As much as owning a dog is an emotional and heartfelt decision, there is always a financial side to consider when signing up to become a dog parent. What’s the cost of owning a dog? Many dog parents make the mistake of focusing solely on the upsides of having a dog and forget to consider the financial cost involved.
On the other hand, those that do consider the cost make the mistake of thinking that the cost of feeding a dog is the only expense they will incur. At the end of the day, they run into trouble regarding the proper care and maintenance of their pets.
To avoid such problems, you must have a comprehensive idea of how much it costs to own a dog and what you’ll need to know; this guide helps. In this guide, we’ll cover all the essential topics and answer all the questions that you might have regarding the cost of owning a dog such as:
- Cost of food & treats
- Cost of leashes, collars, licenses and ID tags
- Cost of routine veterinary care
- Cost of grooming
- Cost of adopting or buying a dog
- Initial vet, vaccination and medical costs
- Cost of dog beds, bowls, crate, and gate
- Cost of optional pet supplies & accessories
- Cost of pet care services
- Cost of pet insurance
Check out a full summary table of the costs of owning a dog and get your free dog ownership costs estimator sheet at the end of this article too!
If you think all there is to owning a dog is adopting one and coming up with a punny dog name, think again. According to the law in different parts of the world, dog ownership entails buying, caring for, and being responsible for the dog’s conduct in private and public.
This means it’s not enough to just adopt a dog; you will need to cater to every aspect of the dog’s life, including its health, feeding, and training. Just like you do for human babies and other dependents, your fur babies are entirely your responsibility.
So you did your research on how to choose the right dog breed for your personality and lifestyle, and you have a healthy dog, fresh from your vet’s caring hands after their initial vet visit. However, annually, you will need to visit the vet for a wellness checkup. Also, the next task at hand is to get important supplies that make it easier for you and your dog to live in, and interact with, their new environment.
Initially, and then every month or so, there are a few things you will need to buy or restock, some more frequently than others. We’re talking supplies including leashes, beds, food and water bowls, collars, and toys.
First we will go over recurring monthly and annual costs to be prepared for. Then we’ll review the initial, and one-time costs of owning a dog.
As humans, we are what we eat. Your dogs are living beings as well, and the same goes for them too! We cannot overstate the importance of giving your good boy or good girl healthy, high-quality, and nutritious food and treats.
They also need to be fed regularly, so you must have enough quantity to cater to your furry friend’s needs. Speak to your vet about your new pup’s dietary needs and how often (and how much) you need to feed them.
While your dog’s dietary needs depend on its breed, size, age, and energy level, you can expect to spend between $20 and $60 per month on dog food. This translates to a range of about $240 and $720 every year.
Yes, this is a wide range. Why? This projection could increase if your dog requires special order food or a therapeutic veterinary diet. Or maybe you, as the pet parent, have preferences on the type of food you would like to feed your dog for health and/or personal reasons. These dog diets could shoot the bill up by several hundred dollars so be prepared.
For example, a dog parent member of the Dog Life Mag team found out that her sweet, small Shih Tzu Bichon mixed breed dog is allergic to chicken and rice and had to stop feeding her dog kibble. The vet suggested a diet of freshly made food; a combo of organic sweet potato, organic carrots, organic green beans and bison.
She now spends about $70 per month on food for her dog, an increase in $30 per month. Plus, she also has to give her dog a multi-vitamin supplement (to make sure her pup is getting her daily required vitamins and minerals), an allergy immune supplement, and a probiotic supplement (for a healthy gut).
Some dog owners loathe the idea of leashing their dogs, while others don’t have an issue with it. However, at some point in training your dog, they will likely require a leash and collar, especially if you’ll be out and about in public. Remember, as a dog owner, it is important to keep your dog safe and well-behaved when you are outside and around others.
It is mandatory by law in many parts of the world that your dog must be on a leash and have on a collar, with ID tags, if they are to walk in public. The leash and collar also make identifying and controlling the dogs easy. Check with your local county or state regulations to figure out if you need a pet license and how much it will cost. Typically, pet licenses are required and cost between $5 – $60 and must be renewed annually.
Depending on your dog breed and personality, and your personal preference, you might also consider using a harness when walking your dog. Many pet parents opt to attach the leash to a dog harness for safer control and more comfortable walking experience for their dog.
While we’ve listed these supplies as recurring costs, you won’t need to spend much on these. A leash and collar can cost between $20 to $50 and a harness can cost about $25 to $35 and these pet accessories and supplies can last several years with proper care.
Routine Veterinary Care
If you recall, you must visit the vet immediately after adopting your dog. Well, that visit is one of the many times you will see the vet. You will need to take your dog to the vet regularly, especially if your dog is younger than 16 weeks old.
If your dog is over 16 weeks, you can cut the vet visits to once or twice a year. Dental cleaning and lab work to check your dog’s vitals are some of the core activities at the vet, and these may cost hundreds of dollars.
The annual lab work can cost between $100 to $300, while dental cleaning may cost between $300 to $800. If your dog has diseased teeth, the cost of dental cleaning may increase up to a range between $800 to $3000.
Brushing your dog’s teeth with dog-safe toothpaste regularly, on at least a weekly basis, can help prevent tooth decay and disease decreasing the likelihood of the need for diseased tooth extraction or surgery and the cost that comes along with it.
Grooming is another recurrent cost of owning a dog, and the frequency with which you groom your dog depends on the dog’s fur coat. Also, you may not need to take your dog to a groomer to be clipped on a monthly basis, but you may have initial costs for buying the most common grooming supplies required as a pet parent; such as a brush, shampoo, scissors, nail clippers, ear cleaner, toothbrush and dog-safe toothpaste.
Generally, shedding, short-haired and smooth-coated dogs require less grooming than dogs that are non-shedding or with constantly growing hair.
Between the groomer’s fee and the supplies you need to groom your dog, you will spend on average between $30 and $720 every year on grooming.
Again, a wide range that will be dependent on several factors such as your preferences (will you groom the dog yourself with clippers or will you take your dog to a groomer every 1-2 months), if your dog’s fur coat naturally sheds and doesn’t need trimming, or if your dog is non-shedding and needs trimming monthly.
Also, consider what your dog’s daily activities will be and the environment they’ll live in. Will you be taking your dog hiking in the woods weekly where they’ll get muddy and need a weekly bath? Or is your dog a small breed that prefers to stay inside and might sometimes play in the fenced in backyard where they won’t get too dirty and may only need a bath once every few weeks?
If you’ll be needing to groom and wash your pet often, look into creating a DIY dog grooming station too!
Although they are absolute angels, puppies do not grow on trees. You will have to buy or adopt one to become a dog parent. Whether you choose to shop or adopt is up to you, but we strongly advocate more for adopting as there are already too many shelter dogs that need to find a furever home!
You can adopt your dog from a respectable and reputable breeder, a pet store, or a dog shelter. The ideal option depends on the type of dog that will fit your lifestyle and what your budget is.
Getting your dog from a breeder is preferred by those who want a purebred and are willing to spend a lot of money to purchase their dog. While reputable breeders pay the utmost attention to the dogs they raise, getting your dogs from a breeder could set you back between $800 to $2500 or more.
If you prefer adoption and/or a mixed-breed dog, you can find them in pet stores, rescue homes, or dog shelters. Dog shelters have the cheapest price tag for adopting puppies and adult dogs, as you might expect. In the end, you may only spend between $50 and $200. Also, many shelters will vet, vaccinate, and spay/neuter a dog before giving them for adoption. So if you choose to adopt, you may avoid some of these initial costs!
Up next on the list of initial costs are the vaccination costs. It is important to note that regardless of where you get your four-legged best friend from, the vet should be the first point of call after getting a dog. In fact, make sure you have your vet on speed dial.
At your first vet checkup, the vet will examine your dog and let you know if there are any medications, vaccines, or other healthcare expenses that you may incur to maintain your new pooch’s health. If you adopted from a shelter, check with them, they may provide some of these initial services (e.g. vaccinations) at no cost to you!
Depending on the dog’s health status, the vet’s location, and other factors, the initial visit to the vet may cost between $50 and $300. This excludes the vet’s fee, ranging from $100 to $300.
Don’t overlook the costs of spaying or neutering! Spaying or neutering a dog typically costs around $300. If you have purchased or adopted a dog that is not spayed or neutered, you will need to schedule that with your vet once your pet reaches the appropriate age, which is typically about 4 – 6 months of age.
But always consult with your vet to better understand timelines and budget for spaying and neutering. Many shelters provide resources for low- or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries, check out the PetSmart database to find providers in your area.
We call these expenses dog-proofing your home or setting up your home for your dog. You will need a dog-friendly food and water bowl that won’t be easily broken if your dog flips it over and also is the right size for the serving size your dog will require. Pet food and water bowls are usually pretty inexpensive running about $15 – $25 for a set.
Your dog deserves a pet bed that will provide a sense of security and a comfortable place to rest. A cozy bed for your dogs may cost you between $30 to $60 on average, and possibly more. The more durable and higher quality the bed, the more you will have to pay for it.
However, it’s best not to skimp on quality too much. Try to find yourself a durable dog bed that is washable and made of quality material for a longer product lifespan.
If you are planning to crate train your dog, or if you will need to crate your dog while you are at work or out running errands, you will need to budget for and purchase the proper size crate for your dog so that your new furry family member stays safe (and your home does too!).
Maybe you prefer to securely gate your dog in an area of your home while you are at work or out of the house, or maybe there are areas of your home that you need to gate off to keep your pup safe and out of trouble. If so, you will need to budget in the purchase of a pet gate.
Figure out whether you will need a freestanding, foldable pet gate, a more permanent walk-thru dog gate, or even a portable, expandable pet gate that can be easily removed and fits in different spaces. Depending on your preferences and situational needs, a pet gate may run you anywhere between $25 – $75 on average.
Don’t overlook the option of creating a safe and cozy crate for your dog by repurposing a piece of furniture you already have in your home, like an end or side table, a coffee table, or a tv console or tv stand! A DIY dog crate cover table can be a great way to stay within your budget while creating a safe and secure space for your dog while you’re out of the house running errands.
Additional Costs of Owning a Dog
Optional Pet Supplies & Accessories
On top of the above essential dog supplies that every pet parent needs to consider to provide a safe and healthy home environment, there are additional pet supplies that may apply to your specific needs, your dog’s specific needs, or due to your preferences.
For one, do you have a fenced in yard where your dog will “do their business”? Or will you need to take your dog for a walk for them to pee and poop? You might need to buy poop bags to clean up after your pet on walks, or a pooper scooper to clean up your back yard, or have you considered how you will house train them and if you will use puppy pads?
Next think about traveling with your dog. You will occasionally need to bring your dog along for a ride in the car to the vet or the dog park, and just like you need to wear a seatbelt to be safely secured, they do too! You can attach a pet seatbelt to their harness or buy a tested and approved car-safe harness for your dog. Typically these run from $10 – $30.
If you will be flying, there are a variety of restrictions, and if your pet is small enough you may be allowed to bring them in the airplane cabin with you in an airline approved pet carrier. If your feet (and paws) will be hitting the streets, some smaller pets may not be able to walk as far as you can, but you still would love to bring them along on your long walks or errands, right! If that is the case, consider a pet stroller which is also great for senior pets who still love to get out and about but just don’t have the ability or energy to be on their paws for that long.
Another component of dog ownership costs that you may need to consider is pet insurance. According to an estimation by the American Pets Products Association in 2021, pet parents worldwide spend up to $123.6 billion on their pets annually, which is set to increase with time. This estimate includes feeding, pet supplies, medications, and veterinary care. If you want to have the potential to make vet bills more affordable, getting a pet insurance policy for your canine friend is an option you should consider.
Pet Insurance works like your regular human health insurance — you pay a monthly premium on the insurance policy and get reimbursed on the veterinary costs that the plan covers after you make claims for reimbursements and the claims get verified.
Pet insurance plans vary but can cover many of the health issues and injuries that your dog may get, making you better prepared for the unexpected. It’s also worth noting that many pet insurance plans for dogs do not cover preventive care for your pet or pre-existing conditions.
They usually don’t cover veterinary activities such as lab work, vaccinations, annual exams, and dental cleaning. Usually, the best pet insurance plans will cover a portion of the costs for an injury or illness if you pet gets sick or hurt.
Since pet insurance plans don’t cover pre-existing conditions, we advise pet parents to get pet insurance for their pets as soon as they can.
The exact amount depends on many factors, such as your dog’s breed, age, medical condition, location, and the pet insurance company you choose. You may need to pay within a range of $29 for a $5000 annual coverage and $56 for a policy with unlimited annual coverage. Click here to learn more about shopping for pet insurance for dogs.
Pet Care Services
Pet care is also an important recurring expense that you might have monthly. If you choose to employ dog walking services or enroll your pup in a pet daycare, you could run up a sizable bill.
Now, these services aren’t always an absolute necessity as dog walking could cost $0 if you walk your dog yourself.
But if you are too busy and hire someone to walk your dog, the expenses may run up to $300 – $400 per month (on average $20 per day). It’s important to know that dog walking rates or general pet care varies from provider to provider. This is why research and comparisons are crucial.
As a dog parent, keeping your dog mentally stimulated and enriched is one of the best things you can do for them. Toys provide a healthy avenue for mental stimulation and physical exercise. There are usually lots of options and variety to choose from when buying dog toys, so it helps to have a budget before setting out to buy them.
You may need to spend between $25 and $150 on dog toys. But this estimate depends on your dog’s energy level and the type of toys your dog prefers to play with.
Think bigger, more durable toys for the bigger, more energetic dogs. If you’re adopting a senior dog, they still need stimulation and engagement too! Just be sure to get toys that will be gentle on their senior teeth and consider potential vision or hearing loss.
Pro tip from one dog owner to another: prepare to buy toys that your dog may never even take a second sniff of!
Summary Table of Costs of Owning a Dog
The Essential Costs of Owning a Dog
|Monthly & Annual Costs||Avg. Monthly Cost||Avg. Annual Cost|
|Food & treats||$20 – $60||$240 – $720|
|Pet license||$5 – 60|
|Medical costs (wellness visits, vaccines, tests)||$150 – $300|
|Heartworm & flea prevention||$29||$350|
|One-time Costs||Average Cost|
|Adoption / purchase fees||$50 – $200 / $800 – $2000+|
|Medical costs (initial vet visit & vaccines)||$150 – $600|
|Spaying or neutering||$300|
|Dental cleaning*||$300 – $800|
|Collar / Leash / Harness||$20 – $50|
|Setting Up Home:|
|Dog bowls||$15 – $25|
|Dog bed||$30 – $60|
|Dog crate||$35 – $80|
|Dog toys||$25 – $150|
|Pet first aid kit||$25 – $50|
|Brush||$12 – $20|
|Shampoo & Conditioner||$15 – $20|
|Scissors||$10 – $15|
|Grooming clippers||$65 – $99|
|Nail clippers||$15 – $30|
|Ear cleaner||$20 – $25|
|Dog toothbrush & dog-safe toothpaste||$20 – $25|
Possible Additional Costs of Owning a Dog
|Monthly, Annual & One-time Costs*||Avg Monthly Cost||Avg Annual Cost||One-time Cost|
|Pet insurance||$29 – $56||$300 – $672|
|Supplements||$15 – $30||$180 – $360|
|Microchipping||$20 – $30|
|Professional grooming||$50 – $75||$600 – $900|
|Dog walking or day care||$300 – $400||$3600 – $4800|
|Poop bags||$10 – $15||$120 – $180|
|Pet carrier||$40 – $60|
|Pet gate||$25 – $75|
|Car seatbelt or harness||$10 – $30|
|Pet stroller||$99 – $125|
|Training books or device||$15 – $50|
Pet parenting and dog ownership comes with certain expenses that most dog parents do not consider before adopting. This is why many pet parents face challenges after failing to fully understand all of the responsibilities, and costs, of properly caring for their dogs. We get it! When you’re considering becoming a pet parent, you have LOTS of questions so check out our top FAQs here.
To be better prepared and avoid these difficulties, our guide has highlighted some of the major essential costs of owning a dog. In our experience, the optional supplies and accessories that we listed will become apparent once you bring your new doggo home and begin building your bond, relationship and life’s experiences. You probably won’t need to buy these optional supplies and accessories right away (with the exception of a car safety seatbelt or harness), so wait to see where life takes you and your new furry friend and buy later, as needed.
An important practice to consider is pet care budgeting, which will go a long way in helping you stay on top of your dog’s expenses. Ensure that you do your research, compare prices often, and keep track of your expenses for improved budgeting down the road.
It might seem confusing and a bit overwhelming now, but if you are reading this article than you are taking the right steps towards being better prepared as a pet parent! You’ve got this!