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It’s no secret that dogs are a man’s best friend.  Pet ownership comes with a slew of health benefits including reduced stress, lower blood pressure and of course, they force you to be active.  However, just like any other addition to the family, they can also be expensive.  Before you fall in love with one of the adorable puppies at your local shelter, you need to be financially prepared.  Here are four smart money moves to make before adopting a dog.

Find out if your place has pet restrictions

One of the most common reasons why dogs end up in shelters is because certain landlords don’t allow pets.  Before taking a trip to the shelter, read your landlord’s pet policy.  Pay special attention to the age, size, weight and breed restrictions.  You don’t want to end up in a jam because you didn’t follow the rules.  A few breeds that are commonly banned from apartments are American Pit bulls, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Many places that allow pets charge a pet deposit or pet rent.  Find out which one your landlord charges and how much it costs.

Place doesn’t allow pets?  Consider moving somewhere more pet-friendly.  Just keep in mind that the rent may be more expensive than what you’re currently paying.  Plus, you’ll need to dish out extra cash to cover your moving expenses.

Price the necessities

Adding a four-legged friend to your family is a long-term commitment.  Depending on their size, they may live approximately 15 years.  So, before you become a doggy parent, make sure you can afford it.  Research the average cost of necessities and see if it fits into your budget.  Your list must include:

  • Food
  • Medical
  • Toys/treats
  • Health insurance
  • Leash and collar
  • License
  • Dog crate or bed

You’ll also need money for the adoption fees, grooming, spaying/neutering, and training.  According to the ASPCA, owning a large dog costs $2,008.31 during the first year.  After that, you’ll pay about $1,040.31 annually.

Build a doggy fund

Some people see a cute dog and get it without fully thinking things through. For instance, let’s say you’re the type of person who loves to travel. Who’s going to watch your dog while you’re away? Taking them on a flight with you is an option but it’s not free. Many airlines charge a fee of $75 and up, each way. Plus, they have breed restrictions. If you leave your dog behind, you’ll need to pay for a pet sitter or kennel while you’re away. Depending on how long you’re gone, it can get expensive. Even if you don’t travel often, there’s always the possibility of your dog damaging your shoes and other household items which you’ll need to replace. We suggest opening a doggy fund and contributing to the account whenever you get paid. This way, you’ll be able to cover surprise expenses with ease.

Buy pet insurance

Just because your dog has a clean bill of health right now, doesn’t mean they always will.  According to Petplan, 1 in 3 pets require unexpected veterinary care every year.  If your dog gets sick or injured, you want them to get the best possible care.  By getting pet insurance, you can choose the right treatment option without worrying if you can afford it.  This is a big deal since treatment for a common illness like cancer can easily cost over $5,000.  Chances are, you don’t have that kind of cash laying around.  The best time to get coverage for your pet is when they’re young and in good health because the premium will be lower.  Compare plans and prices from multiple providers and choose the best fit.