For many people, the joys of having your own dog far outway the chewed shoes, walks in the pouring rain and never-ending balls of fluff around the house.
But just as many of us have felt the sting of how much these animals cost.
Pets4Homes list financial concerns as one of the top five reasons a pet is given up and the Scottish SPCA say: “Before making the decision, you investigate the costs of pet food, pet insurance, grooming and fees at your local veterinary center so that you are fully prepared for the ongoing costs of having a pet.”
Dog charities and money-saving professionals agree that in order to get the most out of having a dog they have to fit into your family’s budget and the good news is that there is plenty of advice and options out there for doing exactly that.
Things to think about before getting a Dog
In order to keep your dog and family budget safe and looked after there are a few things to consider before buying.
Pet Insurance is there to help protect against the cost of unexpected vet bills and is by no means an unnecessary expense but it is worth shopping around to get a good deal.
Money Advice Service says that the average pet insurance claim is £793, but they can run into the thousands especially if your dog develops an ongoing health condition – that’s easily the cost of your family holiday for the year.
One of the biggest things that will affect the cost of your insurance is the type of dog you buy so this should be at the top of your list.
Pedigree dogs are more expensive to insure because they are more prone to hereditary illnesses than crossbreeds.
A French Bulldog, for example, is consistently one of the most expensive breeds to insure because they suffer breathing problems, raking in up to £358 a year for a lifetime policy.
According to Which? this is over £200 more than the cost of cover for a Jack Russell terrier at £133.
Comparison sites also recommend that the earlier you insure your dog the cheaper it will be because it will have fewer pre-existing conditions, making for fewer exclusions and greater choice between policies.
Rehome rather than buy
The Dogs Trust fee for adopting an adult dog is £185 in England, Wales and Scotland and their fee for adopting a puppy is £240.
This is a huge saving on the thousands of pounds it costs to buy a puppy from a certified breeder- and they should always be bought from certified breeders.
A quick scan of Kennel Club Puppies in Edinburgh reveals labrador puppies for £2,800 and a massive £2,500 for a Dachshund.
Dog Trust says: “Every dog we rehome is vaccinated, microchipped and neutered (or we’ll give you a neutering voucher if they haven’t yet been neutered).
“We’ll also give you a new Dogs Trust lead and collar, starter pack of food, and 4 weeks free insurance from our partner Petplan.”
Rehoming a dog will keep the first round of health costs to a minimum and they will make sure your pet is neutered.
There are a number of ways you can stay up to date with the latest stories from the Daily Record.
You can join the conversation on our Money Saving Scotland Facebook group for money-saving tips, benefits news, consumer help and advice, plus the latest shopping deals.
Sign up to our Record Money newsletter to get the top stories sent straight to your inbox every Tuesday and Friday – you can sign up here.
You can also follow our Twitter account @Recordmoney_ for regular updates throughout the day.
Fo ster rather than buy
The coronavirus pandemic has seen the number of unwanted dogs skyrocket and dog charities come under huge amounts of pressure to look after them.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many fostering programs have had to pause while the organizations minimize person to person contact or they have become overwhelmed by the number of people hoping to foster.
This is because they are a great way to get all the benefits of having a dog, without the financial commitment.
Dogs Trust says this is a great option for dog-lovers who are not ready to adopt yet and they added: “We’ll support you every step of the way and provide food, bedding and any other practical things you need.
“We’ll also cover the costs of any veterinary treatment.”
The only catch is that you do need to live near a rehoming center, you can’t have children and it’s advised that you have experience with dogs.
Pet care is one of the most thriving industries in the UK and you only have to have one friend with a dog to see how many doggy jumpers, jackets, harnesses, blankets, toys, lick pads and beds they have.
The most recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics revealed that expenditure on pets and related products reached an annual value of £7.9 million in 2020.
The trick is to shop for toys that last to avoid rebuying and to resist temptation when buying that matching coat, collar and lead.
To keep vet bills down make sure you are keeping your pet healthy with plenty of walks.
Not only will this help them stay healthy, but it will also help with costly behavioral issues you may be having.
A tired dog is a happy dog and a happy dog won’t chew the carpet or wee in the corner of the room and you won’t have to pay to replace it.
If you don’t mind a few uneven doggy haircuts while you practice with the clippers, home grooming might be an option for you.
The Pet Industry Federation says it “considers that professional pet grooming is essential for a pet’s health and welfare and provides many health benefits which may not be immediately obvious.”
“It helps keep the coat clean and free from knots and matts, and in so doing help prevent more serious welfare issues building up.”
This means it’s a really important cost to factor into your budgets from the start and while sending your dog to a groomer can be expensive, depending on your breed it could be essential- again think about the breed if you want to keep this cost down ( think short coat and a pub that loves baths).
Home grooming might not replace a professional cut but it might make the time between visits less thus saving you money.
Finally, you should try and apply the savings tactics you use for your own food shopping to the food you buy for your dog.
Consider the cost of the food you buy and whether or not there are cheaper options available.
A vet might be able to recommend alternatives if you think your dog has expensive taste and once you have found a good option try and bulk buy and keep an eye on sales.
Often the more you buy the cheaper it is and dog food, especially tinned food, has a very long shelf life.
Get the latest money-saving and benefits news sent straight to your inbox. Sign up to our weekly Money newsletterhere.