How I Met My Dog

Real Talk: Can I Afford a Dog?

Adopting a dog is an extremely rewarding experience. Offering your love and companionship to an animal in need is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Dogs are cute, cuddly companions who will love you endlessly but, dog's can't live on love alone.  

Every year, four million dogs enter our shelter system. Many of those dogs end up in need of a new home because the first person that loved them could simply no longer afford to keep them.

Because the average lifespan of a dog is 10-13 years, being informed about the average cost of those years is the first step to becoming a responsible pet parent. Use this cost breakdown to help structure a budget and be sure that - before adopting a dog - you can afford one!

The First Year

Your first cost is going to be an adoption fee, which can be anywhere from $5 to $500. We know that’s a huge range, but shelters and rescues are very transparent about their adoption fees and usually post their fee structure on their websites. At How I Met My Dog, we make it even easier. Once you match with a dog on our site, that dog’s P.E.T. profile lists an adoption fee so you know exactly what the cost will be you before you send in an application.

If the dog you want to adopt is not yet spayed or neutered, ask the shelter or rescue if they have a low cost spay/ neuter program. If they do, take advantage by having your new pet spayed or neutered through the shelter or rescue. If they don’t, or if you are adopting from a rehomer, you need to consider the cost of spay/neuter surgery, which is usually around $200. If you want to avoid this cost altogether, consider adopting an older dog that is already spayed or neutered.

Routine vet visits are crucial for keeping your pup healthy and happy. Take your newly adopted dog to the vet ASAP. Getting a full checkup, a microchip implanted, and any necessary vaccines is a great way to protect your pet from preventable illnesses and be prepared if your dog gets lost. Vaccines usually cost anywhere from $20 to $150 and a new microchip should cost you around $45.

If you spend more than six hours a day away from home, your dog will need at least one walk during that time period. If you don’t have neighbors, siblings or a spouse that can walk your pup for free, you will need to hire a dog walker. There are quite a few new companies that offer dog walking and sitting services, but the best we’ve found is Rover. Rover is user friendly and gets great reviews. They also verify their walkers and sitters with a background check, and Rover is offering $30 off your first walk or sitter to How I Met My Dog users and fans! Click here to save.

Now for the fun stuff! Your new dog will need a collar and leash, food bowls, toys, treats, food, a bed, and anything else their happy heart desires! All of these things can cost upwards of $1,000 a year. One way to save on toys is to think ahead. If you have a dog that loves to chew, save yourself the pain of constantly needed to buy new toys by purchasing the most indestructible ones you can find. Another way to save is by getting an adjustable collar. If you have a growing puppy, get a collar that grows with them.

Years 1-13

No matter how responsibly you budget, have a little extra for the unexpected. Emergency vet visits can end up being BIG bills. The best way to avoid that altogether is invest in pet health insurance. One company we trust is Trupanion. Trupanion is recommended by more than 20 thousand veterinarians and a policy provides 90-percent reimbursement on medical bills for unexpected injuries or illnesses, with no payout limits. Head over to their website for a free quote. You will be surprised at how affordable it is.

Happily Ever After

While the first year is typically the most expensive year of owning a dog, regular annual costs are a real thing. The first year can add up to $2,000+ and subsequent years are usually a similar cost minus your adoption fee and spay/neuter surgery. Being prepared for the cost of owning an animal is a crucial aspect of being a good pet parent. If you can’t afford to keep your dog healthy and happy, you are doing yourself and your pet a disservice. When it comes to living with a pet, there are always creative ways to save money like baking your own treats, using pet-safe household items and toys, and bringing your dog to work, to name a few! If you can afford to adopt a dog, we promise you won’t regret it. The love of a dog is like no other. How I Met My Dog is here to help you find your canine soul mate. Take our comPETibility survey to see what kind of pet parent you are and be custom matched with adoptable dogs that fit your lifestyle and personality.

Need more resources about topics in this article? Check out some of our other pieces:

A Guide for Picking the Right Food for Your Dog

Barking Good Baking: 3 of our Favorite Homemade Dog Treat Recipes

Pooch Prep: 5 Things you Need to Consider Before you Bring Home your New Dog

Well Worth It

Earning a rescue dog's trust and admiration might be a long process. Hang in there, your new pup has been through a lot. In the end, the love you receive will be well worth it. 

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