Can You Afford a Free Puppy?

We’ve all been suckered by notices of free puppies in the newspaper, but add popular internet sites and suddenly they’re everywhere – local online lists, even friend’s status updates on facebook. As tempting as that sweet, furry face may be, can you afford a free puppy?

When free isn’t free
A free dog may sound like a great deal, but the initial investment is by far the cheapest part of being a pet parent. Before you can even bring the new baby home, you have to have food, toys, and a cage or kennel or other way to contain him. Even if you don’t intend to crate train your puppy, sometimes he’ll need to be confined to smaller spaces so that he doesn’t soil your new carpet or chew the furniture when left unattended. Collar and leash are a must, and don’t forget nail clippers and brush. It doesn’t take long for the phrase free puppy to have a string of dollar signs after it.

Doctor, doctor, gimme the news
You’ll want to make sure that your new puppy is in the best of health and that means a number of visits to your veterinarian for immunizations and routine check-ups, and of course spay or neutering. My own ‘almost free’ dog cost me a pretty penny the first few months of his life; Jethro’s adult teeth were coming in but didn’t push out his puppy teeth, so four tooth extractions were added to the bill when I brought him in to be neutered. A short time later he had an abnormal growth on his toe that required surgical removal, which then led to a nervous condition and skin ailment that meant a round of expensive medications to clear it up. Jethro is fine now almost two years later, but those unexpected expenses hurt my pocketbook. During this same period, I noticed my other dog with a limp that wasn’t going away. An examination of $200 worth of x-rays revealed that Molly had a severe case of hip dysplasia, a condition not uncommon to each of the breeds in her genetic makeup.

Shave and a haircut = more than two bits

Some dogs can get by with an occasionally brushing, but many breeds require routine grooming by a professional. You can learn to do a decent job yourself to save money, but there’s still the initial cost of the clippers, and it will be easier to maintain if he gets a salon styling first. If you can’t manage to clip your dog’s nails yourself, you’ll have to pay to have that done regularly too.

Can’t put a price on puppy love

I love my pups to pieces and do my best to keep them as happy and healthy as possible, regardless of cost. A puppy can be a wonderful addition to your family — just make sure you understand the cost of free before agreeing to what should be a lifelong commitment.

More from Marie Anne:
Grooming and Hygiene are Important to Your Dog’s Health
Dog and Cat Oral and Dental Health
Is Natural Dog Food Best for My Dog?

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