A lot of people want to own a dog. This is completely understandable; they make great companions and generally end up changing the lives of those that adopt one. However, it can be difficult to work out whether or not you can afford one.

How do you budget for something you have no experience of? You can make a guess, but often there will be some hidden expense that you haven't planned for. This can end up decreasing your monthly finances below what you are comfortable with.

Now, none of this is meant to discourage you from getting a dog. There are a huge range of advantages to adopting a canine pal and most people who choose to take one home would say it is one of the best decisions they've ever made.

However, you should always make sure you are able to pay for it first. Otherwise, you might end up impacting on its quality of life, as well as your own.

Food

The first thing you need to budget for is food for your dog. This is obviously the most vital aspect of dog care. It is thought that food will cost you around £300 to £450 each year. However, you might want to spend a little bit more in order to give your dog premium dog food.

This may seem counterintuitive, but it is actually a solid decision. Think of it as investing in your dog's future. By feeding your dog premium, nutritionally balanced meals you will ensure they remain healthy well into their old age, improving their quality of life and reducing the amount you will end up needing to spend on vet's bills.

Of course, this figure only applies to the basic meals your dog eats each day. Remember that if you want to train your dog at all, you will need to invest in some treats for them as well. Without these as a reward, you will struggle to teach your pet anything useful. These can end up adding over £100 to your annual pet costs, so don't discount them!

Exercise

Your dog will need to go for regular walks in order to be healthy, fulfilled and well-behaved. If you have plenty of time, this will not be a major cost - all you will need is a leash and a few toys to play with - but if you aren't going to be able to walk your dog whenever necessary you will find it becomes more expensive.

Paying for a dog walker can easily set you back £15 or £20 a day. If you have to hire one for the five days a week you are working, for example, it will end up costing you up to £5,200 a year. This is a clear sign that you shouldn't adopt a dog unless you have plenty of free time to spend with it.

Medical costs

No dog owner is going to be able to avoid vet's bills completely. Your dog will need vaccinating, and potentially neutering or spaying as well. It is likely that your pet will become ill or injured at some point in its life as well, which can be costly even if it is something minor.

On average, it costs between £150 and £200 a year to pay for vet's bills for a pet dog. However, this does not take into account sudden surprise injuries or serious illnesses. What if your dog gets hit by a car, for example? Or there is a complication with a routine procedure like neutering, and it ends up costing twice what you'd budgeted for?

It is usually a good idea to take out pet insurance to make sure you are covered in these situations. This can cost between £150 and £300 a year, potentially more, but it will be worth it if you avoid having to pay out thousands for a long-term condition such as diabetes. Again, it is also worth investing in a high-quality diet for your dog to avoid unnecessary health problems.

Holidays

Going away on a much-needed holiday can also end up costing an arm and a leg if you have a dog. You have two choices: take your pet with you, or pay somebody to look after them. Either way, you can end up being left out of pocket.

Kennels can easily end up costing you over £100 a year, so they are rarely a cost-effective option. However, taking your pet on holiday can be difficult, and 'dog-friendly' hotels and other accommodation often charge extra for allowing your pooch to stay with you.

The budget-friendly option is to find a friend or relative that is willing to look after your pet while you are away. You don't want to be a burden, so make sure you choose someone that will enjoy taking care of your pet while you're away. You should also get them something to say thank you when you get home.

Overall

With all these costs, it is completely feasible to see a dog costing you over £1,000 per year. When you factor in how long your dog will live, you could end up spending £10,000, £15,000 or even more on your new pet.

However, many people would say that this is 100 per cent worth it. If you can afford the cost of a dog, you will find it makes an excellent addition to your family and you will not regret your decision.

Written by: Hannah