Dog Ownership for Poor People

I’m sure this article was well intended. It was perhaps written to remind potential dog owners that nothing in life is free – even a free dog – and that there are financial responsibilities that come along with dog ownership. That said, I must offer my low/no cost alternatives to some of the expenses listed in the article:

Basic supplies: Food bowls, a leash and toys can cost $35 to $50 even if you restrain yourself. Crates can cost an additional $50 to $150, depending on the size.

Food and water bowls can be picked up from the Dollar Store (they don’t have to say DOG on them yo) or you can use something from your own cupboard. Washing bowls regularly is more important than paying for ones with fancy designs. A slip leash (the kind I prefer) can be purchased very inexpensively. Your Vet might even be willing to sell you one if they have adequate supply. Toys depend very much on the individual dog (you don’t want the dog ingesting the toy) but a few ideas: empty plastic milk jugs (can be tied together), raw beef bones, knotted up socks or other old clothing bits, empty water bottles. If you need a crate, try checking your local paper or one of the many online resources (like freecycle or craigslist) where folks pass on used household items at no/low cost. Crates are easily cleaned so as long as the condition is good, there is no need to buy a new one.

Food: What you can expect to pay to feed your new pet will depend on the size of your dog and the quality of the food. A 15-pound bag of dry food from a well-known national brand should cost about $17 at a grocery store, and will last two to four weeks, depending on the size of your dog (an average of $225 to $450 per year). Canned, or wet, food tends to be more expensive.

Healthy table scraps help me save on food costs because I share much of what I eat with the dogs and therefore, almost nothing goes to waste. For example, I may not finish the entire carton of eggs before the “sell by” date, but when I see it’s getting close, I can hardboil the rest for the dogs.

Health care: Expect to pay $200 to $300 a year for nonemergency vet bills, including an annual exam and preventive care for common problems such as heartworm, fleas and ticks.

Heartworm meds can be purchased at a far more reasonable cost than what the major brands go for, without a prescription, at your local feed store or online. HUGE savings right there, provided your vet agrees that this is a safe alternative for your dog.

Grooming: Professional grooming services are a necessity for certain breeds.

Two thoughts:

If interested, you can learn to do at least a passable dog haircut yourself from books at the library or by searching for “how to” pages online. I used to groom a Toy Poodle that showed up in our yard one day. He wouldn’t have won any beauty contests with my grooming but it kept him from turning into the Shaggy Dog.

Alternately, if you don’t have the desire to give regular haircuts at home (I feel ya), you can get a dog that doesn’t need them.

Related Reading: Straight Talk on How You Can Keep Your Dog During the Economic Crisis

2 thoughts on “Dog Ownership for Poor People

  1. Thanks, this is really helpful. I’m not ready to adopt a dog, but it’s nice to know more about the brass tacks. Now that I have a full-time job again, I’d also like to start giving to the local no-kill shelter, and this kinda gives me a context to think about how much I’d like to donate after I’ve got the income thing stabilized.

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  2. Much can be said for using the Internet to find services and programs to assist. In Ohio we have the following – http://www.columbusdogconnection.com/dog_information__links.htm that is just like a phone book for pets. Your local humane society should also have additional information on free & low cost programs offered in your area. Plus – you can contact your local Job & Family Services to see what resources they have – I discovered a place to spay some feral kitties by using their resources and ultimately discovered that I could have it done for free.

    Whenever I talk to someone who is interested in getting a pet I tell them to use Google and that you can often times find programs you never knew existed…and it will give you a good idea of how much you will spend on your animal. Many times people decide it is cheaper in the beginning to go to the local shelter and get a pet from there since they have sterilization and vaccinations done already. The cost you pay for the animal is minimal compared to what it would cost to do it all yourself.

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