What Is the Cost of Owning a Dog?
You may have made the decision to get a dog, but have you crunched the numbers? The cost of owning a dog requires upfront funds to get started and additional cash to manage ongoing expenses. Many pet parents will create a monthly pet budget to ensure that they can give their new furry friend exactly what they need to live their best life. Here's a primer to get you started in the planning process, bringing you a few steps closer to pet adoption day.
Getting Set Up: How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?
The first few weeks of being a pet parent are really exciting, but they can also be really expensive. The cost of owning a dog will vary based on your choices, but regardless, you should plan to set aside funds to cover initial expenses long before you bring your new dog home.
Depending on the method you use, you will most likely pay something to acquire your new pet. You can easily research this amount ahead of time by asking your local adoption programs or dog breeders what they charge for their dogs. Although rates vary across the globe, it's not uncommon for adoptions from animal rescues to range from $50 to $150, according to U.S. News & World Report. And expect a purebred dog purchase to be in the hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on breed, sex and age of the animal.
You may also consider having your female dog spayed or your male dog neutered. Some adoption programs or breeders will include a voucher for this service (or have it taken care of before picking up the pet), so it's included in your initial pet purchase fee. If not, expect to pay your veterinarian between $150 to $300 for this service, according to Petfinder.
First Vet Visit
After adopting your dog, you'll want to introduce them to your preferred vet for their first visit. It's recommended that you get them caught up on distemper and rabies vaccines ($20-$30), have a microchip placed (average $50), test for heartworms ($15-$35), start flea/tick prevention ($50-$200) and undergo a general overall checkup ($50-$100) to identify any health concerns that may need attention. These costs may vary from clinic to clinic, but be sure to call your vet ahead of time for a new dog wellness exam estimate.
Initial Pet Supplies
Before you bring your pet home, you'll need a few things to make them feel cozy, including a dog bed, kennel for training, leash, collar, food and water bowls, toys, an ID tag and treats. The kennel will likely be your largest expense, ranging from $25 to a few hundred, depending on size, material and style. The larger and fancier kennel you choose, the more it will cost. The other items could add up to a few hundred dollars, depending on what you select. To make the purchases more economical, shop the pet section at your favorite discount retailer or compare prices at online vendors rather than visiting boutique pet stores.
Pet Maintenance: What Are the Ongoing Costs of Having a Dog?
After you've welcomed your new dog home, you'll discover that supplies need to be replenished each month or so. Here's a list of items to consider as you tally the cost of owning a dog:
- Dog food
- Dog treats
- Dog toys
- Dog supplies (poop bags, grooming tools, etc.)
- Dog medications/supplements
- Veterinary visits
A good way to estimate your monthly cost is to acknowledge the price of each item and how long it lasts. For example, if your dog food costs $40 a bag and lasts eight weeks, based on the number of portions in the bag, you'll need to set aside $20 each month for the dog food budget. Some ongoing expenses won't need to be replaced monthly, such as a dog brush or dog nail trimmer. These may last a year or more and only need to be replaced as they wear out.
Additional Expenses: What Else Might My Dog Need?
There are other things you may want to provide for your dog — or that you may need to have a healthy relationship with your pet. As you start to get to know one another, you may decide that dog obedience classes ($30-$80 per group class or $45-$120 per hour-long private session) or pet day care ($15-$25 per day) are needed.
Other optional expenses to consider include:
- Boarding: If you don't have a friend or family member who can watch your pet, you'll need to pay a vet or boarding facility to house your dog when you're out of town.
- Insurance: Medical care can get costly for pet parents and pets alike. Consider an insurance policy to cover some of your dog's vet bills.
- Grooming: Long-haired dogs will need regular trims. All dogs need to be bathed and have their toenails trimmed regularly. Can you do this yourself, or will you need to hire a professional?
- Walking: Are you away from home for an extended period of time each day? You may want to hire a dog walker to give your pet an outside potty break and exercise session midday to alleviate boredom and tend to their basic needs.
So, how much does it cost to own a dog? Chat with your local pet parent friends and get recommendations. Have them loop you in on the best vets and places to shop. The cost of owning a dog can add up, especially during the first few weeks together. Being prepared ahead of time with a pet budget and funds set aside for this new chapter will help the transition go smoothly, leaving you more time to focus on playful visits to the dog park and comfy evenings snuggled close. Here's to happy days ahead with your new pet!
Angela Tague is a pet mom and writer living in the Midwest. When she's not making a mess in the kitchen, exploring nature trails with her dog, or attending a yoga workshop, she's writing full-time for multiple lifestyle and technology brands. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn @AngelaTague.