Thursday, 18 October 2012

Puppies are Priceless!


Flicka, 10 weeks old and once infected with parvo, is now
healthy and available for adoption. Adoption fees alone
would only cover a small portion of her treatment costs.
Puppies are priceless… but they are also very, very expensive to care for! We are often asked why the adoption fees on our puppies are $300, when “I can get a free dog on Kijiji!” We hope that reading this will give everyone an idea of why a “free” dog never really comes cheaply! Simply put, litters of puppies are one of our biggest expenses. Here is an idea of what it costs to raise one of our Mutts families.

Pregnant Moms:
Usually, we begin care of a family of dogs before the babies ever arrive! Most of our moms are from Northern communities in Manitoba, so we will use such moms in our examples.

  • ·      Transport: First, a pregnant mom must be transported to Winnipeg from her original community. Sometimes the flights are donated for these dogs by generous airlines such as Calm Air, but many times the flight costs us around $100.
  • ·       Check-up:  Moms who come in pregnant will usually need a check-up at the vet to make sure that everything is looking healthy and normal. This will usually involve an x-ray or ultrasound to see how many babies we have coming if she is far enough along. This visit usually costs around $250.
  • ·       Nutrition: Expectant moms need to eat well. They generally arrive malnourished and underweight, and that means that we need to feed them top of the line puppy food to get the calories and nutrients they require into them. Assuming 2 weeks of prenatal feeding, a 50-pound mom would eat around 70 cups of food, which is about 20 lbs. The cost of this is around $30.

Feeding Families:
Penny and her Piggy Bank Puppies, a small-medium breed litter in care.
From the time that the puppies are born, until they reach 6 weeks of age, the babies will rely at least partly on their mother for nutrition. Since they are growing and developing so quickly, they require only the best puppy food (no grocery store brands). Here is the cost of feeding a family of mid-large size dogs (what we have most often) for 8 weeks.
  • ·       Weeks 1-4: For the first 4 weeks, puppies eat mainly their mom’s milk. However, as their nursing needs increase, so do mom’s nutritional needs. In this first month, mom will eat around 140-200 cups of food, or 40-60 lbs. This will cost $60-$100.
  • ·       Weeks 4-6:  During this time, the babies begin eating “mush”, which is just puppy food soaked with warm water.  A litter of 8, which is fairly typical, and their mom will go through about 40 lbs. of food during this time. $60.
  • ·       Weeks 6-8: Babies this age have been weaned from mom, and are ready to eat solid food. Their calorie requirements are very high because they are becoming very active, and are also growing very quickly. The same litter of 8 large breed pups will go through around 40 lbs of food again in this period. Mom will require about 10 lbs of food, more if she is underweight from the demands of feeding her family. $60-$100.

Health Needs:
There are both regular health costs and emergency/one time health costs associated with every litter in care.
  • ·       Deworming & Vaccines: Every mom and every baby needs to be dewormed several times in order to make sure that they are parasite free and healthy. This is done at 4 weeks, 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 10 weeks and 14 weeks of age for every pup. Moms are dewormed 3 times while with their litters. They must also be vaccinated against disease at 6, 10, and 14 weeks (mom vaccinated twice) $500+.
  • ·       Spay/neuters:  We require every single dog adopted from us to be spayed or neutered. Moms will be spayed once her babies are weaned, and babies are spayed/neutered at 6 months of age. This cost is included in your adoption fee, but it costs us approximately $150 per dog, or $1350 per litter of 8 + mom.
  • ·       Other costs: Usually, mom and one or two babies will have a need to see the vet. Sometimes this is for injuries such as a poke to the eye, a sore limb, or other “wear & tear” that is considered normal for young pups. Other times, it can be for problems inherent in dogs from up North, such as “fish tape worms” (persistent parasites) or malnutrition related issues like anemia. An average cost for a litter’s “other” veterinary bills is around $300. Many litters are MUCH higher than this, but this is for your average litter.

Costs you won’t see here:
Roxie and her Chicago babies, a large-extra large litter in care.
Our amazing staff members, foster families and volunteers cover many hidden costs that don’t show up in our adoption fees. Usually, these are small things, but the dollars add up.
  • ·       Gas mileage: Going to and from the vet, picking up and dropping off new fosters (sometimes even in communities as far as Brandon or Dauphin!) and going to pick up supplies costs money for our generous team.
  • ·       Time, Effort & Expertise: Our team is tireless when it comes to working with our dogs. Time is spent on: feeding, cleaning, grooming, training, transporting, photographing, temperament testing, and cuddling every single dog in care. The individuals who complete all of this difficult work often have a high level of expertise that would usually need to be paid for. They provide it to us free of charge.
  • ·       Support: While looking for your ideal pet, our team is there for you. We help you find a perfect match for your family by paying close attention to your lifestyle and needs. After adoption, we provide support for just about everything, from health concerns (is this poop normal?) to behavioral issues (she won’t stop barking!) This is all included in your adoption fee, and any adopter could tell you just how invaluable it really is!

Total Cost of an Average Litter:
As you can see, the total here is between $2790 and $3010 per litter. That averages out to a cost of $310 to $334.44 per dog, in a normal, healthy litter. However, in almost every single one of our litters, at least one puppy with have some "special needs" to care for, which will cost us an additional few hundred dollars (sometimes thousands of dollars). 

How much would it cost you to have all of this done on your “free” puppy?
The costs indicated here are often given with our rescue discount (especially for veterinary and health items). If you brought home a “free” 8-week-old pup, here are the costs you can expect, at a bare minimum:
  • ·       First check-up, including first vaccine and deworming $150
  • ·       Follow up visits for deworming and 2 booster vaccines $100
  • ·       Spay or neuter appointment at your vet $300
  • ·       Total of a minimum of $550

Keep in mind that this does not include the money you may have to pay for training or consulting with a behaviorist. It also doesn’t include what you might pay for your “free” puppy’s health issues if it wasn’t fed or cared for properly during its critical newborn stage. Problems such as malnutrition, injuries, deformities, or severe parasite infestations will run between several hundred to several thousand dollars. Puppies require very careful management to be healthy, well socialized individuals! This may be the most important thing you pay for with your adoption fee.

The bottom line? Adopt, don’t shop! It will save you money and a whole lot of heartache.

To donate to MMDR, visit our website at!

Penny's photo by Pearl Angelini Photography,

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