How much is it going to cost to get a new puppy completely vaccinated?
September 20, 2006 6:51 AM   Subscribe

How much is it going to cost to get a new puppy completely vaccinated?

Let's assume I get a dog that's 8-12 weeks old from a reputable breeder. They'll have had some shots. But where does it go from there? I haven't been able to find a comprehensive canine vaccination schedule on the web (and there has got to be one) that also gives ballpark costs. Also, there's the cost of spaying/nutering (and the optional Neuticles!). What other vet costs can I expect? And is it worth it to shop around? There are several animal hospitals/vet clinics in my local area. Can I expect to see a large variation in their prices? Ok, that's more than one question I guess. I would hate to get stressed about a new dog because of unexpected costs.
posted by GuyZero to Pets & Animals (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would just call some of the vets in your area. I think they usually have a package deal, and that way you would know ahead of time what the costs are. Puppies are not cheap. Think about adopting rather than buying from a breeder - you'll do a good deed and spend less money. If you're interested in a particular breed, find out if there are rescue societies for that breed around you. Not only will they be able to give you the lowdown on costs, but they might be able to get you a purebred without going the breeder route.
posted by bibbit at 6:57 AM on September 20, 2006

Most vets can estimate the first-year costs for you, and they will vary based on totally random criteria (though it does seem to be loosely correlated to the swankiness of the practice and neighborhood). You will probably also want to ask about their pricing for flea and heartworm preventative and then compare prices online - three months of Revolution from our vet, for example, is about $80 compared to $50ish online.

Shelters generally provide vaccinations and spay/neuter at reduced costs, which is yet another good reason to adopt from one. Rescue groups can often get you a discount on services through their vets, as well.

I hear widely different things about pet insurance, so maybe someone else can speak to that. I've certainly flown by the seat of my pants plenty, but it's definitely better to have a bit of savings put back strictly for the animal.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:11 AM on September 20, 2006

What bibbit said exactly. If you know there are many vets around call them and ask them all the things you typed above. I have bought a dog from a breeder and also "rescued" a dog from an organization that deals with a specific breed. The latter is cheaper in the short run, but you may have to wait. Either for the specific breed, or for a dog that you are sure you can care for. Some rescues are surrenders. Many others are hardship cases, and in the long run may cost more in vet visits and take more TLC. Be prepared.

Lastly, you *may* wish to look into pet insurance if you are very concerned about being hit with unexpected high-costs. Pets cost money. From food to toys to kennel stays if you travel. But the health of the animal is of utmost importance.

Good luck.
posted by terrapin at 7:21 AM on September 20, 2006

Costs for spaying operations vary based on the size of the dog, because they undergo general anesthesia.

Also, ask what the vet charges for a general examination, and add several of those onto your first-year costs. As a new puppy owner, you will invariably find yourself freaking out over something and running in to see the vet (this is good, though).

If you are really concerned about the extra costs, start an extra savings account and put a little bit in it each month. Keep it only for vet expenses, and your pet will always have a slush fund.
posted by MrZero at 7:26 AM on September 20, 2006

On the one hand, call the vets and ask. On the other, don't choose a vet based on price. It's better to pay more for the vet that is highly recomended by people you trust.
posted by winston at 7:28 AM on September 20, 2006

It was about $350 all said and done for our puppy, which included one "well puppy" visit right after we got her, and two additional visits for vaccines (she had one set of shots before we got her). We added a lyme disease vaccine to the standard course which made it a little more expensive. That $350 also included monthly heartworm tablets and Frontline. We had to pay an exam fee each visit in addition to the cost of the vaccines, so I bet it would be a lot cheaper if you got just the shots at Petco or another vaccination clinic.
posted by robinpME at 8:10 AM on September 20, 2006

Try to find a package deal for all the first year shots. That turned out to be the best deal for us.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 8:18 AM on September 20, 2006

Some of the big chain pet stores have veterinary clinics attached to them that will offer "Puppy Plans" which include an initial doctor's visit plus all of the required vaccinations and dewormings at a severely reduced cost vs. having them done a la carte. I did this with one of my dogs when I got her about a year and half ago through Vetco, the veterinary clinic attached to some Petco stores, and I think the total cost was somewhere between $150-200.

I have a new puppy that we got back in May that we've taken to a traditional vet who doesn't offer this type of "package" deal and it has definitely costs us quite a bit more
posted by The Gooch at 9:29 AM on September 20, 2006

I recently adopted a Labrador and here's the vaccination schedule my vet uses:

5 weeks: Parvo
6 & 9 weeks: "7-way vaccine" (includes adenovirus cough and hepatitis, distemper, parainfluenza, parvovirus, coronavirus*, Lyme disease*). *there's also a 5-way vaccine which doesn't include the later two--the use of which is determined by your local conditions. Your vet will know.
12 weeks: Rabies (the timing on this one can also be dictated by your local city/county dog licensing laws. Again, your vet will know.)
12 & 15 weeks: 5- (or 7-) way vaccine
monthly: heartworm, fleas

There's annual or semi-annual boosters after that.

Additionally, if you plan to have your dog boarded, the kennel will require proof of a Bordetella vaccination within the past 6 months.

Your dog's breeder should give you a written vaccination record along with any other documents from the dog's prior visits to the veterinarian (note that many professional breeders administer some vaccinations themselves but they should have noted the serial/lot number from the vaccine bottle or peeled off the label and stuck to the records). You'll want to take those documents to your newly chosen vet to be copied and included in your dog's records.

Definitely choose your vet based on recommendations of other pet owners vs. just basing your choice on cost of services. While there's no reason to pay way more than you have to, the relationship you establish with your vet will go on for some time and it's good to find someone you feel comfortable around. As many have said above, some vets offer "puppy packages" which include the appropriate shots, neutering and (in my vet's case, a RFID implant, which I also highly recommend). Personally, I haven't been impressed with vet care attached to big box pet stores: the staff turnover seems high and there was a lot of unnecessary upselling.

After my last two dogs passed away (Mutts, both. One needed ACL surgery at the age of 6, the other ended up needing radiation therapy for mouth cancer. Total cost for the above plus random other emergency/non-routine care across the 15 year lifespans of the two dogs was nearly $12K and these were two dogs that had a pretty cushy lifestyle) I opted for pet health insurance for the new puppy. VPI is the company that seems most recommended: hunt around for special offers for discounts on the premium the first year: I was offered one discount from AKC when I reg'd my pup and another from a dog food company (eukanuba, I think).
posted by jamaro at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oh! I forgot the deworming. how could I? Your breeder should have done one, but it's an ongoing thing (the fecal sample tells the tale. Or tail).
posted by jamaro at 11:19 AM on September 20, 2006

Vaccinations will depend in part on where you are. Different states require different vaccinations, and different vaccinations and bug-killing programs (frontline, interceptor, etc) are needed in different areas. I would ask the breeder what to expect. If the breeder doesn't know, run away.

What other vet costs can I expect?

The big one is to expect the unexpected. With any dog, there's a very real chance that something is going to crop up once that's going to cost $1000-2000 to deal with. Just be prepared to have this unexpected expense sometime, if that makes any sense at all -- kind of like a car where you know that there's some chance that you're gonna have to drop $1500 on a new gizmo sometime, but no man knows the day or the hour.

If you're in the US, I would not bother with pet insurance. We looked into it before picking up our pup, and found them to be very bad deals. So our pet insurance is just having a lot of room on a credit card -- if the shit hits the fan, we'll pay for it after he's treated (or euthanised).

And is it worth it to shop around?

It's worth it to shop around for a good vet. I dunno that I'd shop around for a cheap one, though I might avoid particularly ritzy ones in fancy-ass neighborhoods.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:48 AM on September 20, 2006

I also know some people who use the cheap vaccination clinics at the major pet stores, but I wouldn't recommend it for a small puppy. It's really best to space out some of the shots so they aren't taking such a large hit to their immune systems all at once.

I found my vet based on the recommendation of a relative, and while I know they are slightly more expensive than some other places, it's totally worth it. My vet is great with my dogs, very nice to me, and I feel that they have been given extraordinary care. They have also been very responsive in emergencies.

I have pet insurance for one of my three dogs, and so far it hasn't been that great. They will only pay specific amounts for a specific diagnosis. I sent in some bills equaling $361 and I got a check for $62. Of course, YMMV depending on what your dog is being treated for.

I can't stress enough my recommendation for adoption. Depending on the shelter/rescue, they will likely have some shots and be spayed/neutered when you get them. And while each dog is different, in my case the shelter pups have much better temperaments and overall health than my purebred. When I took my two shelter dogs in the other day the receptionist commented that she didn't even know I had other dogs, since she sees me in there with my purebred so often. Like I said, this is just my experience - there are plenty of people with friendly, healthy purebreds as well.
posted by thejanna at 11:53 AM on September 20, 2006

I also know some people who use the cheap vaccination clinics at the major pet stores, but I wouldn't recommend it for a small puppy. It's really best to space out some of the shots so they aren't taking such a large hit to their immune systems all at once

While I generally agree that the overall care at a veterinary clinic attached to a large pet store chain tends to be inferior to that of a traditional vet (which is why we went the latter route with our new puppy), in the interest of fairness it should be noted that they (the chain clinics) do space out the shots. When I used the Vetco puppy plan I paid one flat rate for all of the vaccinations/dewormings but came in several times over a period of months so the vaccinations were properly spaced out. It's not like they just gave her shot after shot after shot in one sitting or anything like that.
posted by The Gooch at 2:04 PM on September 20, 2006

If costs are a big concern to you, I second the notion of finding out about pet insurance and/or putting aside a savings account just for vet bills. Because stuff happens. You can be well within your planned budget, and then your puppy will do something like, oh, get hit by a car, or will swallow a rubber ball or a lead weight or -something-, or will break a leg, or just get some wierd thing, and then suddenly you're going to have a vet bill in the thousands. Vacccines, like the initial cost of the puppy, are really the most minor expenses in the lifetime ownership of an animal.
posted by Rubber Soul at 5:10 PM on September 20, 2006

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