Giving Away Your Dog? Reasons and Solutions

Steps To Take If You're Unable to Keep Your Pet

illustration of reasons not to give up your dog

Illustration: Melissa Ling. © The Spruce, 2018

It's a big responsibility to have a dog, but sometimes life gets in the way and you might have to make serious choices such as giving up a beloved pet. There are many ways to avoid this, but if you've exhausted all of your options, please know you are not alone. Consider contacting animal rescue groups, many of which will accept dogs under certain circumstances. If you cannot find a new home, foster arrangement, or rescue group, your last resort may be giving away a dog to a shelter or surrendering your pet to animal control. But be aware that many dogs never get adopted from these shelters and can end up being put to death. In addition, never abandon a dog; it's illegal to do so in most areas under animal cruelty laws.

Fast Fact

Nearly 400,000 dogs in the United States are euthanized each year because of overcrowding in shelters, so try not to contribute to that number.

Here is a list of situations you may be experiencing and alternative options to consider before deciding to give your dog away.

I’m Moving and My New Place Does Not Allow Dogs

With diligence, it's possible to find a pet-friendly residence. Though renting an apartment with a dog is not always easy, try to negotiate the conditions with potential landlords and be willing to spend a little extra money. If you absolutely must move right away and cannot find a place that allows your dog, talk to friends and family who may be willing to take care of your dog for an extended period while you search for other arrangements.

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I Am Having a Baby

Congratulations on your happy news! However, you don't need to give up your dog because of the new baby. Growing up with a dog is a wonderful experience for children. In fact, evidence suggests that early exposure to dogs can prevent the development of allergies in children.

Dogs and kids can be a great combination if handled correctly. It is essential that your dog is properly trained and exposed to babies and small children before your baby is born. Then, be certain to introduce the baby to the dog appropriately. Plus, it's important that you raise your children to respect dogs.

Make sure you include your dog in as many family events, outings, and gatherings as possible. If your dog knows its place in the family, you can have a safer, more peaceful family unit. Your dog and your kids must understand how to act appropriately around one another. If done right, growing up with a dog is one of the best gifts you can give to your child.

My Dog Has Health or Behavioral Issues That Are out of Control

Health problems and behavior issues with pets are frustrating but it is never fair to give away a suffering dog unless you have tried everything in your power to alleviate the situation. Here are steps to take:

  • Find a veterinarian who understands your difficult situation and ask for a referral to a specialist or get a second opinion.
  • Have your vet rule out health-related issues that may be causing behavior issues.
  • Find a trainer or behaviorist or learn about dog training on your own to train your dog to act appropriately, whether or not the behavior problems were caused by past history or unknown reasons.

Certain issues can be resolved, so, for example, you may not need to consider giving away a dog with separation anxiety. Some health or behavior issues can't be resolved. In some severe cases, professionals may advise you that the most humane thing you can do is euthanasia as a last resort.

I Cannot Afford My Dog Anymore

Financial struggles can happen to anyone, and understandably affording your dog can become very difficult. Before deciding to give the dog away, learn more about the cost of dog ownership, then make a budget that includes your pet’s necessary expenses. You may find that you can afford your dog after all, especially if you make wise choices to save money on dog care expenses.

To lower long-term expenses, do everything you can to keep your dog healthy. A nutritious diet, regular exercise, and preventive veterinary care all play major roles in keeping future costs down. Search for money-saving tips to help you pinch pennies, such as the following:

  • Visit low-cost clinics for routine vaccinations. To find one, contact your local animal shelter or pet supply stores for information.
  • Contact the Humane Society for leads to local pet pantries, free or low-cost spay/neuter resources, discounted vet care, fundraising sources, financial resources for medical needs, breed-specific rescue group care, and other necessities.
  • Resist the urge to buy extras such as a new collar, dog bed, or bag of treats. Make dog supplies, offer your dog carrots or apples as snacks, and make homemade treats.
  • Continue giving heartworm and flea prevention as treating these issues is more expensive than prevention.
  • Feed your pet an affordable high-quality diet and ignore generic or economy food just to save money; Low-quality diets can cause poor health in the long run. You don't have to invest in premium food or a holistic/natural diet, and grain-free diets are not always necessary for most dogs. Instead, look for a mid-range diet that has meat as the first ingredient. If you still want your dog to have the very best quality ingredients, consider a homemade diet. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Tip

If you have a large veterinarian bill, don't give up! There are organizations that may be able to help you afford necessary care for your pet. For example, if you are facing cancer care for your dog, you may be able to find help to reduce treatment costs by contacting various organizations like the Pet Fund ready to help.

I Have an Illness or Other Physical Limitation and Can No Longer Care for My Dog

It's understandable why you might feel the need to give up your dog in this situation, but there may be other options. Your dog will most likely be a comfort to you during your illness, so it will be beneficial to keep it around. Even if you need to enter a nursing home, there may be a way to keep your dog around. Consider these suggestions:

  • Turn to your family, friends, or a pet sitting or boarding service that can help care for the dog while you are in your home. If you cannot afford boarding fees, reach out to an organization like RedRover.org that may be able to offer you an emergency assistance or an emergency boarding grant.
  • Learn about outreach programs in some cities and towns where volunteers can come and care for the pets of sick owners. Contact your local animal rescue groups for suggestions.
  • Research whether a nursing home or similar facility will consider helping you place your dog with family or friends or if your pet can visit or live with you. More and more care facilities understand the positive impact pets can have on residents.
Article Sources
The Spruce Pets uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. 2021 U.S. State Animal Protection Laws Rankings. Animal Legal Defense Fund.

  2. Pet Statistics. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

  3. Hesselmar, Bill et al. Pet-keeping in Early Life Reduces the Risk of Allergy in a Dose-dependent FashionPloS one vol. 13,12 e0208472. 19 Dec. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0208472

  4. Dogs And Babies. American Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals.

  5. Are You Having Trouble Affording Your Pet? The Humane Society of the United States.

  6. Deborah E. Linder, DACVN. Does An Apple A Day Keep The Vet Away? Harmful Vs Healthy Foods For PetsClinical Nutrition Service.

  7. Overview of Nutrition: Small Animals. Merck Veterinary Manual.

  8. Get help. RedRover.