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The average cost of caring for a dog has increased steadily in recent years, but by taking the proactive approach to health and nutrition, you can still come out ahead. And you’ll have a healthier, happier dog in the process! This will be our main theme today.

But first, a glance back at the last post, and a look at the new article that came from it.

Clean Teeth = Sparkle + Health = Happy Dog  

Last time I wrote about dental hygiene and how it provides benefits that are more than cosmetic, going a long way towards the prevention of gum disease and the potential for worse things.

The new article covers dental hygiene and then, in addition, goes into how you can read the gums for their “health story” – a really useful diagnostic guide provided by nature!  (CLICK HERE TO SEE ARTICLE). At German Shepherd Place we want your dog to be healthy. Not only for the obvious quality-of-life benefit, but also to save you money! This brings us to today’s topic:

The Rising Cost of Caring for Your Dog

According to a new report*, in the last five years the average cost of caring for a dog has risen by 15% to $1,649.00 in the US. Of that figure, health care consumes $611.00. This figure jumps to $935.00 for a dog with a chronic condition**.

A couple of take-aways:

  1. The increase of 15% over 5 years may not seem excessive, until viewed against the fact that median income has decreased in that period by 7.5%!***
  2. If you can keep your dog healthy, your care expenses should be less than the $1,649.00 average.
  3. According to the report*, you’ll save $324.00 on vet visits and medication by avoiding chronic conditions. Below I’ll outline other areas where you can save.
  4. A proactive approach to looking after your German Shepherd is a good counter-offensive to rising costs.

Proactive Approach to Canine Health

At German Shepherd Place we are advocates of proactive health care for your dog. This means the prevention of sickness and disease as opposed to reactive health care which involves treating conditions after they’ve already occurred. The beauty of being proactive is that it saves money while providing the best quality of life for your canine best friend.

As a conscientious German Shepherd owner, what then are the ways in which you can be proactive in caring for your dog? Some factors fall within your control, while others may not.  Here’s a review of several things you can do to keep your expenses down, at the same time as enhancing the quality of your German Shepherd’s life:

  • Know the health indicators you can observe in your dog. For our Home CheckupCLICK HERE (then scroll halfway down). For the Gum Health Check, CLICK HERE. By routinely performing these simple checks, you’ll stand a good chance of picking up early on things that call for a vet visit. Early diagnosis = easier treatment = less expense.
  • Keep your dog’s teeth clean. This is as easy as forming the habit, plus investing five minutes, a few times a week. See our article Your German Shepherd’s Teeth & Gums; CLICK HERE. Keeping a dog’s teeth clean is one of the easiest preventive, or proactive, health measures for your pooch.
  • Be aware that the quality of food you give your dog is likely, over time, to have a profound effect on his or her health and wellbeing. Our four food articles, including the one on Raw Food CLICK HERE  provide information on good versus poor quality food. There’s no question that better quality food costs more. But it’s probable that the positive outcomes for your dog – and your pocketbook – will outweigh the extra expense, possibly by a wide margin.
  • A good health and long-life winning combo is achievable for your dog. Those who buy their German Shepherd from a quality kennel know how expensive such pups can be, especially if they come trained, and all the more if they’re bred from recent German lines.  With a life expectancy between 10 and 13 years, a healthy GSD will likely make it to the upper end of the scale.

Consider these hypothetical examples: We’ll look at two different dogs, one costing $2,000.00 and the other $6,000.00. If they both live for 10 years, they’ll “amortize” at $200.00 and $600.00 a year (the purchase price divided by the years of the dogs’ lives). Add 3 years to their life for a healthy dog, and save $600.00 and $1,800.00 per dog respectively. This assumes a similar purchase of a new pup with the passing of the former one.

I’m aware that this number-crunching exercise can seem rather cold and theoretical – reducing our beloved German Shepherds to a commodity to be invested in and ultimately replaced. Of course, you and I know better than that! Nevertheless, for some owners, the original cost of their German Shepherd can be a significant expense.

Working together, a regimen of home health-checks, regular teeth-cleaning and a quality diet can greatly enhance the quality of life for your special canine at the same time as controlling your costs of ownership. A real win-win for all concerned!


Mark Mulock



*American Pet Products Association Reports 2007-2008, 2013-2014 – http://www.americanpetproducts.org/

** Chronic conditions surveyed were Addison’s disease, arthritis, cancer, Cushing’s disease, diabetes, heart disease, hip dysplasia, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, kidney disease, and urinary incontinence.

***March 2007 vs. February 2013 pre tax and adjusted for inflation and seasonal factors – http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/03/29/chart-median-household-incomes-have-collapsed-during-the-recession/