Your Money: The hidden costs of puppy love
Caring for a dog can cost you €10,000 over its lifetime - so think carefully
Last year 11,774 dogs were "surrendered, seized or abandoned" in Ireland says Dogs Trust's Ciara Byrne. While many are re-homed, some are inevitably destroyed which is sad and unnecessary. While there's a spike just after Christmas, it remains a year-round problem. This week, I'm looking at what's involved in pet ownership, the costs, along with insurance (see panel).
A dog may become a precious part of your family, but it's not without hard work, time and money.
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"It costs around €10,000 to own a dog over its lifetime," says Ciara. "Some people realise very quickly they don't have enough time to look after it, it's too big or isn't behaving well." So, what do you need to know before taking the all important step?
While kids love 'toy' breeds like fluffy Pomeranians or Shih Tzus, purebreds can come with double the cost and problems of other dogs.
You have to be very careful if you're buying one that it comes from a reputable dealer registered with the Kennel Club (see www.ikc.ie for details). Owners get a pedigree breeder's certificate and a full genetic history for three generations.
Never buy from a non-registered breeder; they may be running an illegal puppy farm.
A big, energetic dog needs lots of space, and exercise and owners need to commit to their fitness. Terriers can be territorial and annoy small children.
However, even a huge dog like a greyhound can be very passive, great with children and just want to curl up on the sofa, so get advice from a vet before choosing.
Dogs Trust say it takes around eight days to complete an adoption. They take your details and advise on the right dog for you. Everyone should go along so the dog can be chosen to suit the whole family.
The fee for re-homing a dog is €160, but each one is vet checked, micro-chipped, neutered and given a cool Dogs Trust lead and collar which is great value. They also provide six weeks' free insurance from their partner, Allianz Pet Insurance, and you'll get lots of advice about dog ownership.
Your living arrangements are important. If you're out at work all day, who will look after the dog? Take family lifestyle into account. Observe how the dog interacts with other people.
If you have small children particularly, a dog will need to be very tolerant because behavioural problems may mean it's not suitable. Find a vet. Ask him/her what it will cost for annual vaccinations, medication and check-ups?
Owners must have a dog licence (€20 a year from An Post, or €140 for a lifetime) and dogs must be pet micro-chipped and registered (lots of people forget) with a State database like Fido.ie (this should be done before the dog is adopted or bought).
If the dog is lost, there's no point in having the chip if there are no owner details to return it to.
Micro-chipping depends on breed but you can expect to pay €20 to €50 with an additional fee for the certificate.
Spaying or neutering is advised and vaccination against common conditions like Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus and Kennel Cough is essential.
Kennelling services will insist on it before you can leave your pet for holidays as will insurance providers.
Bedding, food, toys and other costs will depend on the breed size. A better diet leads to better health so don't skimp on cheap food; you wouldn't with your children, after all.
Expect to pay €400 to €1,000 per year for the basics, while a kennel will typcially cost around €20 a day.