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Can you really afford a dog?

dog

They're cute, cuddly and undeniably loyal... but all that puppy love comes with a hefty price tag. Many people leap into pet ownership with the best of intentions, only to realise that they simply cannot afford all the ongoing expenses associated with properly caring for a four-legged family member. Before you head out and choose a pooch to give your heart to, consider if you can really afford a dog. You may be surprised at how much it can actually cost; it turns out they're not that much cheaper than having kids after all. Upfront costs Whether you buy a pedigree from a breeder or adopt a rescue dog from the RSPCA, there will be costs involved ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. There may be 'cheaper' pets available at pet stores, but they are often bred in puppy farms so they're far from an ethical option - not to mention the health conditions that can come with interbred dogs. If you want to do the right thing, it will involve shelling out some serious cash. Cost: $500 to $4,000+, depending on the breed, and whether you adopt or buy. Medical expenses A visit to the vet for de-sexing, microchipping and vaccinations is a must for your new family member - unless of course this has already been done for you, as is sometimes the case with pups you adopt from the RSPCA. Vet bills will quickly become a prominent feature of your ongoing budget, as you take your pet back in for check-ups, vaccinations and boosters, and the inevitable health problems that come with ageing. Don't forget they may need medication too, which can be a hefty expense if your dog has a serious health issue. Cost: up to $1,000 for the initial visit, then $200 to $300 per year over the dog's lifetime.  Council registration fees Depending on where you live and what breed of dog you have, you could be slugged with fees ranging from $50 to $500 for council registration. De-sexed dogs tend to cost less to register than restricted breeds, which are considered more risky to have in suburban areas. Council registration needs to be paid and renewed every year, and services like doggy day care (or approved to keep your pet in a body corporate building) may be refused without it. Cost: up to $500 for one year - contact your local council to confirm.  Equipment  Just like having kids, owning a dog can come with a whole lot of equipment. Before you know it, your home may be overrun with dog toys, collars and leads, a dog bed or two, food and water bowls, and maybe even a crate for them to sleep in. You might also need special equipment if you plan on transporting your pet in the car or on your pushbike, or if they're going to be taking airline trips. You can scrimp a little in some areas here, but even if you go into the store with a budget your willpower is likely to crumble when you see all the gorgeous goodies on offer - because your best friend deserves the best, right?! Cost: up to $500, depending on how spoilt your pooch is!  Pet insurance This can save you a bomb if your pet develops a serious illness or injury, but be sure to triple-check the fine print for any exclusions, and shop around for a good deal. Costs can vary considerably depending on the age and breed of your pet, and some breeds have well-known health problems that may not be covered. Cost: $400 to over $1,000 per year.  Food Again, depending on the breed, size and life expectancy of your dog, you could spend close to $10,000 over its lifetime filling that stainless steel bowl. Some people like to make their own dog food to save money, but it's important to make sure your precious pup is getting their required vitamins, minerals and energy each day, so always check with your vet before embarking on a quest to cook your own concoction. You'll also need to stock up on treats and chews, but you may be able to buy in bulk to save a little cash. Cost: around $650 per year, depending on breed, size and the dog food you choose. Grooming Obviously, short-haired breeds will need less TLC in the grooming department than scruffy fluff-balls. Regardless, it's not an area you can scrimp on, as insufficient grooming can lead to a host of health problems including dental disease and dermatitis. Some dog groomers will come to your home, saving you the hassle of loading your pet into the car, but expect to pay more for this privilege. Cost: around $50-$70 each time, which could be once or twice per year, or as often as monthly for a particularly hairy breed.  What about walkies? If you work full time or have other commitments, can you really make yourself available to walk your pooch regularly, or take him to the off-leash park for a game of fetch? Dogs need regular exercise and stimulation, not to mention training - do you have time for all that? As a responsible pet owner, you'll want to make sure your dog gets the attention they deserve, even when you can't be around. That could mean paying a dog walker to take care of it for you, adding yet another expense to the "Pet Costs" tally on your budget. And don't forget pet-sitting costs if you plan on travelling without your dog! Cost: varies greatly dependent on the area you live, length of time and experience of the dog walker. Expect to pay anything from $15 to $50 for each outdoor adventure.  If you've finished reading this list and have realised you probably can't afford a dog of your own, don't despair. You can always offer to pet-sit for friends and family members when they go on holidays, and become the fun aunt or uncle - all the treats and playtime, without the expenses or responsibilities. This article contains information that is general in nature. It does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You need to consider your financial situation and needs before making any decisions based on this information. 

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