When we talk about the financial side of dog ownership we usually focus on the costs and on how expensive it can be to own a dog. As a financial planner, I often advise my clients to make sure they are financially prepared for the realities of dog ownership.
Focusing only on the costs, though, can be a bit of a downer. Yes, owning a dog is a big decision that comes with financial responsibilities, but most dog owners would argue that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Dogs improve our lives in so many ways, from our happiness to our health – is it possible that having a dog can actually benefit your wallet, too?
The True Cost of Owning a Dog
Vet bills can be one of the most expensive parts of owning a dog.
In a previous article, I broke down the true cost of dog ownership. Most people grossly underestimate how much it costs to have a dog, and the reality can be staggering. Food alone can easily cost hundreds of dollars per year, and that doesn’t include treats! You can expect routine vet costs to run you at least $250 per year, and you’ll need to be prepared for at least one $2,000 emergency during your dog’s lifetime.
When we add it all up, it can cost more than $1,000 per year to keep your dog happy and healthy. Although this number can be shocking, and it’s important to plan ahead for expenses and emergencies, there’s one part of the equation that’s often overlooked – how much money owning a dog can save us in other areas of our life over the long run.
How Owning a Dog Can Actually Save You Money
Most dog owners couldn’t put a price on their best furry friend
Although dog-related costs can be steep, there are many benefits to owning a dog that can have surprising financial benefits in other areas of your life. Read on to learn about the ways that your furry friend is benefiting your wallet, and keep these things in mind the next time you’re faced with an unexpected vet bill or are stocking up on brand-name dog food.
Dogs encourage us to spend more time being active outdoors.
Numerous studies have shown that owning a dog is good for your health. Making sure Fido gets his daily walk keeps you active, warding off cardiovascular disease and helping with weight management. Spending time exercising, especially outdoors, reduces stress and benefits your mental health.
Speaking of mental health, the companionship and affection we get from our dogs helps with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. Dogs even boost our immunity, which means we get sick less often.
All of these benefits add up to few doctor’s visits, less prescription medication and more money in your pocket. Let your dog inspire you to improve your health. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your furry best friend! Keeping them healthy means lower vet costs, too.
Boost Your Health Savings
- Make it a priority to spend time being active together, especially outside. Daily walks, games of fetch and obedience training sessions are great ways to enjoy outdoor time together.
- Practice mindfulness with your dog. Learning to be in the moment and present when you are playing and interacting with your dog will help you learn to be more mindful in other areas of your life, along with improving your mood.
Entertaining with our dogs can be a great way to save money.\
Entertainment can be one of the easiest ways to overspend. Between eating out, social events and at home entertainment, we spend a lot of our time and money on entertainment.
Focusing on including your dog in your downtime can help reduce some of the entertainment costs in your budget. By including your dog in your recreational activities, you’ll be limiting the things you can do and places you can go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to relax and unwind together. Many of the entertainment options for you and your dog will save you money, too.
Instead of going out to eat or catching a movie at the theatre, pack a picnic and take your dog on a hike or to the park. Check out a local movie in the park, or snuggle up at home together and watch an old movie. Explore local events and festivals in your city, and check out a few outdoor, dog-friendly activities. Many of these events are free!
Instead of sitting on the couch watching Netflix, get outside and explore with your dog. Take time getting to know your town or city together, checking out the different neighbourhoods, parks, trails, and beaches. And, as we just covered above, the added physical activity will also contribute to lower health care costs for you and your dog!
Travel can be a huge entertainment expense for many families. By making sure you can include your dog in your travels, you’ll be able to cut out many of the major travel costs and find less expensive adventures closer to home. Instead of flying to remote locations, pack up the car and take a road trip. Consider camping or homesharing instead of hotels, which often charge extra for dogs.
Including your dog in travel plans can be an inexpensive way to take a trip.
Boost Your Entertainment Savings
- Prioritize time with your dog; look for activities and locations that are dog-friendly (and often free!).
- Instead of eating out, pack a picnic and explore your area with your dog.
- Travel closer to home, and consider driving and camping instead of flying and hotels.
Including your dog in your social life can be good for your wallet.
Our social lives often end up costing us a lot more than we expect! Between all the wedding and shower gifts, dinners and parties, the cost of socializing can quickly add up.
Making our dogs a mainstay of our social lives can have incredible financial benefits. Although you can’t get out of going to your cousin’s wedding if she won’t let you bring your dog, you can use your dog to help expand your social life without spending a lot of money.
Whenever possible, try to include your dog in your social activities, and encourage your friends and families to bring their own dogs along. Including your dogs will mean rethinking your choice of activities. Consider hosting a backyard BBQ for family and friends instead of going out to eat at a restaurant. Meet up with a friend to walk your dogs instead of grabbing a coffee at a cafe.
Your dog can also help you meet new people and expand your social circle. According to Harvard University, dogs can help their owners create friendships and find social support.
It’s easiest to make new friends when you have something in common, and being dog lovers can be that first step towards lasting friendship. Taking your dog to dog parks and other popular pet spots is a great, free way to meet other animal lovers. Obedience or agility classes is a great way to meet other like-minded dog owners, as well as volunteering at animal shelters, charities or nursing homes.
Boost Social Savings
- Make your dog a part of your crew, and focus on activities and locations that are open to dogs. Plan doggy play-dates outdoors, home-cooked meals with friends and other free or low-cost activities.
- Meet other dog owners. Check out dog parks, volunteer at animal shelters, nursing homes and hospitals with your dog.
- Involve your kids to teach them responsibility.
- Give the gift of help; offer dog-sitting or walking services for friends and family instead of giving physical gifts.
Dogs can provide built-in security.
Another way your dog can save you money? Built-in security! In recent years, sales of home security systems have skyrocketed, and the systems keep getting more and more sophisticated. If you’re concerned that you’re behind the pack when it comes to home security, think again before buying in. Perhaps your dog can be your security system!
Hearing a dog bark is a bigger deterrent than security cameras or signs. Even if your dog is not aggressive, teaching them to bark on command, or “speak”, can help you feel more safe at home without shelling out big bucks for a security system.
Dogs can act as an on-the-go security team, too. Having your dog with you will make you more comfortable walking or running around your city or trails alone, especially at night. This could lead you to driving less, saving money on gas while improving your health! Having a dog by your side in the bush can be a deterrent to large animals nearby.
Boost Security Savings
- Teach your dog to “speak” on command to warn off would-be intruders.
- Take your dog with you when walking at night or in secluded areas.
- Post a “Beware of Dog” sign on your home.
You and your dog can work together to earn extra money.
Finally, having a dog can actually provide some opportunities to make money. If you enjoy spending time outdoors and walking with your dog, consider starting a dog-sitting or dog-walking business. Companies like Rover or WagWalk make it easy to connect with other dog owners in your area.
In the digital age, it’s easy to create a blog, YouTube channel or Instagram account to share your dog’s unique personality with the world, which you can then monetize to provide some extra income.
Volunteering and donating your time and money to animal charities can provide tax deductions. If your dog qualifies as a companion or support animal, there are associated tax deductions to help with the costs.
Boost Financial Savings
- Turn time with your dog into money-making opportunities.
- Start a dog-sitting or dog-walking business to spend more time with other dogs
- Get creative with online and social media strategies to showcase your dog’s unique personality.
How Our Dogs Save Us Money
Dogs don’t have to break the bank.
As you can see, there are countless ways that your dog can help you to save money.
Owning a dog makes us healthier, encouraging us to be more active and spend more time outdoors. This leads to better physical and mental health, and few doctor’s visits (and vet bills!).
Including our dogs in our entertainment and social lives means changing the way we spend some of this time, but less eating out and more time at home and outdoors can be great for your wallet, and your health. Dogs can also help us connect to others and expand our social circle.
Dogs can also help us feel more secure at home and when we’re out and about, which could mean spending less on security systems, apps and other things that make us feel safer.
Finally, dogs can actually help us make money! From dog walking to Instagram stars, if you’re passionate about spending time with dogs, there are countless ways to turn your passion into a legitimate business.
The fact is, most of us wouldn’t put a price on the love we have for our dogs, and I’m sure many of us would pay the costs 10 times over for them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also benefit from owning a dog. By prioritizing being active and healthy together, and building a lifestyle around activities and locations that are dog-friendly and consequently less expensive, your furry friend can help your wallet in countless ways.
Jen Jones is a professional dog trainer and behavior specialist with more than 25 years of experience. As the founder of ‘Your Dog Advisor’ and the ‘Canine Connection’ rehabilitation center, she applies a holistic, empathetic approach, aiming to address root causes rather than merely treating symptoms.
Well known for her intuitive and compassionate approach, Jen adopts scientifically-proven, reward-based methods, encouraging positive reinforcement over punishment. Jen specializes in obedience training, behavior modification, and puppy socialization. Her innovative methods, particularly in addressing anxiety and aggression issues, have been widely recognized. Jen has worked with many of the world’s leading dog behaviorists and in her free time volunteers with local animal shelters and rescue groups.