If you’ve ever had a dog, then you probably already know that they’re great companions. And most people who haven’t had pets would agree that it’s nice to have one around even though there are some very good reasons why you might not want one. Dogs are messy, smelly and expensive. They eat lots of food and destroy furniture. They chew on electrical cords and run away from fences. And sometimes they bite people (like assholes).
But those aren’t the only reasons to avoid owning them. There are also health issues associated with having dogs as pets, including but not limited to canine hepatitis, distemper, rabies and parvo. If you have allergies, or asthma, you should think twice before getting a pooch. It may seem like an easy way out, but you could end up living with a cat instead. Or maybe just take care of a ferret.
Why Get a Dog?
As we mentioned earlier, dogs are really cool. You can play with them, teach them tricks, give them baths, feed them and cuddle them. Plus, they lick themselves clean after accidents. That’s pretty sweet. The downside is that dogs eat and defecate often, making their presence around the house annoying.
Most people don’t start looking into getting a dog because they love dogs so much. Instead, they’re attracted by the idea of being able to walk Fido outside whenever he wants. For many, this is really all they need. Others are more concerned with the fact that dogs require more maintenance than cats do, which include cleaning litter boxes, feeding, bathing and grooming.
There are also safety concerns with dogs. Many experts point out that kids shouldn’t have dogs because they’re too unpredictable. Their owners say that the same thing goes for teenagers. Some schools ban them altogether. When kids have dogs at home, they can become aggressive with each other and with strangers. This isn’t necessarily true, however, since dogs in shelters tend to be more aggressive toward humans than those owned by their owners.
On top of these issues, dogs are generally more expensive than cats to own. This doesn’t mean that you should never get a dog, but it does make you think harder about whether you really want one. Here are some other questions you should ask yourself: Do I have enough room in my apartment/house to accommodate a dog? Can I afford to pay for boarding fees and vet bills every time my pooch chews off the tip of its tail? Will I be comfortable walking a pet everywhere I go? Are you willing to spend hours playing with your dog? What kind of lifestyle will your dog fit into?
These questions may sound silly, but they’re important ones to answer honestly. Don’t underestimate how much effort, energy and money you’ll put into raising a puppy or older dog. Take your answers seriously.
Dog ownership basics
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Never leave your dog unsupervised unattended inside a vehicle. There was a story recently where two young girls took a pit bull for a ride in a car while their parents shopped. After dropping their little buddy off at the pound, the couple returned to discover that the animal had somehow escaped and attacked another woman. Both girls were badly injured, and the owner of the pit bull died during surgery.
Another common mistake is leaving your dog alone in the yard. A lot of dogs enjoy digging holes and chasing squirrels, so they’ll do it no matter what you tell them. One unfortunate victim discovered his backyard overrun with holes dug by his beloved pup. He spent days filling them back in, which led him to hire someone to come in and fill them again.
Another option is to buy a fence. Not only can this keep your dog confined, but it also gives you something else to worry about besides keeping your lawn neat. Also, be sure to check with the local neighborhood association or homeowner’s association if you live in an area where dogs are banned.
It’s always a good idea to get your dog spayed or neutered. Unspayed females can reproduce every year, which means more puppies. Male dogs can roam freely and mate with multiple females, which leads to more stray animals. Spaying and neutering also reduces the risk of cancer in both male and female dogs.
When you bring home a new puppy, make sure you introduce it to everyone in the family. This includes children and elderly relatives. Puppy classes are a good place to learn about housetraining and socialization. Once your new pet has settled in, you can help train it. Make sure to read up on training techniques.
Some people claim that you can save money on your next vet visit by taking your dog to see a holistic veterinarian rather than a traditional one. In general, this isn’t true, although you may find a few exceptions. Most importantly, you should consult your vet before using any alternative method of treatment.
Finally, make sure you plan ahead for unexpected medical expenses. In case none of the above methods work, you should know how to perform CPR. As gross as it sounds, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Since dogs are such popular pets, they usually come with a price tag attached. Of course, this varies depending on breed and age. Young puppies can be bought for less than $100, while adult pups can range anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands. Older dogs are typically cheaper than younger dogs.
Other factors affecting your final bill include whether you opt for a purebred or mixed breed, and whether you choose an AKC registered dog or not. Prices depend largely on demand and availability. Here are some average prices for different breeds:
Beagle – $150 to $300
Golden retriever – $800 to $1,500
Labrador retriever – $700 to $3,000
Poodle – $400 to $2,000
Shih tzu – $250 to $900
Shetland sheepdog – $750 to $1,200
Chihuahua – $50 to $450
Toy fox terrier – $150 to $600
Standard Schnauzer – $650 to $4,000
German shepherd – $800 to $5,000
Irish wolfhound – $1,200 to $7,000
Pet insurance coverage can cover veterinary services, prescription medications and hospital stays. Coverage options vary, so shop around to find the best deal for your needs. The lowest price doesn’t guarantee that you’ll receive the highest quality of care, however. Here are some ways to ensure you’re getting what you paid for:
– Ask about the doctor’s credentials and experience. Look for diplomas or certifications.
– Check references. Call former patients to confirm patient satisfaction.
– Don’t assume that the cheapest price is the best choice for you. Shop around until you find the right match.
– Keep receipts and records of past visits and lab tests. Have proof of vaccinations.
– Make sure that the practice uses state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
– Make sure you understand the benefits and limitations of pet plans.
– Read up on potential risks involved with certain procedures.
– Talk to other customers about their experiences with the practice.
– How much do dogs cost? Pet insurance and other costs
After shopping around and doing research, you’ve decided to add a new member to your household: a pet. Before you head down to the nearest shelter to pick up your new furry friend, you should consider pet insurance. Getting insurance for your pet can save you hundreds, even thousands, of dollars on routine vet care over the life of your pet.
Before signing anything, however, you should contact your current insurer and compare policies. While some companies won’t offer discounts for pet insurance, others may charge higher premiums due to pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes. Be sure to ask about the specific details of your policy before you decide to switch providers. Because of the wide variety of pet insurance options available today, choosing the perfect policy can be overwhelming. To narrow down your choices, look at the following criteria:
Coverage limits — The amount that you’ll be responsible for paying out of pocket for vet care and treatments.
Waiting periods — Length of time between payments before full coverage kicks in.
Coinsurance — Percentage of total vet charges covered beyond the deductible.