3 Steps for Incorporating a Puppy Into Your Budget

How to feed your 4lb bundle of joy (and yourself).

I currently have the tiniest, 4lb bundle of French bulldog joy snoozing on my lap. Drew and I just got a new pupper, and although I’ve grown quite fond of him in the week since we picked him up, my bank account is already screaming.

I did a lot of planning beforehand to make sure we could actually afford the dog. We can, but it certainly is an adjustment. Dog-related expenses are necessary, unlike the budgeted-for “fun” expenses that can be cut out of my budget when times get tough. Dog-related expenses can’t be ignored or pushed back. You can’t just say “eh, guess I’ll wait until next week’s paycheck to feed him.”

I’ve literally never had this type of responsibility before. I have had bills, of course, and things I needed to pay at a certain time for certain important reasons, but there was never a life depending on my ability to buy the thing. But if mama doesn’t put kibble in that boy’s bowl, no one else will – so I had to be super careful to make sure dog-ownership was within my budget before signing on for it.

I made a budget beforehand that included my current expenses and my projected expenses as a dog owner and realized that Drew and I could definitely make it work. However, keeping within that budget, I’ve found a lot of ways already to cut costs and make sure I’m taking the best care of my pup for the least amount of money. Here are the three ways I’m seamlessly incorporating dog-expenses into my budget.

1. Shopping smart.

It is easy to go to a pet store to buy things because they’re pretty much guaranteed to have exactly what you’re looking for. However, I haven’t bought a damn thing for my boy yet from a pet store because they are ridiculously overpriced. All of his gear (bed, food and water dishes, a playpen, and a few toys) was purchased at either Marshalls in the pet section, or ordered from Amazon. The TJMaxx/Marshalls/Home Goods stores all carry a shit ton of adorable puppy merchandise for super cheap. I got his food/water bowls for $2 each, and beds are only around the $10 mark.

For playpens, I went to Amazon, where I was able to find this one for $35 as opposed to the identical ones I found at pet stores for $60 or more. I also bought a box of over 1,000 dog poop bags for $15, which is how much it costs to get 100 at a store.

As for food, appreciate the heck out of Chewy.com. My family has been ordering food from them for our dogs for a while now, and their prices are excellent (they offer discounts if you have the food auto-shipped!) and the service is unbeatable. I literally received a handwritten card from them at Christmastime after ordering food for my family’s dogs from them.

Dog supplies can be hella expensive, but if you know where to buy them, you can get them at bargain prices.

2. Getting pet health insurance.

The most important thing I’ve learned about dogs in my 20 years as a dog-owner is that they make mistakes that often result in injury/illness.

My childhood dog Cleo thought it would be fun to step out of the back door of our house while there were no steps because our deck was under construction, and she literally broke her leg and had to wear a cast.

My new pupper carefully climbed up six stairs this morning, then promptly fell after just reaching the top, rolling headfirst down every single step to the bottom.

Dogs also get sick just like humans, often with more disgusting illnesses because they love eating feces.

What I’m trying to say here is, things will happen to your dog, and you shouldn’t live on a prayer hoping that yours will be the only dog to not somehow find a bar of chocolate and nearly die devouring it, or leap off a deck and break its paw. The good news is that pet insurance is nothing like human insurance, so it is cheap (about $20/month from what we’ve found) and your dog won’t be denied for its pre-existing condition of “Loves To Eat Worm-Infested Poopy.”

3. Hardcore puppy-proofing.

Dogs are clumsy and silly for sure, but they also take active pleasure in destroying things that you love. They know exactly where you keep your favorite pair of shoes, and they won’t stop until they’ve chewed through the heel. Forget keeping anything with rope/string/tassels anywhere in your home. Food always needs to be hidden/unreachable. Wee-wee pads must cover your prized Persian rugs, lest they get covered in dog urine.

Puppies love to destroy. They have little bladders that can’t hold anything, and sharp baby teeth that lust after anything remotely chewable.

My little guy has taken to chewing electrical cords, which is a) dangerous as hell and b) could cost me a lot of money if he ruins himself or any important electronics.

My older dog Lilo chewed through my $80 MacBook charger one day ~for fun~ and I nearly cried when I found it.

Puppy proofing your home one time is the best way to keep it safe for your ugly-child and prevent them from ruining anything you hold near and dear (or spent a lot of your hard-earned cash on).

Drew and I move into a new place next week, and our first order of business before even letting Gaston out of his playpen for the first time will be puppy-proofing the hell out of that apartment so he can’t get to anything he is capable of ruining.

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