Monday, March 1, 2021

Can You Afford A Dog?

There are lots of things to consider before getting a dog such as whether your home and lifestyle is suitable. It’s also very important to consider the costs. On top of the upfront fees of adopting a dog, there are many other ongoing expenses that are necessary to keep your pooch happy and healthy. Below is a guide to what costs you should budget for  - and how you may be able to save money.

What are some of the main costs to consider?

While some costs are optional such as training or dog-sitting, there are a few costs that are unavoidable as a dog owner. These include:

  • Adoption fees: Unless you decide to adopt a stray, you will most likely have to pay someone to adopt a dog. This can vary depending on what dog you adopt and where you adopt them from (more about this later).

  • Dog license: In many states, you will need to apply for a dog license. This usually only costs $20 and is renewed annually. Failing to license your dog could result in hefty fines. 

  • Vet bills: You should sign your dog up with a local vet as soon as you adopt them. If you’re adopting a puppy, they will likely need to be vaccinated. You should also consider whether to get them neutered/spayed and whether to get them microchipped. All of this is likely to cost upwards of $150. Expect some ongoing vet bills on top of this (even if your dog is lucky enough to not experience any health problems, you should still schedule a few checkups to be safe). 

  • Toys and equipment: A few bits of equipment will need to be purchased when adopting a dog. These include a dog bed, feeding bowls, a collar/harness, a leash, dog poop bags, and grooming tools. Most dogs will also need some toys to keep them occupied. 

  • Food: Dogs can get through a lot of food. Even with a small low-energy dog, expect to pay at least $200 per year on food. A diet made up of good quality dog food products - mussels are great for dogs-  could reduce vet bills.

Adopt from a breeder or shelter?

Many of the initial costs can be determined from whether you adopt from a breeder or a shelter.

Most people choose a breeder if they want a puppy or a specific breed. The cost of buying from a breeder can vary depending on their reputability and the breed that they are selling. Ideally, you want to buy from a trusted breeder that looks after the pups and their mother. This usually means paying $400 or more. 

Adopting from a shelter is much less costly (usually $50 to $300). The dog is also likely to have been health checked by a vet and vaccinated. 

Can breed affect costs?

The costs of owning a dog can vary a lot depending on the breed. When buying certain designer breeds, it’s possible to spend as much as $2000 in adoption fees. Indistinguishable mixed breed dogs are likely to cost very little to adopt.

When it comes to food costs, larger breeds are likely to require more food. This includes bullmastiffs, great danes and newfoundlands. Small breeds such as chihuahuas and jack russells require much less food. Some bigger breeds such as greyhounds and huskies don’t require a lot of food as they are built to conserve energy. Consider these types of dogs if you want to keep food bills low.

Some breeds can be more prone to health problems. For instance, labradors are at greater risk of joint problems, while pugs are prone to spinal and respiratory problems. Breeds such as border collies, corgis and springer spaniels experience relatively less health problems - which could be something to consider if you don’t want to pay high vet bills. Mixed breed dogs are among some of the healthiest and are least likely to experience health problems. 

You should also consider a dog’s behavior and temperament. Some breeds such as labradors are more playful - you can find more information here on this. This could mean spending more on toys. Other breeds can require a lot of grooming such as poodles and bichon frises. This could mean paying a professional groomer more often. 

What are some of the best ways to make dog ownership more affordable?

There are a few ways in which you can make being a dog owner more affordable. Below are just a few tips. 

Provide your dog with a healthy lifestyle

Many common health problems in dogs are the result of an unhealthy lifestyle. These health problems could result in more vet bills. By keeping your dog exercised and by not feeding them too much food, you can avoid health problems and avoid high vet bills.

Pet insurance

Pet insurance can help to pay for any veterinary treatment. You’ll have to pay monthly fees to keep your dog insured; however, this could be more affordable than having to pay out large sums for medical treatment. Alternatively, you could set up an auto transfer to a separate savings account to essentially self-insure by having money set aside for vet bills.

Do your own grooming

Dogs need to be kept well-groomed to avoid health problems. This includes brushing teeth, trimming nails and washing/trimming fur. You may be able to save money on grooming by doing it yourself instead of hiring a professional dog groomer. 

Shop around for food

When it comes to dog food, you may be able to save money by comparing dog food brands that are out there. Ideally, you want to buy a trusted dog food brand that will provide for the nutritional needs of your dog - for this reason, you should avoid going too cheap. Bulk buying dog food can be an effective way to save money on dog food.


It’s possible to craft your own dog toys out of old t-shirts and plastic bottles. You can even cook up your own dog treats and dog food. By going DIY, you could save yourself a lot of money. You can find DIY guides online. 

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