Around 55 percent of older Americans own a pet. With dog ownership costs averaging $1400-$4900 annually, deciding to own a dog takes some thought and budget consideration. However, it also comes with a host of benefits, particularly for seniors. Owning a dog can improve your mental health, combat the rising issue of loneliness and companionship amongst seniors, and even promote better fitness and activity levels. With so many benefits of dog ownership, there is no question of why dogs are said to be man’s best friend.

Benefits Of A Dog In A Retirement

One of the key benefits of owning a dog is the companionship it can provide. This is particularly pertinent to the senior population, who often struggle with loneliness. Over 40 percent of seniors experience loneliness regularly, which can further impact their sleeping and eating habits and even lead to increased levels of depression amongst older adults. With two in five seniors living alone, a dog can encourage you to get out regularly and meet others, reducing social isolation.

Dogs can also improve your fitness levels in your older years. Most dogs require at least 30-60 minutes of exercise daily (depending on their breed). This aligns perfectly with the recommended 30-minute daily exercise for seniors. Finally, 62 percent of seniors said that having a pet such as a dog can help them stick to a routine and provide a sense of purpose, which has been shown as key in combating senior depression rates.

Getting A Dog On A Retirement Budget

Now that you know just a few of the wonderful perks of having a dog in retirement years, its time to tackle the costs of having one starting with the costs of purchasing one. The first year of owning a dog can cost over $1,000 alone, including one-off costs like spaying or neutering a dog ($200) and dog training ($110). However, by being smart in some of your decisions you can keep those costs low.

Consider Pet Or Rescue Shelters

One of the best ways to keep your dog ownership costs down from the beginning is to adopt a dog from a pet or rescue shelter. While there will still be an adoption fee, it is minimal compared to purchase costs. Dog adoption costs on average between $118-$667. Best of all, adoption fees tend to include a physical examination, neutering, a follow-up examination and 30 days of pet insurance. If you choose to buy a dog elsewhere, the initial medical examination can cost $70 alone. In combination, you are looking at a one-off bill of over $500.

Adopt A Senior Pet Month

Another way to own a dog on a budget is to get a senior dog during November’s "Adopt A Senior Pet" event. Each year, the month is dedicated to helping older dogs find loving homes and adopting an older dog can come with its own set of unique advantages. Most senior dogs are already trained and have had their initial medical needs addressed which reduces the overall costs for you.

Also, many of these dogs are left at shelters by families or owners who can no longer afford to keep them, meaning they are already well-adjusted to family and home life. There is no house training to be done and many of them get tamer in behavior as they age. However, keep in mind that not all senior dogs are cheaper to own since some of them may come with pre-existing medical conditions.

Keeping Your Dog Ownership Costs Low

When it comes to the annual costs of owning a dog, there are several ways to keep them low and still be confident your beloved pet is getting the care they need. When it comes to choosing the best pet insurance, be sure to compare and shop around for the best quotes. Online comparison shopping is one of the must-know strategies for seniors living on a budget post-career. Some credit card lenders such as Wells Fargo also offer credit card rewards including pet insurance discounts so be sure to check your loyalty program benefits.

In addition, dog food costs normally average around $120 annually, while toys and treats can add another $55. However, by swapping brand named food for supermarket or generic brands, you can save up to 70 percent on retail price.

Dogs can make the perfect companions- and investment for your life post-retirement. With so many breeds to choose from and multiple hacks to keep the costs retirement budget-friendly, you can focus on enjoying the joy and satisfaction a dog can bring to your life and not the costs.