4 Mistakes People Make When Getting a Dog

dog, cost of owning a dog

Dog | Source: iStock

Owning a pet can be wonderful, but it also can be an expensive venture. Pets are often a wonderful addition to a family, or a great companion for someone living alone. However, sometimes people can be surprised by the actual cost of owning a dog. The amount will vary depending on what your dog needs and his or her age, but you should expect to pay for food, treats, toys, doggie basics, and other supplies.

In addition to the initial cost of adoption or individual purchase, and the necessary supplies, many people forget about the cost of health care, doggie day care or boarding, and regular maintenance. If you are in a relationship, it helps to talk about the costs and avoid a fight later by being sure that you can truly afford a dog before you buy one. Here are four mistakes people make when they purchase a dog.

1. Neglecting to consider the initial costs

If you decide to take in a dog that a friend or neighbor can’t take care of, or you choose one from the free section of the paper, then you might be able to avoid the adoption or purchasing fee (which can range from $200 all the way to $1,000 or more, depending on the type of dog). However, unless someone is giving you supplies, you also need to purchase a crate, toys, food, food dishes, grooming tools, a doggie bed, collar, and leashes. All these costs are just the initial ones, and they can really add up. In addition, while owning the dog, if any of these things are lost or broken, you will have to replace them. Food itself can be very expensive ($120-$500 per year).

2. Forgetting about health care

white Samoyed

A Samoyed | Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Dogs need regular checkups at the vet. The initial exam will cost you $45-$200 the first year, and $20-$100 after. In addition to regular exams, you will need to pay for flea and tick prevention ($200-$500 yearly), vaccinations, worming, fecal exams, possibly nutritional supplements, and heartworm prevention (which combined can cost hundreds of dollars), and potentially, emergency care. Some years you will have to pay less than others, but even if you have only one emergency vet visit and it costs you $2,000, you may be in a tough financial spot.

3. Neglecting maintenance costs

Like humans, many dogs need grooming. Grooming tools can cost $20-$250 initially, and up to $25 later; professional grooming can cost up to $1,200. In addition to grooming, food, and health care costs, your dog should have identification, will need to be neutered, and may require expensive training and a fenced yard. If you work full-time, you may need to pay someone to check on your dog or let him out; you might also need to pay someone to walk your dog. You will certainly have to pay for boarding if you go out of town and you don’t have anyone to watch your pet ($15-$50 per day).

4. Forgetting to look further down the line

dog on yoga mat

Dog on yoga mat | Source: iStock

Sure, your sweet and fun new best friend will be fun for a while, and hopefully will continue to be a loyal companion for many years. However, in your rush to love a new pet, don’t forget to factor in the long-term costs, both financially and relationally. When your dog destroys furniture, you will need to replace it. If your dog harms a neighbor or passing stranger, you may face expensive medical and even legal costs; you also may have an issue if your future partner is allergic to or dislikes dogs.

Also, hopefully you will form a lasting bond with your pet, but if you don’t, you will potentially lose a lot of money if you have to return the dog and try to resell all of the different dog necessities you purchased. Some apartments don’t allow dogs or pets, so be sure to factor that in as well.

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