By Sara Bristoll

We all love our pets. Yeah, they can drive us crazy at times (like when they ate that … fill in the blank here), but they’re a big part of our families. Adopting a pet is a big decision, and some are more expensive than others. A goldfish is going to cost less than a dog, for instance, but the reward of owning a dog is worth so much more than the cost. There’s something special about the wagging tail on a walk, the wet doggy kisses, or the snuggles on a cold night that these excited door greeters (and protectors) bring to a home. Before you rush out to find the perfect four-legged barking companion, understand that there is a cost to owing a dog. In addition to the time you’re going to have to devote to them (they are not solitary creatures), there are the actual expenses that come along with it.

In honor of National Dog Day, we asked one of our own team members to talk about the cost of owning her dog.

What type of dog do you have?

Zoe is a miniature schnauzer mix.

Was there a cost associated with purchasing her?

Yes, we paid $150 when we first adopted Zoe. We found her at the Giant Schnauzer Rescue, in their foster program. We had to meet with her several times, and they completed a background check and home check before they’d let us take her home. In addition to the cost of adopting her, we pay $17 a year to keep her registered with Maricopa County Animal Control. Along with complying with the law, the license tag is registered to our home – so that if she ever gets out, they bring her home first instead of to their shelter.

Tell us about her medical expenses.

Well, dogs have to go for checkups, just like humans do. We spend $36 a month (and $70 when we signed up 5 years ago) on a wellness plan that covers the cost of all of her vaccines and tests completed during the checkup, plus the cost of an annual teeth cleaning and any extra vet visits throughout the year. Some people prefer to pay only when they take their dogs in, but we’ve found it easier to budget this way.

What about food?

There’s cheap food, there’s specialized food and, if you’re really lucky like we were, there’s prescription dog food. Mini schnauzers are prone to bladder stones and kidney stones, so we keep Zoe on a prescription dog food that helps prevent those. It’s a much better option than surgery to remove a stone. Right now, we’re paying about $90 every two months for her dog food.

Does she get groomed regularly?

Yes, her dog breed doesn’t shed. So we have to get her groomed every eight to ten weeks. That’s about $45 each time. We also give her baths and brush her regularly, which is about $20 in supplies every year.

What other items do you spend money on?

Zoe’s a little spoiled by us and by my family. She gets at least a new toy every month ($3- $4), all-natural treats ($15 twice a year), and doggy ice cream treats ($4 a month). That’s on top of the collar and leash, tags, and bed we buy for her every year ($40).

Broken down like this, the cost looks pretty small. If you add it up, it comes out to over $100 a month at $1,400 per year. And that’s before any emergency vet bills or holiday spending. Make sure you’re ready to make the time and financial commitment before taking home a dog. They get more attached to our families than we get to them.