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Credit Killers: What You Don’t Know Can Bite Back

Can a dog ruin your credit score? You’d be shocked!

Whether you buy a pedigree dog from a breeder or adopt a shelter dog, that initial $100 or $200 or more is a drop in the bucket compared to what you can expect to spend over the lifetime of your pet. Not only does this leave your scrambling to find extra money, it can hurt your credit.

If you’re thinking about getting another dog, consider this:

Hair Makes a Difference

Petfinder.com puts the cost of owning a medium-sized dog at more than $1,000 in year one of ownership. And the costs just keep coming. Have a long-haired dog? That means a lot of trips to the groomer. That’s hundreds more each year.

Fido Doesn’t Need Your Scraps

And food. What dog doesn’t need food? If you want to avoid too many trips to the veterinarian’s office (more on that later), you won’t be feeding Fido table scraps. Instead it will be a quality dog food. Figure on another couple of hundred a year.

Doggie Daycare?

Going away and can’t bring your four-legged friend? What about when you’re gone all day at work? Unless you’ve got a friend or relative willing to do some dog-sitting and dog-walking, get out the checkbook again to pay a pet sitter or walker, send him to doggie daycare or put her up in a pooch hotel.

It’s a very rare — or very careless — dog owner who doesn’t experience the running tab of pet ownership.

At some point, and this point comes earlier and more frequently with certain breeds and just bad luck, you’re going to have to go to the vet for more than just the annual physical. (Figure on $150–$200 a year for just the routine medical bills, according to pet insurer Veterinary Pet Insurance.)

Don’t Forget Dental Needs

What if your dog needs a tooth pulled? That does happen, you know. Now we’re talking about maybe $900. What if your dog gets bitten by another dog and needs surgery? Now we’re talking about $2,000 or $3,000. And when a dog gets older and requires more treatment, expect those veterinary bills to be more frequent and more expensive. You get the picture.

Save Up – You’ll Need It

To avoid having your new friend kill your credit because you had to pile all those unexpected costs onto your credit card that you now can’t pay, consider putting a few dollars a week aside to build an emergency fund. And understand up front that along with the fun of pet ownership is responsibility and part of that responsibility is financial.

If you go into the arrangement with your eyes open and wallet ready you’ll be in a much better position when you have to pay money to keep your dog well.

puppy destroying your FICO score