The Costs of Dog Ownership

Understanding the typical costs involved in dog ownership

Being a dog owner requires an investment or money, time, and energy, but how much does it cost to care for a dog properly? Dog care may be within your budget or not so let’s examine the costs involved in canine companions. The average cost of owning a dog is estimated to cost anywhere from $1,400 to $4,300 per year. The costs are directly related to the size and age of your dog, your lifestyle as well as your dogs, the individual needs of your dog, and even changes based on where you live. Dog food is not the only expense. Many people adopt dogs without factoring the costs for all a dog’s needs and eventually run into trouble. Setting a budget, knowing your limitations, and choosing a pet you can afford is critical to being a responsible pet owner since you will have to be financially responsible for your dog and all its care.

The Basic Costs Dog Ownership:


Annual Estimated Cost

Food and Treats

$275 to $730


$35 to $70


$35 to $200

Leashes and Collars

$20 to $50


$30 to $500

Routine Veterinary Care for a healthy dog

$700 to $2,000

Preventative Medications and Supplements

$250 to $700

Training Classes or Resources

$25 to $350

Dog Walking (between Free if you are always available and home all year and every day to walk your dog or have another family member to do so or up to $20 per walk, 1x per weekday)

$0 to $5,200

Pet sitters or Boarding

$100 to $300 each weekly vacation

The monthly cost of having a dog can be as cheap as $125 and for some dogs and lifestyles, dog ownership can cost as much as $880 each month. The annual costs for a dog are between $1,700 minimum to or up to $9,900 a year for a truly pampered pup.

All new dogs and puppies have costs that are the initial investment. Adoption fees can be $50.00, on average 125.00, up to $225, and include discounted neutering or spaying and may even include microchipping. Buying a dog from a breeder averages $500-2000 and the better the breeder, the more you should expect to pay. The reason why you should adopt or only buy a dog from a reputable professional breeder and not am amateur backyard breeder because when you pay less for a purebred dog you will pay more in the long run because your dog will not be as well-bred and have worse health problems as they grow up or have congenital defects. To save money on a purebred dog, adopt a rescue purebred from specific breed rescue organizations.

The very big expense is the first vet visit and the first vet visit is mandatory to establish a pet’s baseline health and check its development as well as get your dog their vaccines. Between the cost of vaccines, preventive medications, and any special treatments your dog requires, that initial vet visit will cost $75 to 325 dollars. Young puppies’ first vet visits are as much as $300 and puppies need to see the vet several weeks until 4 months old for boosters and weigh-ins so a young puppy’s vet expenses can add up fast and need to be factored for and planned. Those follow up puppy visits can cost around 200 each or lower or higher depending on location. Choosing a reliable trustworthy vet in a good neighborhood will cost less than taking your new puppy to the local vet to the stars. Once a puppy is fully vetted and monthly flea and tick prevention paid for unless your dog becomes ill, a one-year checkup and then annual wellness visits keep prices down on vet care.

Dog supplies are also the equivalent of start-up costs for a dog and will need to be replaced as the dog grows or wears them out. Necessary supplies are dog food, dishes, a collar, a leash or harness, a dog bed, toys, a brush, and any other things you decide on such as a crate. There is also the cost of obedience classes or training materials. Close to six months into ownership, unless done by the shelter if adopted or discounted, it is necessary to spay or neuter your puppy, and this costs between $100-400. The first year of dog ownership is always twice the cost of ownership than subsequent years so you may want to consider a dog that’s already passed out of puppyhood and only needs the wellness check and all vaccine boosters if the dog is over a year and is in good health. If you enroll your dog in obedience classes, training starts as a puppy, so whether you buy books, videos, or AKC formal classes, budget at least $25 to $300 per year for training expenses.

Dog food should be an AAFCO approved high-quality food that provides “complete and balanced nutrition”. Dog food can cost from $20 to $60 per month ($250 to $700 per year). Larger breeds and sporting or high-energy breeds require more food so the food expense for them will be higher than a smaller dog or a laid-back breed like a basset hound. Healthy dogs do not usually need special food formulations such as specialty proteins or therapeutic prescription diets unless the vet orders it. Prescription or novel protein diets can cost $100 or more each month so provided your dog has no chronic health conditions and is thriving on a commercial nutritious diet, there’s no need to provide a fancy diet.

Dog toys are another necessity as toys provide your dog with the necessary exercise and give them the mental stimulation they need. Toys can prevent behavioral problems from bored dogs. Allow $25 to $150 per year for toys and avoid impulse buying toys. Every time you go out, your dog does not need a new toy. Some toys are cute but try to resist spending money on toys if your dog already has tons of them and doesn’t play with most of them. Dogs who are giant breeds or serious chewers will destroy toys and require them to be faster. If you have a dog that gnaws toys apart quickly, purchase suitable durable toys designed for rough playing dogs.

A dog needs at least one leash or harness and a collar for his rabies vaccine tag and with ID tags. Prices vary on these items, but kiosks can print ID tags cheaply and not set you back to update and engrave a new one with any address or phone changes. The larger the dog, the more a collar and leash or harness will cost. If you are lucky, a leash and collar may last a year or longer if you buy quality ones. Cheap collars and leashes will not last as long, but you need not consider selling an organ for the fancy leash either. Safety and quality can be balanced with cost. Dogs need a bed or crate and often a toybox too. Getting a washable quality bed saves money in the long run. Having two beds will also allow you to have your still sleep in your room and not hog the blankets The grooming expense of a dog depends on his coat and if you want him or her to have a hairstyle or if they need one. Some owners are happy to brush their dog regularly and only allow the vet or the groomer to trim their nails occasionally whereas owners with coats that grow need regular grooming or trims to keep their coats from getting soiled around their tail and not have their hair grow over their eyes. A good dog brush may only cost around $10 and a bottle of dog shampoo a few dollars but if your dog does need professional grooming services, you should allow and budget $30 for minimal services rarely to as much as $500 each year for monthly visits to the groomer. Having your poodle dyed pink or purple can be a cost you may want to minimize by having your poodle merely given a cute short cut, especially during the summers.

Regular vet checkups each year will cost $200 to $300 each year. The annual lab work and fees should not be skipped and may add another couple hundred dollars to the bill. These are considered preventative care visits and are only covered by some comprehensive special pet insurance plans. If you opt for dog health insurance, expect another monthly bill of $35-50. Depending on diet and other factors, such as you not brushing your dogs’ teeth at home and training him to tolerate if not like it while still a puppy, an annual dental cleaning may be required. Dental cleanings need to be done to an anesthetized dog and will cost $300 to $800 although some vets will have specials on this. For dogs with dental or gum disease, these pups will need more intensive cleanings and if a dog requires a tooth to be pulled, it can cost $800 or more. Those annual checkups will increase in price as your pet ages, although for your dog’s young adulthood and into early maturity, the price generally remains constant.  You will also get a prescription or recommendation from the vet to prevent heartworms, fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Some dogs will also need supplements for joint health if recommended by the vet, as well as any prescriptions for illnesses or chronic health conditions such as hyper or hypothyroidism. You should budget $100 to $500 per year depending on the health, age, size, and particular needs of your canine companion. Unexpected vet care emergencies can also be economic pressure. Emergency vet hospital visits can start at $500 to $1000 and depending on what is the problem can reach beyond several thousands of dollars. Surgery can cost several thousands of dollars as well and if your dog requires ICU care, the cost of care is $200-500 each day for Intensive Care vet hospital care.

You may need to hire a dog walker depending on your lifestyle or if no one else is home to walk the dog if you work late or your children are too young to do so. If you can always walk your dog and they can handle not being able to pee or poop while you work, you have free dog walking. However, if you aren’t able to have a secure dog door with a fenced-in and secure yard or have an irregular schedule or a dog that needs more walks than you are around for, a professional dog walker or pet sitter is needed. The normal cost is around $20 a walk and includes a 20-minute walk and then treats and notes for the owner reporting the walk activities. If your dog needs a dog walker to take them out daily, each month you may pay $433 each per month, so many dog walkers and pet sitters offer package deals when purchasing blocks of walks or sits. Many people have to travel for work or go on vacation and have to make arrangements for their pets The common annual expense for boarding is cheaper but many people prefer to allow their dog to stay in the comforts of home and have a licensed, bonded and insured professional pet. Boarding or pet sitting for just these number of occasions costs $100 to $300 a year in most markets. The more you travel, the more this expense will be, as will the expenses of flying and traveling with your dog.

Understanding the typical costs involved in dog ownership and learning tips and tricks to save money such as vet bills and not spoiling your pup to the point it causes you trouble paying your bills, you and your dog will know what you need to and can provide for it and you can plan and make better economic decisions to be a responsible pet owner.



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