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Budgeting for Dog Adoption

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Looking for a new puppy or dog to join your family? While there are so many great reasons to adopt your next dog including the fact that you’ll be saving a life, there’s another great reason to opt to adopt: you’ll also be saving money.

Adopting a shelter or rescue dog can be the most economical way to find your new best friend. The adoption fees vary from rescue to rescue and by location but, on average, expect to spend about $100 at shelters with somewhat higher fees for rescues. Because of the higher demand for puppies, puppy adoption is also a little pricier at many locations while dogs that are slower to be adopted — senior dogs, special needs dogs, and even black dogs — are often available at discounted adoption fees.

The adoption fee typically includes a whole suite of veterinary services that the dog has already received including:

  • Spay or neuter: $150-$250, depending on size and gender
  • First year of shots: $150
  • Microchipping: $50
  • Deworming: $30

That all adds up to $380-$480 in care the adoptable dog has already received (which  doesn’t even include other veterinary care the dog has probably received such as heartworm and flea preventative). Many shelters also provide a free month of pet insurance upon adoption. Our Irie came with such a policy and we used it to treat her demodectic mange, a big savings for us.

Compare that to the $100 adoption fee, and it’s easy to see that the adoption represents about $280-$380 in savings that you would have spent if you’d purchased the veterinary services on your own.

Next on the budget: your “startup” costs for a new dog. Every dog, regardless of size and age, will need to start life in your home with some basics; depending on your lifestyle and activities, you can build from this starter kit. Every dog will need:

  • a collar: For identification purposes, your dog will need a collar; prices start at $3-5 for quick-release nylon collars.
  • dog tag: Basic tags start at $4.
  • a walking collar or harness: Whether you opt for a harness (great for training; we love front clip harnesses), a martingale collar (for dogs that try to back out of their collars), or other harness, you’ll want a collar or harness especially for walking and training. Both start at $6-12.
  • leash: Get a fixed (not retractable) leash that feels comfortable in your hands, whether that’s a nylon or leather leash. Starting at $5.
  • dog food: Money spent on premium food is a great investment; premium dog food runs about $12-$18 per 4- to 6-pound bag (although you can find specials). Before purchasing a food, however, find out what food the shelter/rescue was feeding and purchase the same brand for your first bag. You can slowly transition your dog to another brand bit by bit to prevent any digestive issues.
  • dog bed: Every dog loves their own dog bed but you can save money here by making your own using discarded linens and sweaters. Cost: free; $15-$30 for inexpensive beds.
  • dog house: If your dog will be spending much time outdoors, even if it’s just while you’re running errands, you’ll need to supply a good dog house to provide protection from the elements. Search Freecycle and Craigslist for free and low-cost options. Expect to pay from $30-$80 for a basic dog house, depending on size.
  • crate: Along with giving your newly-adopted dog his own special place in his new home, crate training can also speed housetraining. Again, watch for crates on Freecycle and Craigslist as well as thrift shops. Cost: $30-$130 if new, depending on size and design.
  • bowls: You’ll need a minimum of two bowls for your dog’s food and water although we recommend two of each for rotation in the dishwasher. Watch for stainless steel bowls at thrift stores for $1-$2 each.
  • toys: Ahh, the sky’s the limit here but some well-chosen toys can be a money-saver, providing your newly-adopted dog not only with fun but also saving your belongings in the process if you’ve got a chewer on your hands. You might pay a little more for toys designed for tough chewers but can save money in the process.

Many of those first purchases for your newly-adopted dog will last for years to come…as will the love you receive from your new furry family member.

 On the topic of spending, we’re conducting an anonymous Pet Parent Holiday Spending Survey and would love your input!

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About Paris Permenter

Paris Permenter is an award-winning author of over 30 pet and travel books. Along with her husband, John Bigley, Paris is the founder and publisher of CatTipper and DogTipper.

  • Sharon

    Being prepared financially is so important Paris, thank you for sharing this topic!