For many dog owners, their four-legged friends are considered a part of the family. So, money isn’t always at the forefront of a dog parent’s mind. But, owning a dog can cost, on average, anywhere from $1,400-$4,300 each year. That’s important to keep in mind if you’re on a budget, and one of the things you need to be aware of before getting a dog.
Where do those expenses come from? Everything from your dog’s food to their toys and vet bills can add up quickly. Plus, things can happen that might require some “emergency spending” that you didn’t initially plan for.
So, if you’re interested in buying or adopting a dog, how can you make sure you can afford it? What can you do to financially plan for pet ownership in order to make sure your new furry friend has everything they need?
Building a Better Budget
Before you choose to get a dog, it’s a good idea to put together a budget. While you may not be able to factor in every expense, there are certain things you’ll need to purchase in order to keep your dog happy and healthy:
- Treats/chew bones
- Tags, leashes, collars
Other expenses might include things like a crate to keep in your home, a dog bed, blankets, or other gear like a harness for walking or a tie-out for when they go outside. If you work during the day or go away on a trip, you’ll also need to plan for something like “doggy daycare” or for a place to safely board your dog.
Pet-proofing your house or apartment to keep your pooch safe should also factor into your budget. You might need to invest in childproof locks for cabinets and shelves or gates to keep your dog from going into certain rooms or areas of your home.
Finally, you should always have a little extra wiggle room in your budget for unexpected expenses. No one wants to think about their dog having to go through a medical emergency, but it does happen. Having some extra money in your pet budget can ease the financial burden of having to pay for something like an emergency surgery or broken bone.
Getting Help With Healthcare
Veterinary costs can add up very quickly, especially if your dog is ill or injured. While having extra money in your budget can help, it may not always cover all of the medical costs for your pet.
Paying for medical bills for your dogs isn’t any easier than paying for your own. But, there are some situations in which you may be able to write off some of your dog’s medical bills, including surgeries. You can typically write off surgeries if:
- Your dog is a service worker
- You’re fostering a dog
- Your dog protects your place of business
- Your dog has a “profession” that makes you money (ie; a show dog)
There are limits to the deductions you can receive, of course. If your dog qualifies under any of these circumstances, talk to your tax preparer to determine the types of deductions you might be able to receive.
Plus, more vets across the country are accepting pet health insurance as a form of payment. It works very similarly to human health insurance, in which you pay a monthly fee, and if anything happens to your dog, a portion of their medical services will be covered. For some people, it’s an unnecessary expense for otherwise healthy dogs. For those who have a dog with a chronic condition, or an older dog, it can be worth it if you find yourself going to the vet quite often.
How to Save Money On Your Dog’s Needs
While having a dog is expensive, there are things you can do to cut costs and stay within your budget while still giving your furry family member everything they need.
Perhaps the most consistent expense for pet owners is dog food. You can save money there by doing your research ahead of time. You want to make sure your dog gets the nutrition they need, but buying in bulk, looking for sales, or even utilizing subscription services that offer discounts can help you to find healthy, nutritious food at a fraction of the cost.
When it comes to dog toys, try to stick to what you know your dog loves. Experiment with a few different types of toys, and when they wear out, replace the ones that were your dog’s favorites. This will help you from going overboard when it comes to spoiling your precious pup! You can also DIY your dog toys. Something as simple as stuffing an old clean sock with an empty plastic water bottle can offer hours of play.
Whether you already own a dog or you’re planning on getting one in the near future, it’s important to have the budget necessary to provide for their needs. Do your research, organizing, and preparation ahead of time, and you’ll ensure that your dog is happy and healthy without having to break the bank.