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The Cost of Owning a Dog; Can You Afford It?


Cost of Owning a DogWhen I adopted my first dog, I was ecstatic to find that he was free to a good home.  He was being given away to anyone who could give him the exercise and training he needed as well as care for him on a daily basis.  No problem, I thought. Two meals a day, a bowl of water and a collar and leash and he would be just fine and dandy! How hard could it be to keep up with his care?  I learned the hard way.

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Even if your dog is free initially, there are costs that will very shortly follow your decision to adopt him.  Vet care needs to be provided within 3 days of bringing home a new puppy.  This includes a fecal exam to check for parasites, worming medication, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, heartworm prevention and tests, and finally the cost of altering your new pet.  If every one of these procedures must be done upon receiving your new canine, it could cost upwards of $400 or more in extreme cases! Then, if he needs a dental, that alone can cost about $500 or more, sometimes slightly less depending on the condition of the dog’s teeth.  Microchipping to help safeguard him from being lost and never returned is usually one of the cheapest aspects between $10 and $40 depending on where you have it done.  This is just the beginning!

The Cost of That Doggy in the Window

Where are you planning to acquire your new pet?  This one choice alone could give insight as to the over all costs, not including initial costs of getting him home, that you will pay for his care, health and happiness.  If you decide to purchase a puppy from a pet store, the upfront costs are usually astronomical. You will pay $100’s on your new puppy who has had little to no vet care and just may have a whole host of genetic health problems that have not shown themselves. It is not uncommon to spend even more thousands of dollars just on treating the health problems that show up in these poorly bred animals.

If you purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder, the initial costs can vary greatly. The quality in the puppies is often seen in their price tag, as your new baby has a genetic health guarantee, has begun potty training, has already been dewormed and vaccinated as well as socialized. You still, however, are responsible for the costs of his yearly wellness exams, parasite preventions, and spay and neuter surgeries.  Over all, a carefully bred puppy can cost from $500 to $5,000 depending on breed, and another couple hundred dollars on his first year of vet care.

Shelter dogs may be the most affordable as far as costs go, as they are almost always already vetted for the year and spayed or neutered.  Most are adults, parasite free and already on prevention, as well as microchipped by the shelter. Dogs from shelters and rescues can cost only $60 to $400 depending on each shelter or rescue’s policies.

Beyond the Vet

After I paid hundreds of dollars to get my free dog fully vetted, I hadn’t considered all the other things I should have already had before bringing him home. He needed a crate, which cost $120 at the pet store. He needed a chew proof dog bed, which was $50 as well as toys that fetched upwards of $50 total.  His larger size meant his items cost me more money, and I hadn’t even considered food!  His previous owners handed me an open bag with half of it still full. This food, a colorful mixture of shaped kibble pieces, was only $8 for a giant bag that would last him about 2 weeks.  Something about this did not sit right with me, so I researched. Deciding on a quality, made in the US kibble with no additives or grain ended up costing about $60 per month! Note: You can find a decent food for around $35-$40 if your dog doesn’t need a special type of food.

Had I known the cost that this free dog would cost me, I most likely probably would have went to the local shelter instead. I was lucky in that I already knew how to train and exercise a dog, but many new dog owners are not capable of doing this.  Training costs alone can be hundreds, even if you’re just attending a local obedience class! However, I loved my incredibly expensive free dog, and would not have given him up for the world. Buddy is now gone, passed away at age 13 after he had gone through a couple surgeries to combat health conditions that cropped up in his old age, as well as emergency vet care that he needed as an adult.

In the end, dogs are probably one of the most expensive pets we can keep in our lives.  They deserve the healthiest foods, which sometimes are the most expensive, as well as regular vet care. Accidents happen, costing us a small fortune in emergency vet care, as well as other illnesses that can pop up along the way. However, the real cost of a dog is all the love, care, and empathy we can give them.  If your wallet can handle the cost of your newest pooch, can your heart handle it as well?

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