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How to raise a dog on a budget

Dogs are fun and provide unwavering friendship. But they're also a handful, requiring dedicated upkeep and care. We showcase some tips to help you save money even before you bring a dog home.

By Cheapism.com Aug 25, 2014 1:23PM
This post comes from Josue Ledesma at partner site Cheapism.com.

Cheapism.com on MSN MoneyIf you've ever felt a pang of desire for a canine companion, it's likely to return on Aug. 26, National Dog Day.

Dog © Russell Glenister, image100, CorbisDogs are cute, friendly, and fiercely loyal. They're also a handful, requiring dedicated upkeep and care -- and all the costs associated with it. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals places the cost of dog ownership at $1,300 to $1,800 in the first year alone. Here are some tips to save you money even before you bring a dog home.

Getting a dog
There are many different options when it comes to buying, rescuing, or adopting a dog. Experts recommend going through an accredited breeder or a local shelter and advise against pet stores, which might use profit-driven "puppy mills" as their suppliers. The Humane Society notes that, when all is said and done, a shelter dog is likely to cost less than a dog purchased from a store or even a dog acquired for free, because adoption fees generally include things like vaccinations and spay/neuter surgery. The ASPCA estimates that adoption ranges from $75 to $300. Breeders' prices reach much higher, from $800 to $2,000.

Veterinarians we talked to encourage prospective dog owners to consider personality above all else. Do keep an eye out for potential health problems or behavior issues, which might prove costly in the long run. A healthy dog will require fewer vet visits, and a well-behaved dog will cause less property damage and won't have to be sedated at the vet, which can save upward of $100. Choosing a small dog breed may cut the cost of things like feeding and grooming, although not necessarily.

Choosing a crate
This is one of the first things you'll need when you bring your dog home. A dog crate gives your pet a comfortable place to sleep at night and gives you peace of mind when you're not around to supervise. We found that many pet owners seem to like wire crates best, because they don't seclude the dog completely. The size of the dog does matter here, as larger crates are costlier. We found the Prevue Pet Products Home-on-the-Go (XXS), which reviewers say is the perfect size for a Yorkie, Chihuahua, or daschund, available for about $22. The larger Midwest Homes for Pets iCrate has two doors and comes in multiple sizes starting at $28.

Feeding
This is by far the biggest recurring expense of owning a dog. Cheapism.com compared cheap dog food and named AvoDerm (starting at 9 cents per ounce) the best dry kibble and Canidae Life Stages (starting at 15 cents per ounce) the best canned dog food. Other good choices include Fromm Classic Adult (starting at 10 cents per ounce) and Natural Balance Ultra (starting at 17 cents per ounce). The recommended varieties not only have cheap prices but feature healthful ingredients such as animal protein in place of processed ingredients such as meat byproducts and carbohydrate fillers.

Spaying and neutering
If your pet isn't already "fixed" when you bring him or her home, you can find an affordable spay/neuter program in your area. PetSmart Charities and the ASPCA have partnered to maintain a database of low-cost (or free) providers. The Humane Society offers additional tips, including a list of national and state resources that provide financial help in case your pet develops a medical problem.

Grooming
Going to a dog groomer can get expensive, especially for a large dog with long hair, but there are cheaper alternatives. Seek out dog-grooming schools for discounted services or go to a DIY grooming salon (usually found in high-end pet supply stores). If you really want to save money, do the majority of the grooming yourself and take some preemptive measures. Keeping a dog indoors and brushing its coat regularly reduces the need for frequent bathing. Baking soda is an inexpensive alternative to shampoo that leaves a dog's coat shiny, clean, and odor-free. You can use it dry, and then run a brush through the dog's coat, or use it with water to create lather.

Training
Dog training teaches your pet to be well-behaved in your home and around others, helping prevent potentially costly mishaps. However, the classes can put a strain on your budget. Check your local shelter for obedience training offered at a discount. PetSmart and Petco hold six-week training courses at certain locations. Petco wins out on price: $110 vs. $119 for the entire course.

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19Comments
Aug 25, 2014 6:58PM
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IN this article, you haven't said a word about setting up an emergency fund for vet care.  The biggest expense of owning a pet is not the adoption fee or the food; it is the cost of keeping your animal healthy and getting regular check ups.  The ASPCA deems is cruelty and neglect to not take your dog to the vet when it gets sick or injured, and you have to be prepared to shoulder that cost.  Your dog is no different than your child.  It may not cost a lot to take it home from the shelter, but it needs vaccinations and attention by a professional now and then to keep it and the pets around it free from disease.  If you are living on such a tight budget that you can't afford to go to the doctor yourself and certainly can't scrape up enough for emergencies for your pet, consider a goldfish until your financial situation improves. 
Aug 26, 2014 11:27AM
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You want to purchase a dog? In my lifetime, over 65-years, I have cared for (owned) three dogs. The first dog was mine by accident. The second was a puppy mill dog. And the third was bought from a quality, researched, breeder. And I have a couple of tips for any prospective dog owner:


First, ask yourself and your family, if you have the time and the space to devote to dog care. Second, buy a book about the breed that you want--read. Look carefully at your dog's history. And finally, when selecting a dog, don't pick one, let the dog choose you--come to you. And if none of the dogs in the group are interested in you, then get none. Move on.

And I wish you a lot of love and good luck with your new best friend.


Aug 26, 2014 9:51AM
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Would you put DRY Baking Powder on your head. Dogs have skin and hair oils that they need to be healthy. Buy some Shampoo for Dogs. It helps their skin and coat. It will last as long as a bottle for yourself, maybe longer. You only need to use a little and if you don't think you have enough on them just add a few drops more.

When it comes to food, buy the best you can and don't give them anything Made in China, sometimes the package with say distributed by Such and Such Company, but it doesn't say for who. I don't by that stuff either.

Dogs are Time Buffs, when you feed them at a certain time they will look to be fed at that time. Plan your daily feeding wisely. Also I leave out a little dry all the time, Sometimes I feel I need a little nibble extra too. There are "experts" that don't recommend this and I'll bet they don't raid the Frig either, (Right, Yeh and eye rolls). 

Aug 25, 2014 11:03PM
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Hillary Clinton has a dog face and her daughter has a horse face.
Aug 26, 2014 11:13AM
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My dog died. And everyone said are you going to get another one....I saved so much money by not getting another.
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oh heck no!  "put a dog in a crate?"  thats about the same as putting a dog on a chain and leaving it in the back yard!  your dog is gonna love you more if you dont bind them.
Aug 26, 2014 2:43AM
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this article  likes our english  Reading comprehension . well,i hate it.
Aug 25, 2014 8:19PM
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This is why I own a cat. Or in other words, my cat "owns" me and has allowed me to share his life.   Much less expensive than dogs. Vet bills are less expensive.  No need to take him out for "daily walks."  Eats less - so less expense for food.  Kills mice if they should appear.  Is not "needy" for affection.  Can leave him for a day or two with food  - no need for ""day care"  when i need to travel.  Very loveable (mine is as loveable as a dog, likes to be petted, sits on my lap).  Mine is a good radar detector concerning people.  If my cat doesn't like someone - there is probably a good reason and I need to get them out of my life.  My cat is not "hyper" and doesn't jump all over me or try to "hump" strangers when they arrive.  He is quite a gentleman.  Best of all- doesn't bark or yelp for no reason. 



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