They are shown to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine in the body, can help you exercise and are, well, exceptionally cute to be around. But dogs can bring an array of expenses for young owners that might give them paws for thought (sincere apologies, that pun was unacceptable). Helen Lawless gives us the lowdown on much mutts really cost us…
So in my house we have just taken in the most adorable dog. He really is quite gorgeous. But before you do the same here are a few things to consider finance-wise before you introduce the pitter patter of little paws into your household…
Andrex puppies are expensive! Many people prefer to buy from breeders as they can choose the breed they want and they’re more likely to get a puppy than at a rescue centre. What most people don’t know is that purebred puppies usually cost hundreds of pounds, particularly for more popular breeds like Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Although rescue dogs can come with more emotional baggage, you can adopt one for free and get good karma points for doing so. Not to mention statistically crossbreeds tend to live longer.
Walks will cut into your time: needing to take a dog for two walks or so a day will necessarily impact on your schedule. If all you do is watch Netflix that might not be such a bad thing, but if you are considering getting an evening job or you do anything freelance on the side remember that walks will almost certainly inhibit your capacity to pursue those money-making options.
Dog walkers: if you don’t have the time to give your dog the attention and exercise they need you may need to invest in a dog walker, who usually cost around £10 an hour, or doggy day care, which has a similar cost per hour but tends to cover more hours of the day so costs more overall. You also may need to spend money on kennels or a doggy hotel if you go away for an extended period of time like on holiday. Alternatively you might want to ask a friend or family member who’s an animal lover to help you out. Or if that’s not convenient get yourself a profile on a dog borrowing site like www.borrowmydoggy.com where you can meet local dog-lovers who want to take other people’s dogs off their hands for free.
Expenses beyond food: dogs also need treats, toys, poo bags and trips to the vet. All of the above are regular, reoccurring expenses. A little tip is to buy your dog’s necessities at supermarkets not in pet stores if you’re looking for better value. That is unless you really feel the need to buy your pup oven-baked, all-organic dog biscuits made of better quality meat than you eat yourself.
Initial costs: when you first get a dog there are often a few one-off expenses, start-up costs if you will, particularly if you get a puppy. These can include a lead, collar, harness, engraving a tag and getting them microchipped. Also if they’re a puppy you will need to get them vaccinated – this is pretty much mandatory especially if they’re from a rescue centre.
Pet insurance: simply put there is no dog NHS so pet insurance is a must-have to handle veterinary bills. Pet insurance operates on a monthly or annual basis and tends to cost upwards of £15 a month. Bear in mind your insurance will be more expensive if your dog has not been neutered or spayed, is female or is a pure breed. (Pure breeds have more genetic pre-dispositions to health conditions. Labradors tend to be overweight, Dalmatians often develop hearing problems – read up on your particular breed beforehand to prepare yourself.)
Dog-proofing: you’re going to need a secure place for your dog to sleep overnight. That may either mean buying a cage of some variety or dedicating a room in your house with a lock to pretty much being their den. Also if you have your own garden you may need to update your exterior fencing, especially if you’re getting a taller dog which is more able to jump barriers!
House maintenance: this seems like a negligible one but it actually adds up. Everything in your house is going to get messy. End of story. So you’re going to spend more money on things like running your washing machine, replacing the filters in your vacuum cleaner and general cleaning supplies.
Training: training is an utter necessity especially if you’re considering a larger breed or an older rescue who may have an unpredictable temperament. Although you don’t need to go to classes many people recommend them for at least a couple of months if you want a dog that can play well with others and that you can trust to roam freely off the lead. Training classes and socialisation classes vary widely in price but a way to make them more cost-efficient is to choose a course where you only pay for every week you attend and then get a curriculum ahead of time. That way you can only attend the classes which focus on the skills you’re really struggling with at home and skip the extra cost of the ones you have already honed.
Large unexpected costs: even well-behaved dogs can surprise you by eating your shoes or your sofa. And even with pet insurance vet bills can still be considerable if for example your pooch needs surgery or has puppies. If you don’t have savings to fall back on these moments can be quite sticky.
As an unapologetic dog lover this blog is in no way supposed to advise you to not get a dog. Your life will be richer, happier and you will almost certainly not regret it given you will fall in love with them. The above is just to let you know what you’re getting yourself in for financially. As for the emotional rollercoaster, there’s not much I can say to prepare you for that, but I’d recommend you go watch Marley & Me.