You’re in debt and not sure how you will cover next month’s rent. When friends invite you out, you politely decline because you gave up non-essentials months ago. So, is it a wise decision to add to your expenses by getting a dog?
Let’s start with the upfront costs, which might surprise you. According to a 2022 report from Rover.com, 38% of dog owners believed their upfront costs would be around $500 when the actual costs ranged from $1,050 to $4,480.
While a dog is man’s best friend, taking care of one for many years comes at a high price. According to the ASPCA, small dogs have an estimated monthly cost of $43, medium dogs cost an average of $56 per month and large dogs cost an average of $87 monthly. And that doesn’t take into consideration special dog food for ailments or emergency visits to the vet. But like most things, a little planning can help you keep the bills low and manageable.
Here are a few ways your new addition can add to your debt load:
- Breeder/pet store or rescue shelter costs
- Leashes, toys, and chews
- Veterinarian care
- Pet sitter
- Optional pet insurance
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Is A Dog Worth The Cost?
You could be looking at these large expenses and shaking your head “no way.” But you might change your mind after we delve a bit below the surface.
Despite the cost, a dog is an investment in unconditional love. That puppy breath can trigger a release of endorphins. Cuddling with them can lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. Needing to walk them can get you out of the house and lift your mood. And you can’t put a price on having a best friend who never lets you down. The emotional support and constant companionship that helps stave off social isolation could make having a dog the smartest decision you ever make.
Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, and improve your overall outlook. When you can’t afford to join your friends for a night out, your fur baby will be your constant companion. If there is a dog park nearby, you can socialize your dog in an environment where humans also tend to bond—and it won’t cost a penny. You never know, you could find the love of your life or make a new connection that leads to a better-paying job.
And think about this:
- When you watch Netflix with your pup, you’ll always choose which show to watch
- You’ll have the best conversations because your dog will never disagree
- Your pup will always look up to you and never judge you
How To Pay Less On Your Furry Friend
Let’s go back to the numbers for a minute. When it comes to medical expenses, there are many humane societies that offer discounted vet care and grooming services. Once a pet company gets wind of your email address, they will bombard you with coupons for food, treats, and chews.
Since most dog owners continue to shop at the same place, you will receive exclusive discounts by signing up for their loyalty program. You might also have a friend who has items to pass on if their dog doesn’t like a food or treat or has outgrown their little wardrobe.
Here are 5 more ways to keep costs under control, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC):
- Don’t cut corners when it comes to preventive medications and vaccinations. Those few extra dollars you spend on heartworm or flea & tick medication can save you thousands of dollars in vet bills in the long run.
- If rescuing a pet doesn’t fit your needs, only purchase from a reputable breeder. They charge more than the average pet store, but you’re paying for expertise in breeding dogs for good health.
- Brush your dog’s teeth because a dog over the age of three will likely have periodontal disease if you don’t. The cost of dog dental care includes anesthesia and blood work, which could cost $1,000 or more.
- Brush your pet’s hair at least once a week since groomers charge extra for removing mats and knots.
- Have a credit card or savings account dedicated to pet care so that vet emergencies won’t put your finances into a tailspin. For instance, CareCredit was created exclusively for veterinary financing.
Speaking Of Credit Cards…
According to a Lending Tree survey, pet owners rely on credit cards to finance emergency medical expenses. More than 40% would turn to their credit card, 26% would use cash, and 21% would tap savings to avoid debt.
If you’re already struggling with debt, you might ask yourself, “Why get a pet that could lengthen the time it takes to pay off lenders and even add to my debt load?”
The answer goes back to your mental health. Your financial challenges could affect more than your wallet. By having the emotional support of a loyal pet, you can avoid the detrimental effects that often accompany debt. And that alone is priceless.
If you need help, National Debt Relief can help you pay off your debt for less than you owe—in a shorter amount of time. Our debt coaches can also show you how to build pet expenses into your budget while simultaneously paying off your lenders.