Credit: Envato Elements

You may have considered dog ownership for a long time and think that you’re able to manage the responsibilities needed, but before you give in to their sad puppy eyes and bring one home, you may also want to consider the financial aspect of owning a dog

From one-off expenses to food and basic medical expenses, we break down the real cost of owning and upkeeping a furry ball of cuteness in Singapore.

Before we begin, for the purpose of the calculations involved, we’ll base it on Pebbles, a sterilised female toy poodle. She is turning three soon, has no pre-existing medical issues but is a slightly picky eater. Let’s look at the costs involved.

Initial one-off expenses

Starting from the very top, there are some initial one-off expenses that you will incur the moment you decide to bring a dog home.

Initial one-off expenses Price Cost for Pebbles
Cost to adopt a dog Under $350
Cost to purchase a dogFrom $1,000 $3,000
Vaccination (once a month till they turn 3 months old) From $38 per vaccination excluding consultation fees Included in the purchase cost
Sterilisation From $118 $300
Microchipping From $50 Included in the purchase cost
Bowls, leash, bed, cage and other accessories From $100 $200

Cost to adopt or purchase a dog

The cost of dog adoption in Singapore ranges from $70 to $350, depending on breed, age and how long they have been living in the shelter. Some shelters include the price of vaccinations, sterilisation, microchipping, de-worming and health check-ups in their adoption fees. 

Adoption should always be your first choice, but if you’re unable to, there’s the option to purchase one. Just be sure to patronise a reputable pet shop or breeder, and don’t be afraid to ask questions regarding its parents.

For the context of this article, Pebbles received her three vaccination shots and was microchipped before she was purchased from a pet shop for $3,000. 

Vaccinations

Just like human babies, puppies need vaccinations too! The most common one protects them against distemper, parvovirus and canine infectious hepatitis. Puppies should ideally be vaccinated once a month until they reach 3 months old, after which its frequency drops to once a year. 

Microchipping

Similar to how identification cards work, microchipping ensures that your dog is identifiable if it gets lost. Every microchip is tagged with a specific number, which is needed when you’re registering or renewing your dog’s license. 

Sterilisation

Sterilisation costs a little more for female dogs as more time is needed to perform the surgery. Assuming that Pebbles doesn’t meet with any complications during surgery or need additional consultations and tests, her sterilisation will cost $300. 

Bowls, leash, bed and other accessories

There are some basic accessories that every dog needs — they include a water bowl, food bowl, leash, collar, ID tag, bed with a blanket (debatable), cage, towels, toys, and the list goes on.

For this, you can find really affordable ones on Shopee, TaoBao and Qoo10 that cost just a couple of dollars each. But, if you want your dog to lead the lush life, then the budget for this can easily go up to $1,000 or more.

Splurging a little on basic accessories for Pebbles (because she deserves a proper bed with all the frills) will cost around $300. This brings the total for Pebbles’ initial one-off expenses to $3,600. 

Credit: @yihchang/Twenty20

Food and treats

The smaller the dog, the more affordable its daily expenses will be, and this is most obvious when it comes to food and treats. No longer limited to just dried kibble and canned wet food from brands like Pedigree or Science Diet, there are now many options that include freeze-dried and frozen raw food or dry kibble that are by-product free and grain-free. Of course, better food quality also means higher costs. 

Our calculations below are based on the average price of items from three online pet shops and portions are based on the corresponding product’s recommended feeding instructions.  

Type of food and treats Price (approximately) Cost per day for Pebbles
Dry kibbleFrom $25 per 2.25kg bag$1.09 (100g)
Wet From $1.50 per 100g box$4.50 (3 trays)
Freeze-driedFrom $58 per 500g bag$7.25 (60g)
Frozen rawFrom $38 for 7 packets$2.7 (½ packet)
Home-cooked
(minced chicken, pork or beef with fresh vegetables)
From $10 per week$1.43 
TreatsFrom $10 per packet

$0.67 (2 packets every month)

Do note that monthly food and treats expenditure also depends on your dog’s health, sensitivities and level of pickiness (believe it or not, not all dogs love to eat).

Assuming that Pebbles is a slightly picky eater and takes a mix of dry kibble and home-cooked food for meals, and consumes a minimal amount of treats, her food and treats will cost approximately $1.93 per day and $705 a year.

Medical expenses

In general, dogs are quite resilient, but they do require some help along the way. This includes their annual vaccination (booster shots), monthly heartworm, flea and parasite prevention treatments and bi-annual deworming. 

Medical expenses Price (approximately) Cost per year for Pebbles
Annual vaccinationFrom $38, excluding consultation$48, including consultation
Heartworm, flea and parasite prevention treatmentsFrom $10 per month$120
Deworming pillsFrom $5, once every 6 months $10

Basic medical expenses should cost around $178 a year for Pebbles as she is a young dog with no pre-existing medical issues. 

Grooming

The frequency of grooming depends on your pet’s fur, the thicker or longer their fur is, the more frequently they need to be sent for grooming. On average, this should be done once every two to three months. 

For dogs, there are usually two types of grooming options available — basic or full. Basic grooming entails nail clipping and filing, cleaning ears and eyes, shower, shaving of the belly, underpaw and sanitary areas. Full grooming includes everything listed above for basic grooming with the addition of trimming and cutting.

Here’s the average cost of a basic and full grooming session.

Type of grooming service Price per grooming session (approximate)
Basic groomingFrom $30 for small breeds
Full groomingFrom $50 for small breeds
Pet transport (to and fro)From $20

*Prices listed above do not include additional charges for demat, deflea or detick services. 

Dog grooming is expensive, but just take a look at the amount of work that goes into it. Not to mention, depending on how cooperative your dog is with the groomer, each session takes at least two hours to complete. Unless you’ve got all the tools, skills and patience to groom your own dog, you’ll need to factor in professional grooming costs.  

Since Pebbles is a toy poodle, she requires grooming once every two months and classifies as a small breed at most groomers. Including transport, a full grooming session will cost approximately $70 and that adds up to $420 a year. 

Miscellaneous

Apart from the above expenses, there are a few miscellaneous recurring expenses involved and they include annual dog license, toys, training classes, pet insurance and general cleaning supplies. 

Miscellaneous expenses Price (approximate) Cost per year for Pebbles
Dog license $35 for 3 years (sterilised)
$230 for 3 years (non-sterilised)
Get a 10% rebate when you make payment via GIRO, online or through AXS.
$31.50 for 3 years
$10.50 per year
Toys

From $10 per toy

$120 (1 new toy a month)


Training schoolFrom $580 for 8 lessons
($72.50 per class)
She’s a good dog who doesn’t need obedience classes.
Pet insuranceFrom $74.90 per year$74.90
Hygiene products From $20 a month$240

Annual dog license

According to law, all dogs must be registered with the Animal & Veterinary Service for traceability in the event of any disease outbreak. Prices vary depending on the duration of license, dog’s age, number of dogs owned and if they have been sterilised. 

Since Pebbles is sterilised, her three-year dog license will cost $31.50 (after 10% discount) and $10.50 a year. 

Toys

When it comes to the cost of toys, let’s look at treating your canine companion every two months or so (this also depends on how fast your pet destroys the toys). Squeaky, bouncy and even interactive ones, they are important in your dog’s mental development and provide entertainment so that your shoes, furniture and soft toys remain intact. 

Being a small dog, Pebbles only needs one new toy a month. Let’s suppose it costs $10 a toy – this works out to about $120 a year. 

Training school

Sending your pooch to training school is a good option if you’re a first-time dog owner. These lessons will not only teach your dog basic commands, social interaction and potty training, but also address behavioural problems such as separation anxiety and excessive chewing.

In the process, this will build a stronger bond between you and your dog. That said, you should be prepared for an investment as prices start from $580 for eight hour-long classes. 

Credit: @hlryndrsn/Twenty20

Pet insurance

Still a relatively new product, pet insurance policies are similar to personal accident insurance for humans, which is to say that it is a term insurance without any cash or surrender value.

Depending on the insurance provider and policy, it provides coverage for accidents, third-party liability, loss of dog due to theft, death, chemotherapy, and more. Basic pet insurance prices start from $74.90, with more comprehensive plans charging up to $750 a year.

To safeguard Pebbles from misadventures and missteps, she will be insured with a basic pet insurance plan that charges an annual premium of $74.90. 

Hygiene products

This refers to hygiene products like shampoo, conditioner, deodorant (yes, some dogs have body odour too), toothpaste, ear cleaning solutions, wet wipes, and so on. Their costs differ depending on brand, size of packaging and frequency of use. 

Since Pebbles is a small dog, she doesn’t really go through cleaning supplies that quickly. Based on the average prices of the above-mentioned hygiene products found on online pet shops, it will cost about $20 a month and $240 a year. 

Conclusion

Owning a dog isn’t cheap in Singapore, even if your intention is to get a small breed. Based on our conservative calculations, owning a toy poodle like Pebbles will easily set you back by about $1,748.40 a year. This amount does not even include initial one-off expenses of $3,600 or medical emergency costs (should there be one). 

Expenses Approximate cost for Pebbles a year
Food and treats$705
Medical $178
Grooming$420
Miscellaneous $445.40
Total cost of owning a dog for a year$1,748.40
Total cost of owning a dog for 10 years$17,484

Aside from maintenance costs, bringing a furry friend home also requires time (a lot of it), attention, care, patience and a firm hand to teach basic discipline and commands.

If you find yourself unable to fulfil at least four of the five attributes, you should definitely reconsider the idea of owning a dog. 

SingSaver is a personal finance comparison platform that allows users to easily compare credit cards, personal loans, and insurance for free, while helping empower people to lead healthier financial lives through increased financial literacy.

Text: Geralyn Ong/SingSaver