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How much does it cost to adopt a dog? Dogs are so cute that sometimes new pup parents don’t think beyond the initial adoption fees. Let’s look at some of the costs and issues to consider when asking, “How much does it cost to adopt a dog?”

Why “Free Adoptions” Aren’t Truly Free

Sad dog in a cage or shelter. Photography ©anitapeeples.com | Getty Images.

Free-adoption events are great … but no dog is truly “free.” Photography ©anitapeeples.com | Getty Images.

When you think, “How much does it cost to adopt a dog?” you might immediately think of free-adoption events or Clear the Shelters-type events. These events are wonderful ways to get dogs adopted and make room for other deserving homeless pets at shelters. However, if the cost of adopting a dog is what’s stopping you from adopting a dog, it might mean you aren’t ready or able to make the financial sacrifices you’ll need in order to properly care for a dog. It’s not that adopting a dog isn’t a great thing to do — but it’s important to ensure that you’re financially ready to adopt a dog. From vet bills to food to training, caring for a dog properly isn’t cheap!

Rescuing a dog is an incredible way to add a new member to your family. Rescue dogs can also be full of surprises — and some of them are expensive. From unknown trauma to behavioral issues that will require life-long training and management, it’s important to ensure you’re financially prepared before welcoming a dog into your household.

For example, living in a high-density apartment proved too stressful for my rescue dog, and my partner and I had to sell our apartment and purchase a house for her. Although her adoption fee was only a few hundred dollars, my rescue dog is probably the most expensive dog I’ve ever shared my life with!

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog? First, the Initial Adoption Fees

The first expense that comes with adopting a dog is the adoption fee. This differs depending on a few factors like where you live, if you are adopting through a city shelter or if you’re adopting through a private rescue organization. Adoption fees can be free, relatively low or up to several hundred dollars. Many shelters and rescue groups charge steeper adoption fees for puppies, as well as for purebred dogs and small dogs.

Adoption fees might seem steep, but they are very little when compared to how much the shelter or rescue has paid to care for the dog you are adopting. Rescues and shelter organizations must provide food and veterinary care, as well as training and sometimes rehabilitation for dogs and puppies before they are adopted. The adoption fee usually also covers spaying or neutering the dog. Adoption fees also ensure that people adopting dogs are ready and able to take dog care seriously.

Vet Bills

Do you have an emergency vet on call if your dog has an accident?

Vet bills for dogs can add up. Photography by Fly_dragonfly/Thinkstock.

Another major cost to consider when thinking, “How much does it cost to adopt a dog?” Vet bills!

“Adoption fees themselves can range anywhere from $50 to $250, but that is not the only cost to consider when adopting a new dog,” explains Jordan Holliday, Brand Marketing Specialist with Embrace Pet Insurance. “The first thing that new pet parents should do when they adopt a new dog, is schedule a trip to the veterinarian to ensure their new pet is healthy. Their first vet visit may be up to $300 if the new pup needs ‘the works.’”

Vet bills are an ongoing expense for your new dog and you’ll likely make frequent vet visits if the dog that you adopt is young. “Pet parents that have adopted a puppy can plan on visiting the vet every few weeks until the puppy is about 16 weeks of age, which can add up quickly, and these are just the initial costs,” Jordan says. “The first year of dog ownership can be $1,000 or more, depending on the dog’s specific needs and size.”

You’ll also want to plan for the unexpected — surgeries for knee injuries (common in large active dogs) can easily be over $5,000, not to mention any hospitalization, or other major illnesses.

Pet Insurance

Expensive vet visits and unexpected vet bills are reasons why new dog parents may want to look into pet insurance plans. “Embrace policyholders can choose any vet in the country to take their new dog to, and Embrace will reimburse for any illness exam fees, prescription drugs, diagnostic testing, hospitalizations, surgeries and more,” Jordan advises.

Ultimately, research different pet insurance companies to see if one is the right fit for you. Some pet insurance plans don’t cover dogs who have existing medical conditions, or dogs who you intend to train in sports like agility. Read the details of any pet health insurance plan before buying into it to ensure it is a good fit for your new dog, and will offer you the best amount of coverage. Pet health insurance plans work similar to human health insurance. You pay a small monthly premium in exchange for being able to have larger bills covered by the insurance.

Thumbnail: Photography by wavebreakmedia / Shutterstock.

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Mubashir Ali

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