What People Don’t Realize About Owning A Dog

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It’s no surprise that we love our pets around here. Not only do we have 2 Mad Money Cats (as typically featured in our posts) but we also have 2 Mad Money Pups. Loving our pets is easy, making sure they get exactly what they need to live a long, happy, healthy life is not only time consuming, it’s also expensive. Expensive is a relative term, of course, but when you’re frugal like us, spending money on maintaining pets is a luxurious expense that we allow ourselves.

Today, we have a contributed piece that goes into all of the things you should consider before bringing your new best friend home. Take notes.

If you are thinking about getting a dog, it is highly likely that you have overlooked certain elements of the ownership process. The truth is that owning a dog is not something you want to do lightly, and if you are to make the most of it and look after them properly, you need to make sure you are attending to some basic needs.

Having a dog will change your life for the better, but only as long as you are truly prepared for it. In this post, we are going to look at some of the things that people regularly overlook about having a dog to care for. Make sure you have considered all of these points.

How Much Equipment You Will Need


Mad Money Pups - owning a dog

Mad Money Pups enjoying the couch. #spoiledrotten

First of all, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is a huge amount of stuff you need to get a hold of before you even bring the dog home for the first time. You might think you have a fairly good idea of what you will need, but it is likely that you have left something out or forgotten something entirely.

Many people forget that a crate from the likes of Pet Crates Direct will be necessary for transporting the dog to and from the vets or other locations. And if you’re lucky enough to not have to crate your dog during transport, although you should for safety purposes, you’ll likely still need one at home. Unless you want Fido ripping up your sofa when you step out to visit grandma, a crate is required.

You will also need a few different leashes for different types of walks, as well as a number of bowls for food and water and so on. Make sure you are ready to spend the money necessary to look after them properly and fully. 

The Difficulty Of Housetraining


Housetraining is always going to be essential if you want to enjoy having the dog, and you want them to develop in a normal and healthy way. But while all dogs are capable of such training, it is more difficult for some than for others.

There is no accounting for the personality differences between dogs, and this is something you can’t do much about. As such, you should be prepared to spend significant time training your dog, as it might well take longer than you think.

A good deal of patience is no bad thing when you are preparing to look after a dog for the first time. There will be accidents and there will be sleepless nights. Knowing what to expect is half of the battle. 

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Maintaining Their Health


Maintaining their health is going to require time and money. Sure, it’s easy to go out in the backyard or down to the park to toss around the ball. No money spent. But when it comes to regular and unexpected vet visits, you have no control. You can’t cut corners with their health. It’ll end up biting you in the butt.

There is no getting around this one. Maintaining their health isn’t a frugal venture. Cutting corners in the short-term could mean higher expenses and heartache down the road.

For instance, feeding your dog a cheapo brand food might be great for your wallet today, but it could really cost you in unexpected vet bills for their digestive health tomorrow. Considering this before you jump head first into dog ownership is a must.

They’re Not Puppies Forever


Mad Money Pup - owning a dog

Mad Money Pup at an unexpected vet visit. #notinexpensive

Unfortunately, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is that they forget that puppies grow up. It is all well and good to enjoy the puppy phase – it is part of the whole experience, after all – but you must remember that it does not last forever.

If the sole reason you are buying a dog is to appease the kids and enjoy it as a puppy, then you might want to reconsider.

Once they are grown, they will still require plenty of looking after and lots of care and attention, so that is something that you should bear in mind before you buy that new furry pup.

Being frugal as a dog owner isn’t impossible. But when it comes to their overall health and happiness, you will be spending a certain amount of money. The vet needs to be paid and isn’t going to give you a discount because you’re trying to be frugal. As long as you remember all of these points and are okay with accepting dog ownership as a frugal exception and a luxury, you should find that owning a dog is one of the best things you ever do.

What are your thoughts? Is owning a dog worth the expense if you’re on the path to financial independence? Obviously, we think so.

11 comments… add one
  • Jason Dec 1, 2017, 7:10 pm

    We have a dog and can’t imagine our live without him. We are even thinking about getting another one. I figure our dog costs us about $75-$100 a month in terms of food, a care policy (from our vet), treats, toys, etc. I would encourage people to rescue dogs. They are often already housetrained and a lot of dogs you don’t need to crate. We don’t crate our dog and that is the way we will always do it. I know others who love to crate them that is fine. The biggest “inconvenience” for us is finding people to watch him when we go places. However, that inconvenience is so much less than the joy we get from him. I fully admit I will give up food and money to make sure he stays with us always. He is a part of our family.

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 2, 2017, 9:42 am

      We feel the same way about our pups. They certainly aren’t part of any frugal plan – but we allow ourselves the indulgence. We also rescued our two!

  • “Not puppies forver” is so so accurate. Our one puppy turned 7 in August and developed a heart condition. Until that point, she’d been a pretty low cost to us, but since then, she’s racked up a good $3500 between emergency visits, follow ups, and ongoing medications. Totally worth it, but ouch.

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 1, 2017, 2:10 pm

      Yeah, you just never know what kind of healthcare issues you’re going to run in to. We have had to shell out thousands of dollars for our one cat and another few thousand for our one dog. And that was all within a period of two years. ugh.

  • Jodi Dec 1, 2017, 11:00 am

    I feel those “unexpected” vet trips. My pooch had bloat… and then decided to wolf down some stuffy arms that almost resulted in an emergency surgery. All before he was even 1 year old! NOT CHEAP! That doesnt even include the amount I have spent on lessons/training as the boy-o is SUPER smart and wants to be challenged and learn. Right now we are in agility which we are both enjoying other than the evil teeter-totter! But I also have the best trained dog of my life and someone who is always happy when I come home

  • Jodi Ruschin Dec 1, 2017, 11:00 am

    I fell those “unexpected” vet trips. My pooch had bloat… and then decided to wolf down some stuffy arms that almost resulted in an emergency surgery. All before he was even 1 year old! NOT CHEAP! That doesnt even include the amount I have spent on lessons/training as the boy-o is SUPER smart and wants to be challenged and learn. Right now we are in agility which we are both enjoying other than the evil teeter-totter! But I also have the best trained dog of my life and someone who is always happy when I come home

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 1, 2017, 2:08 pm

      Oh no. I’m glad he was okay after his illness and ingestion incident. Our one pup decided to eat a towel last year – thankfully it didn’t get stuck – but we were anticipating surgery. You just never know.

  • Tonya@Budget and the Beach Dec 1, 2017, 10:10 am

    I’ve been giving people, especially young people who are just starting off in their career, apartment hopping, wanting to do a lot of traveling, etc., a cautionary tale about owning a pet. I do think they can bring so much joy to people, but there are a LOT of things to consider after they get out of that cut puppy/kitty phase. They should be around for a long time, and with that comes many responsibilities AND expenses. As someone who is dealing with a senior cat, I KNOW. I had to get my carpet replaced in apt last year because he started having a bladder problem and you can’t get cat pee smell out of it. And that is just the beginning… But I LOVE my kitty and will treat him like he is my child until he crosses over rainbow bridge. It’s what I signed up for. PS, I loved you podcast episode on choose FI! Fellow Gen X’er here!

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 1, 2017, 11:52 am

      Two thumbs up for Gen-X! We don’t get nearly enough attention in the media 🙂 Thanks for the kind words. I had fun on the podcast. Brad and Jonathan were great.

      I can so relate to your story. We’ve had many pets over the years but I had one cat in particular (the original Mad Money Cat) that we had to put down in 2016. When his health started to decline, it turned out to be a very expensive ordeal. We certainly don’t regret it, but our wallet is thousands of dollars lighter after it. We, too, had to replace the carpet in our home for a similar issue. We switched it out for tile (super expensive) – but highly recommended if you’re a pet lover. Thanks for stopping by, Tonya!

  • Lindsay | Notorious D.E.B.T. Dec 1, 2017, 9:02 am

    Owning a dog is TOTALLY required for us. What’s the point in life without fun pups? I agree though – it is expensive, and I haven’t really found any good ways to save money without cutting back on my dog’s quality of life. We know the ins and outs of travel hacking, and it’s usually more expensive for us to board our dog Juno than it is for us to travel!

    • Mad Money Monster Dec 1, 2017, 11:48 am

      Awe…love that name 🙂 It’s tough to cut corners on healthcare and quality food. And, pet sitting! The article didn’t mention pet sitting – but it certainly should have. Good point.

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