If you melt into a puddle of goo when you see a cute dog on the street (guilty as charged!), you probably romanticize what it would be like to have your own pooch at home.
Endless snuggles. Puppy kisses. Long walks every day. A wagging tail to greet you when you walk in the door.
But of course, if you actually brought a dog home with you, you’d soon realize that your version of life with a furry friend wasn’t exactly accurate. Dogs need lots of attention. They require exercise, discipline and seemingly endless amounts of food, treats and toys. And then there are all the visits to the vet for vaccines, poop samples and questions like, “If my dog ate a pair of my underwear, will he be OK?”
As much as you think you want a dog and can handle the responsibility, don’t forget that getting a pet is also a financial decision. These four-legged fur-children can be pretty expensive, so make sure you consider your family’s budget before you march into your local Humane Society.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that your first year of owning a dog will cost you between $1,400 and $2,000, depending on the pup’s size. And that’s just the first year—the ASPCA estimates ongoing costs range from $700 to $1,000 each year after that.
Of course, those are just averages. If your pup has medical complications or requires special food, you could be looking at an even more expensive pet.
If all these numbers have scared you into thinking you’ll never be able to afford a dog, don’t freak out. There are a few ways to save money (while not sacrificing the care you give to your dog, of course!).
First, consider the adoption fee. You’re going to spend a fortune if you buy from a breeder versus adopting from a nonprofit animal shelter.
According to Rover, a purebred pup can range from $1,000 to $15,000, depending on the breed. A shelter, on the other hand, typically charges a fraction of that. A Sacramento real estate agent made headlines last year when she agreed to cover a local shelter’s adoption fees—between $80 and $100 per dog—for the last six or so weeks of 2016.
Plus, the adoption fee at a shelter can come with lasting perks, such as free or discounted visits to the shelter’s in-house veterinarian or access to training classes.
Even if you don’t adopt from your local animal shelter, they often offer low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries to members of the public. The Humane Society of the United States also has a list of resources available to pet owners in every state.
And if you haven’t already, it’s best to start building an emergency fund for unexpected expenses, which includes accidents, injuries and other pet-related emergencies. You can also consider investing in pet insurance.
If you think you can fit a fur-baby into your budget, check out this awesome matchmaking website that will help you find the perfect rescue companion!