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The “Dog Days” of Budgeting


I love my dog — but man, oh man, does he get expensive! Before I adopted my dog, I anticipated the cost of food and routine veterinary care. I didn’t factor the costs of grooming, training, boarding, occasional doggy day care while I’m at work, toys, leashes, collars, washes, veterinary care that’s more-than-just-routine-prevention … the list seems endless!

Are you a dog lover on a tight budget? Here are some tips I’ve picked up along the way to defray the high costs of adding a dog to your family.

#1. DIY Supplies! Do-it-yourself projects can help you save a lot of money. Use items around the house, like bottles and old unused children’s stuffed animals, as dog toys. Instead of going out and buying an expensive dog bed from Petco, make your own. There are many tutorials online available to show you how to convert your old pillows into a comfy dog bed — without even using a sewing machine!

One disclaimer: don’t give your dog any object that contradicts his training. If you’re trying to train him not to chew your shoes, don’t give him an old pair of shoes as a play toy. You might not mind that he’s chewing an old pair, but he won’t be able to discern the difference between old and new!

#2. Become a Grooming Expert. Watch online videos that teach you how to properly groom your dog. One of the biggest budget-biting financial costs to owning a dog is grooming them. If you can learn how to properly do so yourself you will save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It will definitely require time and training, and you might give Fido a funny haircut on your first attempt. But you’ll get better at it over time — and it’s a skill you’ll maintain throughout your life.

#3. Spay or Neuter! On it’s face, this doesn’t seem like a money-saving tip. After all, spay/neuter services cost between $50 – $150, depending on the clinic you attend and the area you live in. But this is one expense that’s worth undertaking. Having a litter of puppies can put unnecessary strain on your wallet. It also aggravates the overpopulation problem. If you get your pet spayed or neutered you won’t have to pay for the expenses associated with a litter of puppies, but more importantly, you won’t be burdened with the emotional cost of trying to find them a good home.

#4. Feed your Dog Properly. Look, I’m not suggesting that you starve your dog. But loving pet owners have a tendency to overfeed their dogs, leading to obesity, diabetes and other health concerns. Obesity in dogs (and cats) is actually becoming a major pet-health crisis in the United States. So do your budget and your dog a win-win favor by only providing the proper amount of food, and saving fatty “treats” as occasional indulgences rather than daily chow.

#5. Give them Love and Attention. Behavioral and health problems can stem from inactivity. And it’s far cheaper to spend time with your dog then it is to pay expensive veterinarian bills. So make it a habit to take your dog to the park or go for a walk around the block. You and your dog will both maintain better health, and your dog will be less likely to endure the costly health problems associated with lack of exercise.

Kennedi writes about cheap fashion and other women’s money topics at Face & Fitness.

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My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. When my son was born I had to give my dog to my brother because it was too tough in NYC for us both. Now she is in a GREAT big home getting love from 3 twenty something males.

    • I hope you still visit your dog once in a while! I had to give up a dog once, and it’s not easy!

  2. Dog toys are easy to make with tennis balls and some old, heavy-duty rope. Good points.

    • You know, pretty much anything could become a dog toy. If they enjoy chewing it up and you don’t mind sacrificing whatever it is, then you’ve got yourself a dog toy. 😉 Thanks for the comment Mike!

  3. We love our dogs. They do get expensive though! But well worth it 🙂

    • Dogs are awesome. I just spent a few days with my friend and her 3 dogs. It was a blast! But yes, they can certainly get expensive, especially if they grow ill.

  4. Definitely agree about spaying/neutering if you will not be planning on having them make a litter someplace (whether male/female).
    And really agree regarding the proper feeding. We’ve got a rather skinny Pug that loves to cuddle and is full of energy at almost a year old. If she works out anything like our 12 year old Retriever (who acts like she’s 6-7 years old), our Pug have a long and healthy life.

    I admist that I don’t understand the doggy day care while you’re at work, unless it is for more than 8-10 hours. A crate is very useful in these situations, and also helps them to realize when they are puppies that there should be some relaxation time during their day (even with a toy or two in the crate with them). With that being said, my wife stays at home – primarily for the kids – but is readily around to take care of the puppy too.

    • I think I want to get a larger dog in the next couple of years, but if I do, I’m going to buy a house with a big yard! No doggie daycare for me. He’ll have room to roam outside. 🙂

      • Good idea Derek. I know our Retriever enjoys the 1.5 acres that we have, as she roams around it of her own free will (no fence, electric or otherwise). The Pug doesn’t seem to comprehend the boundaries just yet, but she’s only 9 months old now, she’s gotten a lot better with them.

  5. I go for advice #3. It’s not easy to have lots of pets at home and if you think you’re not capable of it, then it’s better to have them spayed or neutered instead of having the added burden of finding good people to take them in.

    • Good point MMI. If you’re not in the breeding business, then your pets should really be spayed or neutered. Thanks for the comment!

  6. I know how you feel. These dog expenses and grooming are sometimes even more expensive than humans’. Lol But hey, we love them that much so we’re cool. And great tips and we’ll probably do some of these tasks ourselves from now on.

    • Glad the article helped you out KC!

  7. This is probably the big reason we don’t have a dog. Our budget is fairly tight right now and having a dog not only means more expenses but also more work and time which I don’t have right now. On top of that my yard is only a 1/2 an acre which really isn’t big enough for a dog to run around in.

  8. Having a dog is really quite expensive. I used to have one when I was a kid but right now I can’t afford to take care yet of a dog because of my little baby. Wish to have one again when my baby gets older.

  9. I’m fortunate enough that other family lives in the same town so I don’t have to ever worry about doggie day care but if it ever came to being needed I would first try to ‘trade’ with a neighbor or friend. If you know someone who has a dog they probably need just as much help with their dog as you need with theirs. I know others who are part of a list and each time they need someone to watch their pets they simply send out an email to see who is available that day.

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