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Dogs by the dollars: Here's the cost of owning a canine
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Dogs by the dollars: Here's the cost of owning a canine

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While most dog owners don’t consider their canine relationships from a dollars-and-cents angle, Rover.com has come up with some figures.

Initial cost of getting a dog ranges from $610 to $2,350, including everything from adoption fees or price from a breeder to spay/neuter surgery to food, treats, toys and more. The start-up costs can be even more if you’re buying a pricey breed.

Annual costs can average from $650 to $2,295 a year, with the most budget-minded pet parents spending less than $1,000 per year. However, the company’s recent survey of dog owners found that nearly half of pet parents spend far more than the average, with 47% claiming to spend about $3,400 on their dogs every year. On the other hand, 32% say they budget $100 or less monthly for their dog’s expenses.

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Demographic data show that dog owners are more likely to be married, which has been linked to better health. They’re more likely to have the physical space for a dog, which means they might have a higher income level. But even after adjusting for those and other confounding factors, evidence of a benefit appears to remain in the data, says Kazi. “After reviewing the literature, it’s my conclusion that there is very likely some effect from having a dog,” he says.

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“Another big part of the benefit of dog ownership is probably its effect on mental health,” says Kazi. People who own dogs forge a connection with their pets, which could make them feel happier. This effect may be greater for people who live alone, who may be at higher risk for anxiety and depression. “It’s likely that there is also a strong mental health benefit that may translate into better cardiovascular health and survival,” says Kazi.

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Two additions to this collection of evidence come from two articles published in the October 2019 issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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Stress is another known risk factor for heart disease. A 2001 study found that pet ownership in conjunction with treatment with an ACE inhibitor did more to reduce stress-related blood pressure spikes than ACE inhibitor treatment alone. A 2007 study found that in people hospitalized for advanced heart failure, blood pressure and levels of certain stress hormones dropped after a 12-minute visit from a therapy dog.

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Can cat lovers get the same benefits? “The available evidence is almost entirely about dogs,” Kazi says. There may be some mental health benefits from cat ownership. But you’re not getting the same physical benefit of exercising. Until there are more studies, it’s hard to extrapolate these findings to other pets, he says.

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