If you have decided to give a dog a second chance by rescuing them from a dog shelter or rescue group, good for you! Not only can you feel great about the choice you made to save a life, your new family member knows you gave them a second chance.
It is tempting to rush to the store and fill the cart with every new toy you can find to make sure that your new dog feels welcome and loved. Hey, if you have an unlimited budget, go for it!
However, for many of us, a new pet can be a little more expensive than we had anticipated. In order to be sure you have the finances for the initial and ongoing costs associated with dog ownership, you may want to be conservative on that initial spending spree.
Here are some tips to help you make sure that your new dog won’t end up costing more than you can afford:
Consider crate training your dog as soon as you bring them home. If using a crate is the new “normal,” your dog is likely to quickly adjust to using a crate. This means you can leave them home alone while you go to work, right from the start.
A crate not only provides your dog with a space that feels safe to call their own, it will also keep them from getting into trouble chewing on furniture, drywall or getting into other dangers while they adjust to their new surroundings. It also keeps you from having to replace furniture or other items – a completely unnecessary expense of dog ownership.
You can get a used crate pretty cheaply online if a new one is out of your price range. Just make sure to take it outside and thoroughly clean it with 1/10 bleach/water solution to disinfect before use. Fill it with clean, soft stuff like old towels and blankets for a welcoming and safe cubby hole your new dog will appreciate.
Affordable Food – Not Cheap Food
There is a difference between quality dog food at a decent price, and cheap dog food that is of very low quality. It is important to be able to tell the difference since saving a few bucks a month now is not worth the long term medical costs of poor nutrition.
There are a few things to look for to make sure the diet you will feed your dog is both in your price range, and good for them:
Real meat (not meat or poultry by-product) is the first ingredient
Try to avoid corn, soy, or wheat as top ingredients
Look for the AAFCO seal of approval for nutritionally balanced food
Look for manufacturing in the USA, and evidence of responsible ingredient sourcing
It is important that your new addition to the home has some toys to call their own. However, you do not need to break the bank with the top of the line gear right away. Instead, get a sense for what kinds of things your new buddy is into with some cheaper versions or DIY toys, and save your investment for primo gear once you really know what they love.
Here are some tips on some toys your dog doesn’t even know are free:
Blue jean leg cut lengthwise and tied in 2 knots for a great tug toy.
Tennis balls are free if you find them discarded at the tennis courts. Your dog does not care if they are flat.
Large plastic bottle with some holes cut in it just bigger than their kibble for a fun food dispenser.
Sticks. Before there were dog toy stores, dogs apparently loved these things!
Pupsicle. Get a stainless-steel bowl, fill half with water, freeze, layer some treats or kibble, add more water and freeze again. Layer as many times as you want for a great outside hydrating and cooling edible toy for a hot day.
Responsible pet ownership does require vaccines, spay/neuter and annual wellness visits. Fortunately, if you rescued your dog from a shelter or volunteer rescue groups, it is likely that they may offer some vouchers or special programs to help make these costs more affordable.
Make sure to talk to the people where you rescued your dog from to let you know about financial help they can offer on the necessary costs of health for your pet. They are likely also “in the loop” about special low-income vet programs that may be operating in your area.
If you are not quite sure if you can afford responsible pet ownership yet, you should consider researching the foster groups in your area. In many cases, these foster organizations are willing to pay for things like veterinary care, pet sitting, bedding and in some cases even the food for the foster dogs in their program.
This is a way to get involved in helping a dog find their second chance in life, without taking on more financial responsibility than you can handle. If you have a stable home that allows pets, and a schedule that will give them the time and love they deserve, fostering may be a great choice for you!