As the saying goes: Nothing worth having comes free ... I mean easy.
This week we’re taking a look at the cost of a baby vs. the cost of a puppy in the first year in Michigan.
Cost of Michigan babies and puppies
The cost of a baby’s first year in Michigan is about $22,246.91, according to data compiled from the USDA, health insurance companies and the Economic Policy Institute. That’s slightly below the national average of $23,041.84.
The cost of a puppy’s first year in Michigan? $7,402.04, according to data compiled by Honest Paws for their “The Cost of a Puppy vs Baby in Every U.S. State” study. That’s also less than the national average of $7,702.17.
This data places Michigan in the middle of the list of costs per state at 24th most expensive for both babies and puppies. If you’re going to have a baby, or you want a puppy, Michigan is not the worst place to be in the states!
Baby costs in Michigan: From diapers to child care
According to the data, a vaginal birth in Michigan will cost about $6,545 -- add in the cost of:
- Diapers -- $840
- Food -- $2,584
- Clothing -- $240
- Car seat -- $100 -- this seems low!
- Stroller -- $100
- Crib -- $160
- Bassinet -- $130
- Changing table -- $99
- Bottles -- 18$ -- (you’ll pay more than $18 for this, probably, especially if you lose one -- take if from a parent, you will) 🍼
- Toys and books -- $360
- Healthcare -- $210 (that’s the average copay for 7 well baby doctor visits)
- Childcare -- $10,861
- Total: $22,246.91
That child care figure makes it clear why so many couples end up having at least one parent stay home to save $10K or more on child care (yikes!). In fact, the Economic Policy Institute (where this data is from) flat out states child care is out of reach for low-wage workers. For instance, a minimum wage worker in Connecticut would need to work full time for 38 weeks, or from January to September, just to pay for child care for one infant.
Here’s how Michigan compares to other states when it comes to the average cost of a vaginal birth -- these figures are after health insurance coverage is factored in:
*No data available for District of Columbia (Data source: FAIR Health)
As for that costly child care -- $10,861 annually in Michigan -- here’s how the Great Lakes State ranks:
*No data available for District of Columbia (Data source: Economic Policy Institute)
The Michigan Department of Education released a study in 2017 that aimed to examine the cost of child care and access to it across the state. Take a look at it here.
Here’s part of the conclusion from the study:
“On the one hand, there is increased interest in improving the overall quality of care through highly trained staff and enriched environments. On the other hand, the economy has seen only generally sluggish wage increases. To achieve higher standards means added costs to providers, but families cannot always cover the difference. Sometimes this means providers themselves are poorly compensated after working long hours.”
Puppy costs in Michigan: Adoption fee, vet visits, dog walker
According to Honest Paws, here’s what you can expect to pay for a puppy in its first year -- this is assuming you aren’t going to an expensive breeder:
- Adoption fee -- $261
- Annual vet costs -- $237
- Spay/neuter cost -- $370
- Annual licenses/fee costs (for spayed/neutered dog) -- $10
- Annual food costs -- $228
- Supplies (bowls, crate, leashes) -- $350
- Annual poop bag costs -- $150
- Annual toys cost -- $35
- Annual pet insurance cost -- $405.46
- Annual dog walking cost -- $2,925.00
- Annual pet deposit/fee/rent -- $775
- Heartworm/flea medication -- $1,341.48
- Microchip -- $1341.48
That brings the total to $7,402.04 to own and take care of a puppy in the first year in Michigan. Here’s how that compares to other states:
Right away, you’ll notice owning a puppy does not have the wild cost discrepancy across state lines -- Connecticut is most expensive at $8,895 while Kentucky is most affordable at $6,733. Meanwhile, when it comes to babies, Massachusetts costs $33,495 in that first year (most expensive in nation) while Alabama is most affordable at $16,072. That’s a much wider gap, and we can thank those astronomical child care costs that so many states face.
I’m not finding any dog kennel fees factored into this. HomeGuide has data that suggests boarding a dog could cost anywhere from $25-$85 per night. The average range is $30-$50, with the average cost set at $40 a night. So let’s say you had to leave your puppy at a kennel for a week or something. You would be looking at an average nightly rate of $40 a night:
Data source: homeguide.com
A week’s trip to the kennel could mean an additional $157.50 to your $7,402.04 annual cost for a puppy in its first year -- $7,559.54.
Fewer babies, more puppies
And perhaps cost is part of the reason fewer babies are being born while more puppies are being chosen instead. A 2017 report from the Institute for Family Studies (IFS) called Millennials “pet crazy” as fertility rates continued to fall in America. But, as IFS notes, there really isn’t any way to link falling fertility rates to the rise in the number of pets and pet spending:
“While we can’t observe pet-owner-specific fertility, at least the aggregate correlates give comparatively little support to the idea that pets are replacing kids on a meaningful scale. However, it does seem there may be some effect: while singles have lower total pet ownership, pet ownership is reportedly rising particularly fast among single women, even as fertility has fallen for this group. So that may be a real effect. The problem is, single women already had far lower fertility than married women, so declining single fertility should not create a huge drag on total fertility -- unless, of course, the share of women who are single is simultaneously rising rapidly. And that turns out to be exactly what is happening ...
... Meanwhile, singles may also see their pets differently than families do: singles often see pets as ‘family members,’ while family-owners are more likely to see pets as property. But while ‘pet-parents’ may rhetorically describe their pets as ‘children,’ the correspondent decline in both single-person fertility and marriage among young people suggests that pets may be replacing two different family members. For some owners, pets replace kids. But for many, the companionship provided by a pet replaces spouses. Pets are often described as providing companionship, emotional support, security, or a sense of ‘home’ or rootedness for ‘pet-parents’: but these aren’t traits that describe a child. These are traits that describe a husband or a wife. With (Millennials) postponing the commitment of marriage due to any number of other reasons, the need for a reliable companion who is committed to stay until death do it part may simply be transferred onto pets rather than people.”
Interesting. Whatever is going on here, Americans love their pets and it seems the puppy is replacing the baby in popularity, at least among certain groups of Americans.
Dog or baby? Or ... cat?
Will this data affect any decision you make about having kids, getting a puppy, both? Neither? Regardless, now you know the cost differential between a baby and puppy in the first year in Michigan is $14,845.
Here’s a look at each state’s baby/puppy cost differential:
Personally, I have three kids. I wouldn’t trade any of them for a puppy. And I have no interest in having a puppy right now. We have two cats (both much older than the kids), and guess what: Cats are wayyyy cheaper than dogs, and I don’t have to take them for walks, although the litter box is a pain in the back.
The ASPCA says the average annual cost of a cat is $634. If I had to choose between a dog or cat, I’m sold on the cat based on cost alone. But people love their pups, and they’re willing to pay for them. That’s what unconditional love means, right? And no one wants to be alone.
By the way:
- If you love pets (any pet), then you should sign up for our “All 4 Pets” newsletter.
- If you’re a parent, sign up for our parenting newsletter “Kidding Around.”