The Cost of Becoming a Loving Dog Owner

Dog ownership is like owning a boat – it’s a never-ending expense. As soon as you bring the dog home (which can cost anywhere from a $30 pet adoption fee to $3,000 and up for purebred dogs), there are immediate needs to be fulfilled.

First, you have to have the right kind of dog food. Food choices are age-graded so that what you feed a puppy differs from what you give an adult dog. There are even foods for both puppies and older dogs with extra nutrients to match their unique needs.

Of course, you have to get food and water bowls the right size for the dog. Puppy bowls are closer to the floor and sturdy to avoid tipping over. Then you need a place for the dog to sleep. That can range from flannel blankets piled up in a box to a fully decked out doggie bed that costs more than your bed.

An outdoor dog needs a place to sleep that’s sheltered from the weather. Simply placing a dog inside a fenced kennel isn’t enough. That’s little better than prison. An outdoor dog needs a solid doghouse.

You can get a cedar dog house suitable for a small dog for around $200 or for a large dog, expect to pay upwards of $1,000 for a cedar house that handles weathering well. In extreme climates, your dog needs more than un-insulated walls.

You can add an air conditioner or heating unit to the outdoor doghouse for the cost of the unit plus installation. You can also get an indoor doghouse, which gives medium to small dogs a sense of privacy. A charming rattan indoor doghouse is available for under $200 in smaller sizes.

As time goes on, you’ll add to the bounty your dog owns – moving from necessities to frivolous items. Your major on-going expenses will be upkeep with veterinarian shots, food, and grooming.

Most cities have leash laws that require your dog to be on a leash, under your control when walking in public areas. You need a basic leash that attaches to a dog collar. Dog collars come with matching leashes in neon colors, fine leather, rhinestones or other simulated jewels (or real depending on your budget).

The fashionable dog wears designer collars and leashes, which can match your designer clothing so you make a coordinated pair. A practical option for collar and leash is the reflective collar. If you take the dog out after dark for walking or running, the reflective collar is a valuable safety option for both of you.

The dog toy section is only slightly smaller than what you find in department stores for toddlers. Dog toys range from inexpensive chew items and bones to toy frogs, squirrels or cats that give your dog the sense of mastery over another species.

In cold and wet climates, doggie sweaters or raincoats are practical items. Small dogs really need the extra warmth of the sweater. The trend to dress up dogs in everything from swimsuits to party dresses to Halloween costumes to haute couture quickly runs up the tab for a new wardrobe that you love, but don’t expect every dog to like the idea.

You’ll also find an endless supply of dog training books and videos, dog grooming courses, personal training for dogs and dog exercises. Remember to save some money. You’ll need it for the annual photos of your dog sitting on Santa’s lap!