National Dog Day 2015: How to Adopt a Dog on a Budget

National Dog Day 2015

National Dog Day 2015 is held Wednesday, Aug. 26, and it’s a day to celebrate everyone’s best friends, loyal companions and lovable protectors.

National Dog Day was founded 11 years ago to bring awareness to the staggering amount of abandonment and abuse in the canine community. While 70 million to 80 million dogs in the United States have a home, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 4 million homeless dogs enter a shelter each year. And, up to 1.2 million of them are euthanized when they can’t be placed in a loving home.

The ASPCA notes that about 35 percent of shelter dogs are adopted each year. While adopting a dog can help reduce these numbers and add a new member to your family, many people forget that it isn’t free or even cheap to adopt and own a dog. To mark National Dog Day 2015, follow these steps to adopt a dog without hurting your wallet.

Related: 6 Tax Breaks for Pet Owners

Happy National Dog Day 2015: Where to Adopt a Dog

Buying a dog that’s for sale at a pet store or breeder gives a dog a new home, but it doesn’t lessen the burden of animals in need at shelters. Besides, pet stores might not only mark up their prices, but many of their dogs are sourced from irresponsible breeders and puppy mills, notes the American Humane Association.

If you’re interested in adding a furry member to your family, save a dog by adopting one. Your local animal shelter is the best place to adopt a dog in need. Check in-person or online with your local ASPCA, AdoptAPet.com, PetFinder.com and RescueMe.org to start.

Read: ‘Boomerang Pets’ Are Taking a Bite Out of Seniors’ Savings

How to Adopt a Dog for National Dog Day: Create a Budget

Before starting your search for a new dog to join your family, start preparing a budget to anticipate expenses of owning a pet. This year, it is estimated that Americans will spend $60.59 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. And when adoption time comes, there are upfront costs to consider as well as long-term costs.

Adoption Fees

According to The Humane Society, puppy adoption fees are usually $280 with a $50 refund upon his or her completion of puppy class. To cut costs, consider adopting an adult dog — their average adoption fees run from $40 to $130, depending on their size, breed, age and other factors.

Although it might seem like you’re shelling out a lot of dough to adopt a dog, these adoption fees will most likely help you save money overall. For example, these fees can include a veterinary wellness visit and exam ($50 to $100), spraying or neutering ($150-$300), rabies vaccination ($15-$25), a microchip ($50) and more, according to PetFinder.com. The total cost of these individual fees could come out to more than $800, making a $280 adoption fee seem small in comparison.

Veterinary and Health Care

You have health insurance, so shouldn’t your pets be covered as well? According to the ASPCA, the average dog owner will see an annual cost of about $225 for pet insurance.  Look for a policy that offers coverage for both routine and emergency care. An emergency can cost you up to $5,000 if your dog requires surgery, reports Kiplinger.

Food

Another impact to a family’s budget is the cost of feeding and keeping a new pet. Dog food can cost as little as $55 per year for small dogs and $235 for large dogs, according to the ASPCA. But don’t let that be the deciding factor between choosing a Chihuahua or a Great Dane. You might be able to opt for generic pet food, but consult with your veterinarian first — your dog’s needs (and taste buds) might control what kind of food you can and can’t buy.

Supplies and Toys

Between bedding, toys, collars and leashes, dog owners can expect to spend a good amount on miscellaneous items for their adopted dogs. But shopping around for discounts can help you save money on pet supplies. Licensing fees might also require a small payment. And if you’re renting an apartment, you should remember that you might incur apartment registration fees or increased monthly rent. Check with your landlord or property manager.

These are just some of the introductory costs associated with adopting a new dog. The ASPCA estimates that the first year of ownership can cost between $1,314 and $1,843. If expenses are pinching your budget, financial solutions are available. For example, see if you can apply for nonprofit veterinary care aid or negotiating with your dog’s vet on pricing.

Keep reading: 20 Pets That Make Millions for Their Owners

So for National Dog Day, consider adopting a dog. Not only will you take your new pet out of a shelter and give it a new home, but you’ll save money up front, ensuring you and your new best friend enjoy a lifetime of happiness together.