how to reduce cost of owning a dog

7 Ways to Save Money on Dog Expenses

by Amy Smith - 6/12/19

Having a dog for your companion can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also hit your wallet hard. Routine expenses pile up at an alarming rate, especially if you haven’t planned ahead or shopped around. Try these seven tips for cutting down on the cost of owning a dog.

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1. Adopt an Adult Dog

If you’re looking for cost-cutting measures for a dog you already own, skip this tip. But if you’re still searching for the perfect furry friend, consider adopting from a shelter instead of buying from a breeder or pet store. Adoption fees, even at the higher end around $200, are usually drastically lower than buying “brand new,” which can run to over $1,000. And the financial savings is also accompanied by the positive effect of rescuing a dog from confined shelter life — and possibly from euthanasia.

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2. Choose a Different Food Brand

Dog food is likely to be your highest ongoing expense once you become a dog owner. There is a vast difference in cost and composition among dog food brands. Obviously, if your dog has special dietary needs for health reasons, you’ll have to limit your choices to the brands he can tolerate. But even among fewer choices a diligent Internet search can usually turn up less-expensive variations of the type of food you want to feed your dog.

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3. Use Low-Cost Vaccine Clinics

It’s important (and often mandated by law) to keep your dog up to date on certain vaccines, particularly the rabies vaccine, both for his health and the health of other animals and humans around him. Getting these shots at the vet’s office can be pricey. Check your local pet stores and shelters for information on low-cost or free vaccine clinics where you can take for pet for a quick and inexpensive shot to keep him up to date.

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4. Do a Dog Boarding Swap

If your dog is very stimulated by people, cars and other animals outdoors, he may bark loudly. Bring him inside and close the window shades if necessary, to remove the exciting stimulus. A constantly barking outdoor dog can be a real nuisance to neighbors, so you will probably want to train him to sleep inside at night.

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5. Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

Many long-term health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and joint pain, are related to weight. About half of all dogs and cats in the U.S. are considered overweight or obese, and this situation can lead to much higher costs in health care for pets over a lifetime, although you may not see the effects until later in your pet’s life. Avoid overfeeding now to prevent the problems associated with carrying too much weight. A healthy diet, paired with regular vigorous exercise, will make your dog healthier, happier and less costly for you.

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6. Prevent Heartworms, Fleas and Ticks

As with obesity, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to parasites like heartworms, fleas and ticks. The health problems caused by these pests (including Lyme disease, heartworm disease and infections) can be difficult to treat and necessitate ongoing expensive medications. Avoid these medical costs by proactively using preventive treatments for these common parasites.

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7. DIY Grooming

A final area in which you can cut costs is grooming. Brushing, combing, washing, toenail clipping, ear cleaning and even fur trimming can be accomplished at home. Arm yourself with the right tools and a few tips from a professional groomer, roll up your sleeves, and give your dog a shampoo and fur-style. If you’re intimidated by the process, at least cut down on the frequency of trips to the groomer by brushing your dog regularly to keep his fur clean and free of mats.

Amy Smith is a writer, specializing in family and parenting topics. She teaches English, Latin, and music at a private school and lives with her husband and five children on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania.