it is more likely to cost around $1000 to $1500 per year, not including food.

First you've got to buy the dog, which can range from nothing for a dog out of the paper to $180 at the RSPCA, to about $2000 for a pure bred dog with papers.

Then it's off to the vet for vaccinations, microchipping, desexing, heartworming, and worming (although RSPCA dogs include all of these expenses, and dogs from breeders would be vaccinated, heartwormed and wormed).

Then you might want to consider puppy pre-school and later on, obedience classes.

Then there are the ongoing costs of feeding, annual vet check and vaccination, regular worming and heartworming, and emergencies such as your dog getting sick or injured ? for which you can take out insurance.

Mind you, dogs are still cheaper than children, and you won't need a babysitter if you're planning a night out. And, besides, you might decide that the rewards are worth more than the costs ? most pet owners would!



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