Can Afford A New Dog

The First-Time Owner's Guide to Determining Whether You Can Afford a New Dog

The perks of owning a dog are seemingly endless. Your dog is a fitness partner, emotional supporter, and even a stress reliever in your most difficult times. But, with a dog comes serious financial responsibility. From vet bills to expensive supplies and food for your dog’s entire lifetime, it’s critical that you come into the experience financially prepared. Beyond the basics, your dog can reveal congenital issues, get injured, or even require a special diet and medication that may very well put you in debt if you’ve yet to secure pet insurance. If this is your first time owning a dog, here are some things to consider before you invest your time and money.

Learn about the cost of living in your town

The area in which you live has a major impact on your ability to afford a new dog. Even the most dog-friendly cities in the US can have some expensive costs of living. That incorporates the costs of real estate, groceries, taxes, and healthcare. Take a deep dive into your living expenses and decide if you have enough money to spend on your new puppy expenses monthly. As you compare, you may discover that other cities may be more suitable for you and your dog. Compare your salary and expected monthly budget in a different city, and conduct an online home search to consider a dog-friendly home in a more affordable neighborhood. You may even find dog-friendly companies in the area with competitive pay and benefits.

Understand the costs of owning a dog

Dogs can be expensive, and as a first-time dog owner, you should be aware of and prepare for all of the potential expenses. First, you have the upfront cost of the dog or the adoption fee. Typical expenses include dog food, collars, leashes, beds, routine vet visits, vaccines, grooming, registration, etc. Yet, there are more non-traditional costs that can add up, including:

  • Petsitters
  • Obedience classes
  • Boarding
  • Emergency room visits
  • Surgery
  • Prescription medications

Create an anticipatory budget

Research shows that owning a dog can cost anywhere from $1,400-$3,400 a year. Initially, purchasing a dog from a breeder can cost up to several thousand dollars. Pet adoption fees, on the other hand, can be a bit more affordable, falling in the hundreds. Talk to a vet or other dog owners to lay out all your anticipated expenses beyond the initial purchase. Then, weigh those against your other financial obligations like your mortgage, utilities, and other monthly costs. When all is listed out, make sure that there is money left over for discretionary expenses or any emergencies — 20% of your income, in fact, according to financial experts.

Cushion your savings

Just as with any major investment like buying a house or car, you should build up a significant nest egg before making any purchases. Between emergency injuries, unanticipated health concerns, and any other unexpected curveballs, the probability of needing to dip into your stash of cash is likely at some point in your dog’s life. Use your monthly budget to determine how much you should save. In the months leading up to the big purchase, try dedicating the amount you expect to spend on your dog monthly to your savings account. An emergency fund takes months to build up, so if bringing home a new puppy is on the horizon, start saving as soon as possible.

Consider pet insurance

Pet insurance can alleviate some of the financial burdens that can come with owning a dog. Depending on the provider and the policy you choose, routine expenses can be covered, saving you thousands of dollars in the long run. Some examples of costs covered by pet insurance are:

  • Vet visits
  • Accidents
  • Therapy
  • Congenital diseases
  • Prescription foods and medications

Before getting a dog, research the best pet insurance providers and, most importantly, the breed of your dog to choose the right coverage for your dog. PetFirst is a great option when shopping for pet insurance. You can find all the information you need on PetFirst here on CKC's website.

For all that dogs do for us, return the favor by being whole-heartedly prepared to take care of them. Prep your mind and your savings in order to help them with whatever they need and provide them with the life that they deserve.


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