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What Does it REALLY Cost to Own a Dog?

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Four-legged friends make for excellent companions, proud protectors, trusted therapists and endless sources of laughter. But sadly, despite all their benefits, millions of canine companions get abandoned in shelters each year.

Those considering adopting a new family member should educate themselves on expenses and other pitfalls before signing their name on the line to adopt. Animals offer unconditional love, and none should ever experience abuse or neglect in return for their affection.


Understand the Expense

Owning any kind of pet proves pricey, but those opting to bring a new pooch into their household need to plan ahead for often-overlooked expenses. Canines, like humans, need quality nutrition to thrive, and well-balanced dry dog chow may cost anywhere from $20 to $100 per month, depending on dog size and breed.

And that’s not including wet food and treats. Additionally, owners of long-haired breeds may find Fifi needs regular trips to the groomer, which can run anywhere from $35 and up. Some dogs require daily supplements for maximum health, which can quickly make monthly pet bills soar.

Save Before Adopting

Raising Rover comes with a list of potential monetary charges too extensive to list. These concerns go beyond regular feedings into exercise needs and techniques to counter canine boredom.

Dog owners who rent their homes may need to pay certain pet deposits before their landlord will allow their four-legged friend on the property. All but the tiniest teacup pups need sufficient room to roam — and even the smallest ones need some space to play. This often means paying a higher price to rent a single-family home for the yard space, versus making do with a studio. Some landlords demand monthly pet rent in addition to a onetime deposit, which can drive up the cost of living significantly.

Buy Necessary Supplies

Those adopting cats may get by — at least in the short term — with an inexpensive cat kit consisting of a litter box, a scoop, food bowls and a few toys. Dog owners, conversely, must invest in a host of supplies to keep their new puppy happy and prevent damage caused out of canine boredom.

The cost of Spot’s supplies during the first year ranges from approximately $40 for basic leashes, collars and bones to over $2,000 for more expensive needs like harnesses, crates and other long-term training needs. Shorthaired breeds, from tiny Chihuahuas to larger Dobermans, benefit from sweaters when going outdoors if their owners reside in cold climates. Those in hot climates benefit from booties to protect their delicate paws from searing sidewalk temperatures — remember, any paved area warm enough to make barefoot humans uncomfortable will hurt Fido’s paws as well.

Choose a Reputable Shelter

Depending upon the jurisdiction dog owners reside in, different rules govern who may operate animal shelters. While most shelters arise out of genuine concerns for animal welfare, some operate solely to make a profit without concerning themselves with a pets’ well-being. Choose to adopt from a shelter that follows Humane Society guidelines for eliminating animal cruelty.

Make Sure to Cover Coco

Veterinarian bills add up quickly, and precious pooches requiring lifelong medical care can cost hundreds or more monthly. Even when adopting healthy pets from reputable shelters, health issues may go undetected until it is necessary for the owner to cough up the dough for a veterinarian visit.

To avoid expensive vet bills from forcing owners into the impossible choice of whether to treat or euthanize, a pet’s welfare, not their owners’ personal finances, should drive taking extreme measures. Many pet insurance policies cost far less annually than even one visit to the animal doc, so purchasing a pet health policy protects your pooch and your pocketbook.

Consider a Pet Trust

Pet owners should take measures to ensure their pet will remain cared for after they pass away. It may be difficult to consider, but the truth remains — all humans are mortal, and accidents happen. As pets rely completely upon their owner to meet their basic needs, consider establishing a pet trust to protect your beloved Lassie.

Even the best trusts can fail to protect precious pooches should an accident occur with no remaining relatives nearby to check on the pets. Pet parents should carry a chip on their key chains identifying their pets and where rescuers can find them. Additionally, as fires and other natural disasters leave little time to evacuate, pet owners should indicate the name, type of pet(s) and how many remain trapped inside on window stickers, so emergency responders know to check for beloved animals.

Protecting the Human-Canine Bond

People have opened their homes to four-legged friends since prehistoric times. Dogs offer protection, companionship, unconditional love and years of joy. To return the amazing gifts pups have to offer, people simply need to adopt wisely so they can lavish their pooches with care and affection.

To learn more about the cost of pet ownership, check out this helpful infographic created by PSECU, a not-for-profit credit union in Pennsylvania.


Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by PSECU, a Pennsylvania-based credit union.

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