For the love of you pet: How much will that new puppy really cost?

By John Beck
Dec. 13, 2012 at 6:13 a.m.

We purchased a puppy for our children for Christmas. I hate to admit it, but it was an impulse buy. I couldn't resist the temptation. I want to be a good pet owner, but I really can't afford to spend a ton of money. What would you say is the minimum I could expect to spend on my puppy in the first year?

Congratulations on your new family member. Pet ownership is a big responsibility. The good news for you is that you can spend more time and energy with your pet than money and still be meeting their needs. To answer your question, I am going to give you a best case scenario (no serious health problems).

You will want to get a first exam or puppy wellness visit. This will be a time for the veterinarian to examine your puppy from snout to tail. This usually includes an examination of your pet's stool under a microscope to check for internal parasites/protozoa.

I suggest a series of three vaccinations for the basic puppy combo, DHLPP and a series of two vaccinations for the kennel cough, bordetella. A rabies vaccine is required by the state of Texas at 12 weeks of age. After this monthly series of vaccinations you will not have to get any other vaccinations for one year.

I also suggest spaying or neutering your puppy starting around 4-6 months of age. There is no need to wait for your pet to have her first heat cycle before spaying her. This only increases the chances of her becoming pregnant. Your male is ready to be neutered as soon as both his testicles are present in the scrotal sac.

And last but not least, you will need to place your pet on flea and heartworm preventative. The heartworm is an actual worm that is transmitted via the mosquito's blood exchange when they bite. This chewable "treat" will prevent heartworms and intestinal parasites. A monthly flea preventative is also highly recommended. With no long, hard freeze, South Texas weather is a perfect environment for both mosquitoes and fleas; they are pests we battle 12 months out of the year. Usually the combination will run you about $20 a month, depending on your pet's weight.

These few things should cover your new puppy's basic health needs for the first year. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact my office.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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