The cost of a dog: Here’s how expensive it can be to own a pooch
How much does it cost to own a dog? These are the monthly expenses to keep in mind. Tim Mulkerin/Mic

Dogs are the best. They keep their humans active and happy, and they can make even the darkest days feel a little bit lighter with their sweet and loving welcome when you get home. But as with most things, great benefits come with great expenses — and dog ownership can cost a pretty penny.

According to a new Rover.com survey of 1,500 adults in the U.S., dog owners spend much more than they think they do. Respondents believed they spent anywhere between $26 and $75 per month on their dog, while data suggests that the average expenses related to dog ownership add up to $153 per month. This number does not take into consideration the initial costs associated with first getting a dog, including adoption fees, surgery for spaying or neutering, or dog beds.

If you don’t have a dog, or if you are in denial that you spend more than $150 on your pup every month, you may be wondering what exactly people are buying for their pooches, Rover looked into that, too. The survey found that many dog people like to treat their pet to a life of luxury: 45% of respondents said they would take their dog out for a special meal for their birthday, while one in three said they would shell out more than $250 on a special gift for their pet.

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Even more, one in four respondents said they have purchased a massage for their dog, and 43% would consider enrolling them in doga — that’s dog yoga for the uninitiated.

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If you’ve been longing for an animal friend but are experiencing a bit of sticker shock, you might consider a pet that’s more affordable than a dog: Small birds like parakeets, rodents like guinea pigs and hermit crabs are all considerably more cost efficient than four-legged fur balls. These animals are probably less likely than a dog to snuggle up with you on cold winter mornings or partake in a game of fetch, but at least they’re... no, never mind, dogs are truly the best.