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The warmth of the welcome you get when you return home can’t be beaten. No matter what the day has dealt you, your dog gives you unconditional love that naturally helps to lift any bad mood. They don’t call a dog man’s best friend for no reason; a dog gives you affection, loyalty and companionship wanting very little in return. For a lot of people a dog is not just a pet but a member of the family and can often take the place of a child or a human companion.

However, the cost of owning a dog is undoubtedly a big factor that still deters some from adding a furry pal to their family. A recent survey by Voucherbox has shown that the lifetime cost of owning a dog is over £15,000. Dog food is one of the highest costs at an average of £420 per year according to said survey. To reduce your costs search for deals or promotions and bulk buy, but whatever you purchase make sure your dog gets a balanced diet.

Lifetime vet costs can vary massively depending on the health of your dog, but some costs are to be expected, such as worming and annual booster shots. Try to reduce your costs by shopping around before joining a practice. Pet insurance can also help with reducing these costs but it also comes at a premium. Consider whether monthly insurance premiums are more manageable for you than costly unexpected vet bills. Check policies carefully as not all will cover conditions that occur on renewal and a lifetime policy might better for you.

Other costs include kennel stays, toys and treats, as well as the initial cost of buying doggy essentials like beds or a kennel, lead and collar. If you decide to undertake professional dog training then the costs will rise further, up to £100 a day with some trainers, so it’s certainly a big decision.

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Dog ownership isn’t about the cost though, is it? It’s about what a dog gives to you. And to the cynics, the ones that like to look at cold, hard facts, there are even quantifiable advantages to the companionship and love your four-legged friend can provide.

Dog owners get lots health benefits too. A dog will not let you rest until they have had a good walk and play. Walking and getting fresh air are a fantastic way to improve your health. The NHS states that regular walking helps to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. Moreover, a study by the University of Victoria has shown that dog owners walk an average 300 minutes per week compared non-dog owners who walk 168 minutes, with all the good stuff that brings to your health and even your appearance.

Dog owners are also less likely to suffer from stress and high blood pressure as a result of their relationship with their dog. Scientists argue that dog owners’ blood pressure and heart rate were less impacted when under stress than non-dog owners.

In addition to numerous studies, most of us also have heard a lot of anecdotal evidence about dogs helping with rehabilitation from illnesses and keeping elderly dog owners more independent. Further studies have also shown that dogs can help in the case of seizures as well as detect cancer and low blood sugar.

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So, dog ownership is certainly more than just about the pleasure of the companionship and the cost of ownership is definitely outweighed by the physical and mental benefits that our furry friends give us. No wonder most dog owners are happy people.