Are You Ready to Own a Pet?

By Jennifer Noble | Nov 14, 2017

Owning a pet is a common experience for many Americans, and for many individuals and families bringing home a dog seems like a natural or even inevitable part of life. It is tempting to focus on the positive attributes of pet ownership since there are so many. However, it is also important to carefully consider the next several years of pet ownership before making a decision to bring home a dog. While dogs are great companions, they are also high maintenance and somewhat expensive compared to other pets. Before bringing one home, it is important to take note of what ownership entails.

Have You Thought Of Your Pet's Potential Needs?

While bringing home a furry friend seems like a good idea now, it is important to consider what could happen in the next several years. Most dogs live 10 to 15 years, and a lot of life transitions can happen in that time such as moving to a new home, marriage, children, or education. Also consider the lifestyle requirements needed for a dog. Dogs need regular exercise and to be taken out for bathroom breaks several times a day. If someone isn’t around during the day, hiring help may be necessary. There is also a time commitment to training new puppies that must be considered.

Have You Done Your Research on Dog Ownership?

Dogs can cost around $500 a year for regular vet visits, food, and other maintenance costs. Special accommodations like bark collars, invisible fences, or training classes you may choose to utilize should also be considered. Senior pets, or pets that encounter health issues may require additional costs such as surgeries or regular medication. Pet insurance may be a good option to look into to save on overall medical expenses without compromising on quality.

It is also important to know the needs and demands of different breeds. High energy dog breeds will need more attention. Some dog breeds may be more susceptible to different behavioral or health issues. Knowing the breed you intend to bring home is important. That includes understanding each breed’s trainability and aggression. It’s important to have a plan and expectations in place before bringing a dog home.

Have You Considered the Financial and Legal Ramifications if Your Dog Bites Someone?

No one wants to think about the worst case scenario, but it is important when it comes to making a big decision like bringing home a pet. This includes anticipating financial decisions beyond regular care and vet visits, such as what out of pocket and insurance costs you will incur if the dog bites someone.

It’s important to find out whether your renter’s or homeowner’s insurance covers costs associated with a dog bite. In 2014 530 million went toward dog related injury claims. If a dog has previously bitten someone, many insurance plans will charge a higher premium or may not include coverage for dog bites at all. This is important to consider when selecting a breed, or adopting an older pet with a challenging history. Some landlords will not allow certain breeds due to potential liability, so consider that when choosing a dog and finding a home.

Attorney Robert May says that most people don’t think about a dog bite as a major event, but then are surprised by the time and medical costs associated with properly treating a dog bite wound. When reconstructive surgery is necessary the cost, time out of work, and medical expenses become extremely high.

Final Considerations

While the statistics and potential costs associated with pet ownership can be intimidating, proper planning will go a long way toward a healthy and mutually beneficial pet ownership experience. Planning financially for pet ownership, and choosing a pet that is a good fit for your lifestyle will ensure you can fully enjoy your furry companion while giving her a long and happy life. Knowing what could happen over the course of your dog’s life will help prevent you from being blindsided by potential issues or finding yourself rehoming her because you are unable to provide for her needs.


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