How Much Does It Really Cost to Own a Dog?

Owning a dogThis August 26th we celebrate #NationalDogDay, which is dedicated to man’s (or woman’s) best friend. It’s a wonderful day that celebrates the many ways in which dogs enrich our lives, serve our communities and protect our nation.

It’s also a time when individuals and families are encouraged to make a home for a deserving dog.

There is enormous joy in owning a dog, and many of us grew up with a dog as a family pet. However, for those who are just starting out there’s a big difference between having a dog growing up, and being solely responsible for a dog of your own.

Before you decide to bring a furry friend home with you, we wanted to provide you with a sense of how much it really costs to own a dog.

1. How Much is that Doggy in the Window?

First, there’s the question of where you’re getting your dog. If you’re planning to buy a purebred dog from a breeder, you can easily pay between $500 and $2,000. Adopting from your local shelter is a more affordable option. However, you’ll still need to pay an administrative fee, and depending on where you live, you’ll need to pay for a dog license, tags, and other paperwork to establish ownership and ensure that your dog is both healthy, and safe to own.

2. Sick as a Dog

Cost of owning a dog

Once you’ve brought your dog home, you’ll definitely need to spend money to get your new best friend off to a good start. When you bring your dog to the vet for the first time, expect to pay for a number of services. These can include:

  • Spaying or Neutering: $200 – Otherwise you may end up with a litter of unwanted puppies.
  • Initial Medical Exam: $70 – Because dogs get sick too.
  • Vaccinations: $100 – Because no one wants to come home to rabies.
  • Microchipping: $45 – This is becoming increasingly popular as a means for pet owners to recover their pets in the event that they get lost or run away. This is especially important in urban areas where strays are plentiful and pet shelters are often filled beyond capacity.

It’s not unreasonable to expect your first trip to the vet to run an average of $500. That’s assuming your dog is in good health. Even if your dog avoids illness or injury, you’ll still need to factor in the cost of regular check-ups, flea and tick medications, and more.

The ASPCA recommends purchasing pet insurance which can help cover costs for unforeseen medical expenses throughout your dog’s life. There are a number of plans available through national carriers, but keep in mind that this can cost an average of $50 a month.

3. In the Dog House

Once you’ve checked that your dog is healthy, it’s time to help him or her feel comfortable in your home and outside. You’ll need a leash and collar for walks, a crate or dog bed for your pet to sleep in, food and water bowls, a carrying crate for trips to the vet, plus chew toys, rubber balls and more.

Keep in mind, that it’s not just your dog you’ll need to care for. Even the cleanest dogs are likely to shed, have accidents, throw up and chew on anything that isn’t nailed down. You’ll definitely want to invest in stain removers, lint rollers, bathroom pads, and, if there are parts of your home that are off-limits, moveable gates to keep them out of the no-go areas.

All told, you can easily expect to spend another $500 in initial expenses, and that’s before you’ve brought your dog home.

4. Dog Eat Dog

How much does owning a dog costOnce you’ve brought your dog home, you’ll need to feed it. While the cost of food will depend on the size and appetite of your dog, expect to pay an additional $400 a year for food, plus the cost of treats, dental chews, dog biscuits and everything else that your dog needs to consume. Don’t forget, what goes in must come out, so be prepared to stock up on plastic bags to scoop up what your dog leaves behind on daily walks.

5. Leader of the Pack

Chances are, you won’t be the only person who has a stake in the future health and happiness of your dog. If you can’t get your dog to sit and heel on command, you should plan to pay at least $100 for obedience training. Then you need to factor in dog-walkers, dog-sitters, and/or the cost of boarding if you go out of town. Want your dog to feel like a superstar, or simply to keep it clean and healthy? Expect that he or she will need regular visits to a groomer as well.

6. Who Let the Dogs Out

Overall a dog can easily cost upwards of $27,000 to $42,000 over its lifetime. But it’s also important to remember that not all the costs of owning a dog are financial. Owning a dog means that you are responsible for it 24/7. No matter how much fun you’re having with your friends, you’ll need to come home to make sure your best friend is fed and walked. You’ll need to cope with misbehavior, and if your life requires mobility, you’ll need to make sure you can bring the dog with you as well.

That said, there is enormous joy in owning a dog, especially if you do it in a way that is financially responsible. Because after all…

“A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart, and he’ll give you his. How many people can you say that about? How many people can make you feel rare and pure and special? How many people can make you feel extraordinary?”
― John Grogan, Marley & Me

Looking to save money so that you can bring home a new best friend? Come talk with us today! We can help you figure out more ways to save money and build a strong financial future.