There are those who believe that a dog can cure all ills –a solution to emotional upheavals and breakdowns as well as a buffer against loneliness.

A dog cannot be a miracle cure for life’s challenges. It would mean that a dog enters your life with an unbearable, heavy burden of responsibility on his shoulders.

In fact, emotional benefits of owning a dog start from the opposite direction. Only people who appreciate and love domestic animals and are willing and able to invest the time and also money required to keep a dog healthy and happy, are likely to reap the benefits.

If you’re not an animal person, getting a dog will not improve your life, nor will it bring your health benefits. There are those who decide to take in a cat instead of a dog, believing they will be less trouble and can still bring rewards.

It’s vital that you realize fully what it means to care for a dog. This is true even for dog lovers. Dog ownership is a lifetime commitment – the animal’s lifetime for sure, which can be 10 – 15 years, at the end of which you’re likely to face the grief that comes with losing a loved one.

Things to Consider Before Making a Decision

  • Dogs need lots of time, care, and attention. A dog needs mental stimulation and daily exercise in order to remain calm and well-balanced.
  • Dogs often destroy stuff. At various points in its development, a dog can have an accident at home, particularly when ill or after having been alone for too long. Some dogs destroy furniture and chew up books or shoes, etc. Regular exercise and proper training can help and even eradicate destructive behavior, but dogs who are left for long periods of time, will often relapse into negative behaviors.
  • Dogs require a responsible owner. Regardless of breed and size, dogs can inflict injury and damage on others, if their owner does not handle them responsibly. A dog owner needs to be constantly aware of potential risk, especially where children are concerned.
  • Having a dog can impinge on your social life. There is a limit to how long you can leave your dog at home alone. You can train him to accompany you to various outings, but you’ll not be able to pick up and leave for the weekend on the spur of the moment, without making proper arrangements.
  • Dogs can be a health risk for certain people. To those who are allergy-prone, dogs can be a health risk. In cases where you or a family member has been diagnosed with a pet allergy, consider carefully if symptoms are severe enough for you to rethink dog ownership. Even if you decide to stick to your plan of getting a dog, be aware that perhaps allergic relatives or friends might not be able to visit your home.

Costs Might Affect Your Decision – Can You Really Afford a Dog?

It’s vital that you realize that dog ownership costs money, in fact, owning is at times pretty expensive.

First of all, if you decide to buy a dog, then there’s the purchase price. When adopting from a dog shelter or a rescue group, the price in the US can range anywhere between $70-$300 depending on age. Purchasing a puppy from a breeder can be as high as a few thousand dollars.

Beyond the buying process there are numerous additional costs for raising a healthy, happy dog

  • Routine needs: According to the ASCPA it costs $50-$70 per month ($580-$875 per year) to care for your dog’s routine needs. If you happen to be retired or unemployed, this might me a prohibitive expense.
  • Health, dietary, and daily needs: Neutering/spaying of a puppy and vaccinations are essential. Some rescue groups and shelters include this in the adoption fee. However, adult dogs generally require tick and flee prevention treatments on a monthly basis, in addition to vaccination boosters. Add to these, food bills, bedding and the cost of a crate, water and food bowls, a collar and leash, grooming expenses, licensing, treats and toys, boarding or pet-sitting costs, and your expenses quickly add up.
  • If your dog is sick vet bills and medications can be costly. Some breeds are known to be prone to certain health problems. Not ot mention that any dog can require emergency care after an illness or injury.

Soon after you bring a dog home, it’s likely to become a cherished family member and companion. You will want the best for him and will invest whatever is necessary to feed and protect your dog and nurse him back to health. Once committed most people will even go into debt to do so.

Feature image: Flickr Credit

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