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Getting yourself a pet to keep you company can sound like a fantastic idea, but first you should make sure you are ready for the commitment.
Dogs or cats can make a great addition to your home and become your best friends during these challenging times. But can your budget manage the costs of owning a four-legged friend?
If you have never had a pet before, the costs of ownership may surprise you. And we’re not talking merely about food or toys. You need to consider everything from veterinary care to the cost of spaying dogs, not to mention other dog-related expenses.
In short, it can take a considerable amount of money to keep your pet healthy and happy. And if you are positive that dog ownership is something you want and are able to manage, we can help you make sure that you take care of your dog-related costs the right way. You’ll find more information in the guide below.
In This Post:
Getting a Dog
The first decision you need to make is whether to buy a pure breed animal or adopt a shelter one. The decision is more significant than most people think, so it’s good to look at your options before making the final decision.
Depending on the breed you want to have, the costs may vary significantly. Some high-profile breeds like the Afghan Hound or Canadian Eskimo Dog can cost even up to $7000, while others like Dachshunds are worth “only” $450. Licensed breeders have to undergo strict routine inspections of their facilities and the way they keep their animals.
This way, you don't have to worry about the ethical aspects of their operation. However, there are some backyard breeders whose practices are only driven by money. Fortunately, many useful tools allow you to check if the breeder you chose is legitimate.
Buying an animal from a pet store is the most popular option among first-time owners. But is it really a good choice? Dogs in pet stores often come from puppy mills and have a higher risk of health problems than others.
High-volume breeders often keep animals in cages and don't care about proper care. They often don’t control the mating or follow the rules of proper breeding. Sure, animals from pet stores are usually cheaper than ones from a licensed breeder, but it is worth asking yourself if you want to encourage this kind of practice.
Adopting a dog from a shelter is considered the most humane way to do it. Most of these animals were abandoned by their first owners or are victims of puppy mills, and adoption gives them a second chance for a good life. And don’t worry. Shelters take care of their pets, ensuring they’re clean and healthy.
That's why the costs of adopting a pet may vary, ranging from fifty to even a few hundred dollars. The high costs actually may help you save up some money in the long run, as the amount the shelter has spent before indicates a dog doesn’t require additional care.
Feeding Your Pet
When it comes to feeding your dog, you should never look for a way to save money, as buying cheap food can be very damaging to your friend's health. Cheap and low-quality food contains wheat and legumes that don’t provide dogs with the right nutrition.
Similar to humans, dogs require a balanced and healthy diet that at the same time tastes good. The cheapest pet food provides only the latter.
Good quality premium food can be as high as $500 per year, while for the cheapest food from the supermarket, you will pay around $150. However, keep in mind that some dogs may require more specialized food as they can be allergic to poultry or dairy.
Paying for Health Care
Most owners take their dogs for routine checkups at least once a year. The cost of a regular veterinary visit may differ from $50 to $300 depending on the place you live in. There are some standard veterinary rules you should follow, though.
For instance, when you adopt or buy a puppy, the first thing you have to do is vaccinate and deworm it.
Another thing you need to consider is whether to spay or neuter your pup. There are diseases, such as cancer, which are a lot more likely to happen if an animal is unspayed. If you don't plan on having more puppies, you may want to ask your veterinarian for the best time to do it.
The cost you can't avoid is paying for microchipping. It is a legal requirement for every owner. Without it, you can be hit with a fine of up to $500. Fortunately, a microchip isn’t expensive. It usually costs around $20.
Of course, there are also unexpected costs you should be aware of, one of the best investments you can make is in pet insurance.
Buying the Necessary Equipment
There are a few things that every dog needs. Getting essential equipment like bowls, a leash, or a bed is a must. However, its cost depends on your preferences. You can buy everything you need for $50, but you can spend $500 on better-looking gear if you want to. Cheap but practical toys for your puppy will cost you no more than $5 each.
If you are a first-time owner and want to avoid behavioral problems with your dog, you can consider taking a training course together. Of course, you can teach your pet everything yourself, but sometimes it's better to do it with a professional trainer. Group training can range from $40 to $150, whereas private classes vary from $30 to $100 per hour.
Keep in mind that some breeds’ needs are much more demanding than others. While it may seem like grooming is a luxury that only applies to showcase dogs, it is a need for every long-haired pet. Grooming helps to keep a dog clean, comfortable, and it can prevent some health problems later in life. With a long-haired dog, you can plan your costs of visiting a professional groomer to be around $100 to $500 per year.
The Bottom Line
Being a dog owner is a fantastic experience, especially now when we have to stay at home due to the pandemic. You will have someone to hug and play with, and taking care of a live being will help you stay sane in these challenging times.
However, taking a dog is a huge decision you shouldn't make lightly. You have to ensure you can spare your pet enough time and, more importantly, that you can even afford a dog.
The annual costs of pet ownership can range from around $400 to $2000, depending on the place you live in and the breed you choose. That amount doesn't include the one-time costs like buying a dog, adoption fees, or the cost of basic equipment.
With all that in mind, it’s best to do the math before you take more responsibility on your shoulders. A dog isn’t a toy you can get and forget about once you get bored of it. It’s a commitment.