Thinking about adopting a pandemic puppy? Find out more about the costs with me as I break down how much it has cost me so far.

Pet adoptions have been soaring with the current COVID-19 pandemic. In my opinion, that totally makes sense! After all, who wouldn’t want an adorable cuddle to pass the newfound time at home? 

That’s where a pandemic puppy can come into the picture. Today I will share a complete look at the cost of adopting my pandemic pup, so you can know what you’re getting into. 

Why I adopted a pandemic puppy

I Adopted A Pandemic Puppy - Here Is How Much It Has Cost Me So Far - Why I adopted a pandemic puppy

I’ve been dreaming of adopting a puppy since I got to college. I grew up with a wonderful dog and waited for the day that I could comfortably adopt a new puppy. 

Over the years, I always had a responsible reason for why I couldn’t adopt a puppy at the moment. For years, my string of small apartments wouldn’t make a happy home for a puppy. Plus, I wanted to have some savings on hand for the inevitable expenses the responsibility of a dog would bring, like unexpected vet visits. Little did I know, I could save on some of these expenses by purchasing a pet insurance policy through an insurer like Embrace. However, without that knowledge, I continued to put off my desire to bring a puppy into my life. 

In January, my husband and I started to seriously consider bringing a puppy home. We were finally living in a space with a fenced backyard and plenty of nearby hiking trails for an active pup. We even applied to adopt a handful of puppies, but the timing never worked out for us. 

In mid-March, my husband and I were looking forward to a busy spring. I had several fun trips mapped out until the COVID-19 pandemic through our plans for a loop. As things started to settle into an isolating routine, my husband transitioned to working from home. At that point, we decided that we were truly ready to bring home a puppy with both of us available at the house. 

When we spotted our pandemic puppy on a rural shelter page in mid-March, we hopped in the car and drove the hour to meet him. Immediately we fell in love and put down a deposit to secure his adoption for the next week. We were able to bring him home at the end of March when he turned eight weeks old. 

Pongo has been our fun-loving pup ever since! 

The cost breakdown

Pongo was an adorable eight-week-old puppy that quickly grew into a 40-pound bundle of joy. Along the way, he has turned out to be a rather expensive pandemic purchase. 

I will take more in-depth about this below, but one way to save a ton on puppy costs is through pet insurance. Pumpkin is one of the best options on the market, with an affordable preventive care option.

Bringing him home

The first major expense of owning a pet is bringing them home. For Pongo, those costs added up quickly. 

  • $50 deposit to secure his adoption. We paid this fee a week before he was available for adoption to ensure that he was coming home with us.
  • $150 adoption fee. The adoption fee covered his neuter surgery and other medical treatments that the shelter provided. When Pongo was found at the shelter, he and his brother were in fairly bad shape. Both had significant skin issues which needed extensive treatment. Luckily, the shelter quickly restored his skin to a better condition and continued the treatments after we brought him home. 
  • $210 rental pet fee. When we first got Pongo, we were living in a rented duplex. The landlords graciously allowed us to bring Pongo home. But we had to pay a $210 non-refundable pet fee. 

The first part of the adoption journey was several hundred dollars. But that was just the beginning!

Vet bills

When you bring home a young puppy, you should expect to pay for a wide range of vaccinations. We brought Pongo home as an eight-week puppy with some severe skin issues. With that, our vet bills were a little bit higher than the norm

  • $189.96 – First vet visit and a handful of shots. 
  • $87.04 – A booster shot visit.
  • $205.8 – More shots and skin check-up. 
  • $67.27 – Another booster shot visit. 
  • $79.33 – A microchip visit with another vaccine. 

The veterinary costs can add up quickly. But after this last visit to the vet, Pongo should be okay until his annual appointment in March. 

Other costs

Beyond the initial costs of bringing him home and the vet bills, extra expenses needed to be considered. I’ll break them down now:

  • $98.17 – The first of many Amazon orders to make our home comfortable for Pongo. This included buying a crate to grow into, potty training pads, teething rings, and other toys.  
  • $6.25 – A quick trip to the hardware store by my house that sells dog toys and bones. 
  • $12.68 – Another Amazon purchase to stock up on toys – because Pongo rips through toys very quickly. 
  • $58.01 – A Petsmart run for food and other supplies. 
  • $10.57 – More toys from Ace Hardware. 
  • $280 – We set up a subscription for Pongo’s food from Amazon. With that, we are able to save 5% on his food, but it still adds up. 
  • $50 – Walmart Pet Rx purchase for his first round of heartworm medication. 
  • $75 – A Chewy delivery of Pongo’s six month supply of preventative medications. 
  • $275 – The combined total of boarding costs for Pongo on three separate occasions. 

As you can see, the extra costs of a puppy can get expensive. 

The total cost of adopting my pandemic puppy

I Adopted A Pandemic Puppy - Here Is How Much It Has Cost Me So Far - The total cost of adopting my pandemic puppy

Although we look for opportunities to save where we can, the cost of owning a pet is just expensive. What isn’t included in these expenses are the sleepless nights of puppy potty training and adorable puppy cuddles that make it all worth it. 

In total, the cost of adopting our pandemic puppy is $1,904.51. So far, we’ve spent close to $2,000 on Pongo. But I’m optimistic that the upfront veterinary costs of adopting a puppy with a few skin issues will not continue to be a major factor. 

Overall, we were very happy to bring Pongo into our lives. He has been worth every penny!

Where I could have saved more

Of course, there are always ways to save more. What I didn’t look into when I first brought Pongo home was pet insurance. I think that I seriously missed out on an opportunity to save on vet bills. With that, you may want to look into your pet insurance options if you are considering adopting a pet. Here is a bit more about Embrace. 

Lemonade

I Adopted A Pandemic Puppy - Here Is How Much It Has Cost Me So Far - Lemonade

Lemonade is a great pet insurance option. They’re quickly disrupting the industry with their low-cost plans that start as low as $10/month (and a 10% discount if you also insure your home or car through Lemonade). But, you can decide the deductible amount and coverage limit you want to set for yourself. 

When it comes to what they cover, the answer is pretty much up to you. If you’re looking for basic wellness care and vaccine coverage, Lemonade has a plan for you. But, they’re also perfect for those looking to protect their pet in the event of an accident or illness. They’ll cover heartworm testing, fecal testing, bloodwork, emergency surgeries, x-rays, labwork, medications, and more.

Plus, an especially wonderful feature of Lemonade is that they offer expert medical advice via their chat feature. That way, you don’t have to call up the vet for every little question.

Pumpkin

PumpkinI Adopted A Pandemic Puppy - Here Is How Much It Has Cost Me So Far - Pumpkin is another pet insurance provider that offers an insurance plan designed to prioritize the wellness of your pet. Pumpkin offers insurance that covers a high percentage of eligible veterinary expenses for accidents and illnesses. Pumpkin also offers an optional preventative care plan – Pumpkin Preventive Essentials – which pays for an annual wellness exam, vaccines, and select lab tests to detect parasites & life-threatening diseases.

Here’s how Pumpkin works: when your dog is sick, you can take them to any licensed veterinarian in the U.S. or Canada for treatment. You pay the vet and then afterward, file a claim for the eligible veterinary expenses to be reimbursed after your annual deductible has been met.

In terms of annual limit options with Pumpkin, every family is offered a 90% reimbursement rate on eligible vet bills, up to an annual coverage limit of $10k or $20k for dogs and $7k or $15k for cats.

Embrace

I Adopted A Pandemic Puppy - Here Is How Much It Has Cost Me So Far - EmbraceEmbrace offers pet insurance policies that you can customize to your coverage needs. You’ll be able to adjust the monthly premiums and annual payout limits to suit your budget. 

In addition to the flexible coverage, you can choose to take part in a Wellness plan. A Wellness plan will reward you for taking care of your pet’s needs on a regular basis. Essentially, you’ll be rewarded if you are taking care of your pet responsibly. 

Summary

The costs of a pandemic puppy can add up quickly. But if you are prepared for that financial responsibility, then the costs pale in comparison to the fun of bringing home a puppy. Even as the chaos of the pandemic swirls around us, Pongo has been an amazing blessing in our lives. 

If you are considering bringing a puppy home, I’d encourage you to think about the costs ahead of time. When you have the costs of a puppy factored into your budget, you can enjoy the experience of adopting a puppy to the fullest!

Pumpkin Advertiser Disclosure: Pumpkin Pet Insurance policies do not cover pre-existing conditions. Waiting periods, annual deductible, co-insurance, benefit limits and exclusions may apply. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/insurancepolicy. Products, discounts, and rates may vary and are subject to change. Pumpkin Insurance Services Inc. ("Pumpkin") (NPN #19084749) is a licensed insurance agency, not an insurer. Insurance is underwritten by United States Fire Insurance Company (NAIC #21113, Morristown, NJ), a Crum & Forster Company and produced by Pumpkin. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not an insurance policy. It is offered as an optional add-on non-insurance benefit. Pumpkin is responsible for the product and administration. Pumpkin Preventive Essentials is not available in all states. For full terms, visit pumpkin.care/customeragreement.

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About the author

Total Articles: 59
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering retirement, investing, debt, savings, credit cards, mortgages, and student loans. Additionally, she is the founder of Adventurous Adulting, a personal finance blog dedicated to helping readers tackle their money and take control of the adventure of life. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter.