Responsible dog ownership involves more than just love.
Food, water and shelter are essential. Vet care can't be avoided. You must provide mental and physical stimulation in the form of exercise and training, socialization and a good diet. It's up to you to keep your dog safe and teach it to become a good citizen.
Responsible dog ownership involves money.
In some cases a lot of money. If you can't afford a dog then it is not responsible for you to get one. You also must remember that generally bigger dogs cost more than smaller dogs in food and vet care, and two dogs cost twice as much as one.
How much money are you talking?
Let's look at the first year of one healthy puppies life. The numbers provided below are approximate, they could be less or much more depending on your location, the size of dog and how much you are willing to spend.
"Free"-$1,500+ First you have to buy the puppy which is the cost most people are concerned about, yet in reality is not the biggest equation to consider over the lifetime of a dog. Buying from a reputable breeder may save you thousands in vet bills over the dogs life, with animals there are no guarantees.
$30 Leash and Collar
$30 Dog bed
$20 Food and water bowls
$10+ Toys, each
$20-$100+ Food per month. Depends on size of dog and diet. Keep in mind that a more expensive but higher quality food can save you vet bills in the future.
$1-5 Training treats, per package
$30+ Basic grooming supplies (brush, nail clippers, shampoo)
$25-$100 Hiring a groomer, depends on breed
$20+ Boarding one dog per day
$15 City dog license
$90-$300 Training classes per 6-8 week session. This is not optional. One training class MINIMUM is what I recommend, if at all possible it's better take classes for the entire first year of your dogs life. The time and money spent at this stage will be rewarded in full by a well-trained, obedient and happy pet. The shelters are full of animals who were surrendered due to preventable behavior problems. Don't let your cute puppy be one of them, that is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.
$45+ Each time you walk through the door for an exam
$20 Vaccinations, puppies usually get 3 sets
$25 Fecal analysis
$35 Heartworm test
$115 Blood test
$70 Flea, tick & heartworm prevention for 6 months
$200-$500+ Spay or neuter
After the first year.
So you've bought the essentials, the puppy has grown and is settling nicely into your family. Congratulations! The regular costs involved at this stage are for food and vet care, toys, boarding and grooming.
Saving for an emergency.
Emergencies happen. Emergencies are almost always VERY expensive and it is up to YOU to plan for them. Emergencies can range from broken bones to long-term health problems like allergies or epilepsy. As your dog ages the likelihood of a health problem cropping up increases. Don't find yourself in the situation of not being able to provide for your pet because of your financial situation. The unexpected should be expected and saved for. Add it to your budget! Another route some people choose to take is to get pet insurance. If you can't afford this you should not own a dog!
As an example of what emergencies can happen and how much it can cost I've included the Top 10 Claims Paid in January 2008 by PetCare Insurance:
$3,367.24 Neurological Problems
$3,354.68 Cruciate Ligaments
$3,980.46 Hip Dysplasia
$3,228.29 Anemia, Aplastic
$3,000.00 Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)
$3,000.00 Gastro-Intestinal Problems
$2,916.95 Lameness and Cause Thereof
$2,898.10 Gastric Torsion
It's not a pretty picture, is it? So plan for it.
The cost of dog sports.
This subject will be covered in another post. There is a reason I called this blog K9-CRAZY!