The costs to consider before adding a new pup to your family
By Kaelin Tully
Getting a dog will change your life — for the better! Before that can happen, there’s a lot to consider to make sure you’re ready, including the impact a dog will have on your life financially. Beyond the cost of the dog itself, pet ownership can be expensive.
Expenses generally fall into six main categories: health, food, training, enrichment, basic supplies, and caretaking.
Be sure to do your due diligence to find a responsible breeder that will have ensured that your pup has the best chance of coming home happy and healthy. However, maintaining their good health status will require effort on your part.
The best time to find a veterinarian is before you bring your puppy home. You’ll want to schedule a veterinary appointment ASAP so your new pup can be checked by your veterinarian of choice; puppies will likely need a few more rounds of vaccinations in the first few months. You’ll be responsible for the cost of the vaccinations and any fees your veterinarian charges for routine visits .
Once your puppy is fully vaccinated and is ready to start socializing with other dogs at daycare, puppy classes, and other public places, they’ll be exposed to new environments and types of dogs/animals that they’ve never met before. That full set of vaccinations will help keep your puppy safe while around other dogs.
Most veterinarians suggest bringing in your pets for yearly health check-ups. This will help them keep an eye on your pup as they grow up and be able to spot anything unusual or out of the ordinary for them. The costs for vet visits depend on your choice of veterinarian, if you have pet insurance and the degree of urgency your pet requires.
It isn’t necessary to spend an outrageous amount on dog food, but your puppy will need nutritious, calorie-packed foods to grow. They’ll be growing for the first several months, so you may find yourself going through food more quickly than you anticipated. Check with your breeder, ideally before bringing your pup home, to make sure you have the right kind of food on hand and to learn how much and how often to feed your puppy. You’ll want to feed your puppy the amount and type of food that is correct for their breed and life stage. Many good breeders will provide a sample bag of the food your puppy is currently eating.
Eventually, adult dogs will likely eat about twice a day (minus any fun treats you give them), but puppies will be eating 3-4 times a day while they’re growing.
Speaking of treats, puppies are very food-motivated little creatures. Have different types of treats on hand, from small bite-sized goodies that are appropriate to bring on walks or use in training, to safe-for-puppies “bones” that are good to chew on. Treats can help occupy your puppy and be used in enriching toys that tucker them out mentally. They can also be used to help train your pup to use their crate and to reward the new behaviors or tricks you’ll be teaching them.
The actual cost of food and treats will depend on the amount you buy and the quality of the brands you support; some pet supply stores offer discounts to new puppy owners which can help with big ticket early purchases.
Training isn’t just to teach your dog fun tricks like “shake” or “roll over.” An important part of a puppy’s early life is learning manners and how to follow instructions that will keep them safe.
Introductory puppy training classes are often available at local pet stores.
You may also need to hire a trainer if you want help properly training your dog; this can also be useful if you’ve noticed behavioral issues with your pup that are outside of the typical ups and downs of puppyhood. Training can be a serious financial investment, and can take anywhere from a few visits to several months of work!
A lot goes into creating a happy, safe and warm home for your new dog, even if it verges on the edge of “spoiling” them. Toys and chew toys are not just to distract your puppy while you try to get something else done; they keep your dog’s mind and instincts sharp, and can also help with comfort and teething issues. It is a great idea to have lots of toys for your puppy! Please stay away from rope toys and rawhide.
You will also need safe travel carriers, which should be on hand when you pick your dog up. Having a non-travel crate at home is also necessary if you plan on crate-training your puppy.
You might also consider getting an exercise pen; these can be indoor or outdoor and can help keep your puppy in one area of your house if you can’t watch them for just a few minutes. In general, puppies can’t really be left to their own devices, but sometimes humans have other things to do for a few. Similarly, baby gates can help corral your pup and keep them out of places they’re not allowed to go. And that’s all in addition to other needs, like a bed (or beds!), a collar and harnesses, leashes, jackets, snow/rain booties, poop bags, and much more.
Since not every company offers the benefit of “pupternity” leave, there will also come a time when you can’t spend every waking moment (and then some) with your pup. Depending on where you live, you’ll need to hire a dogwalker, dogsitter, or enroll your puppy into doggy daycare. (FYI: For most of theses services, your dog will need to have all of their vaccines up-to-date, and many places will require your dog to go through a temperament test so the daycare can ensure that all dogs can handle being around other dogs.)
When you travel, you may need to hire a professional pet sitter who can stay with or visit your dog. At least three visits a day is recommended for most dogs who are home alone.
A new dog: They can be costly but they’re worth it!
The cost of owning and raising a dog can seem high, but the end result is to create the best environment possible for your puppy. These costs are important to keep in mind when making the decision to get a dog because many of them will recur over years and add up over time; financial stress can lead to abandonment if dog owners aren’t aware of what it takes to raise an animal.
By providing them with many play options and items/routines designed to keep them safe, your puppy will be totally set up for a healthy and well-adjusted life!