I have a sweet dog named Charley, and he’s my favorite. He’s the co-star of my Instagram, my constant companion, and my comic relief. He wasn’t meant to be a therapy dog, but he’s basically become one–just a few minutes with him and any anxiety I’m dealing with just melts. I never had any pets growing up, so I didn’t have the opportunity to know the love and bond that’s possible between a human and a dog. In the past two and a half years with my guy, I’ve been blown away by how deeply I love all nine pounds of his cuteness and the massive impact he’s made on my life. Since I’ve graduated from college, he’s literally been my only constant. There was a while when it was just me and Charley against the world! Now that I’m married, he perfectly rounds out our little family with his endless kisses and cuddles.
I could go on for hours, but in an effort to stay on-topic, here’s the reality: as wonderful as they are, dogs cost money. They cost time, attention, and energy, too, but they cost a lot of money. I’ve had several readers ask me to outline the financial cost of owning a dog since they were considering a furry addition to their family, but wanted an honest breakdown first. Let’s get started!
Please remember that these are my estimations based on my experience. Use common sense and adjust where necessary. All items are linked to the item(s) most similar to what I have.
One Time Costs
There are some costs associated with dogs that aren’t recurring. (Or, if they are, they’re very infrequent.) I’ve outlined those below. Please note that I have not included an adoption fee or the cost of purchase from a breeder because that can vary so much–you’ll need to add that in based on your plan.
- Crate: $25+/-, depending on dog’s size
- Food and water bowls: $12
- Group of starter toys: $25+/-, depending on what you buy
- Bed: $20+/-, depending on size and quality
- Brush: $15
- Collar: $10
- Collar tag: $5
- Rope leash: $10
- Retractable leash: $12
- Travel carrier: $40
- Doggy carseat: $35
- Microchip: $45
- Spay/Neuter: $200+/-, depending on dog’s size, the clinic, etc.–this estimation includes associated meds and Elizabethan collar
- Apartment pet deposit: $200+/-
- For puppy owners, puppy vaccinations: cost can vary widely; call a local vet for an accurate estimation
- Apartment pet rent: $20
- Food: $23+/-, depending on dog’s size
- Grooming: $60+/-, depending on breed, frequency can also vary
- Flea/tick prevention: $30+/-
- Peanut butter (given as a treat when Charley goes in his crate): $4
- Treats: $10
- Chew bones: $11
- Heartworm prevention: $40
- Poop bag dispenser: $4, mine tend to break about every six months
- New toys: $20+/-, depending on what you buy
- Vet check-up: $50+/-, depending on vaccinations/medications/procedures needed
- Shampoo: $8
- Stain remover: $6 (if you have a puppy, you will go through a bottle of this every couple of weeks!)
- Dog-sitter (I use Rover): $25+/-/night
- Unexpected vet visits: $50+/- (I usually have to take Charley into the vet unexpectedly about twice a year for various reasons. Sometimes, everything is fine, and it’s about $50 for the check-up, other times, tests and medications are required, which have totaled over $500.)
- Training classes: $30+/-/class
- Flight boarding passes for dogs: $150+/-/round-trip flight
- For puppy owners: replacing chewed/ruined items (shoes, carpet, furniture, etc.)
Costs To Consider
These are costs that you may want to consider; I have not personally incurred them.
- Invisible or physical fence
- Dog walking service
- Baby gates
- Doggy clothing and accessories
I estimate that we spend about $900-$1100 annually on Charley now–the cost varies based on the year, Charley’s health, our circumstances and travel, etc. In his first year, I estimate that I spent about $1700-$2200.
For everything I get in return, the cost of dog ownership is completely worth it to me. That being said, if you’re considering a dog, make sure that you do not underestimate the financial responsibility of owning a dog or raising a puppy. It is significant! Not to mention the time and energy you’ll have to pour into your new family member as well as the sacrifices you’ll have to make. Getting a dog is nothing like buying a goldfish or picking up a new plant. It’s life-changing. Life-changing in some really amazing ways (cuddles! long walks together! a constant companion!) and in some really challenging ways as well, like completely rethinking your schedule or cutting back in other areas to afford a dog’s expenses.
If you are thinking about adding a furbaby to your life, I would recommend saving money–at least $1500, in my opinion–first. That way, you’ll be prepared for both the expected and the unexpected expenses when they come. Because dogs are living things, they are unpredictable. Some months, I spend almost no money on my little guy, but other months, he’s pricey! Having cash on hand will come in handy when your dog swallows something he shouldn’t, breaks out in a rash, or needs medication for an ear infection.
There you have it–my breakdown of the cost of dog ownership! As I said, this will vary based on your dog, your location, and your preferences. Hope it was helpful!
// How much do you estimate that you spend on your dog each year?
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Not a dog but because we get good wet food for our cats (no dry food for them – it can cause urinary tract issues), my roommate and I probably spend around $70 a month in food for our two cats.
But when my kitten sits on my lap and purrs away it’s all worth it!
Blair Lamb says
Aww, totally get that! 🙂 Thanks for reading!
Pamela Reed says
I love how you went into depth with this. I know it’s going to help many future dog owners! A friend of mine was just talking about the cost of a pet a few days ago so now I can link her on this. We have 5 cats… I don’t want to add up the costs! 😛
Blair Lamb says
Ahh, 5 cats–I’m sure you know ALL about pet expenses! 😉 Thanks for reading!
Rachel Gault (@rachelgault) says
So nice to see a breakdown! I try not to think about the expenses because they can be crazy. But so agree that they’re worth it! Would love to hear more about your experience with Rover!
Blair Lamb says
I know, the expenses can definitely add up. Rover has been so awesome. I’ve found two wonderful petsitters through the site that we use all the time!
Mere Salazar says
This is a wonderful post! 🙂 Granted here in Peru it’s probably different, but that was helpful to know! I realllllly want a puppy, but we definitely need to save first… and decide whether we want to save up for a dog or baby or moving back to the USA! Newlywed life, huh?! 😉 Thanks for sharing this. Every time I see pictures of Charley I get all “aww I want a puppy!” all over again.
Blair Lamb says
Aww, I totally know the puppy/baby/moving conundrum! Even if you’re not able to get a puppy soon, I hope you can later in life! There will always be plenty of dogs to go around! 😉 Thanks for reading and commenting, Mere!
Pups are definitely a large expense, but I can’t imagine never having one now that I’ve had one!
Blair Lamb says
Nice post! I didn’t even think about replacing furniture, flooring and other items which will intevitably get trashed with puppy ownership when I wrote my post about this http://www.timeforpaws.co.uk/blog/hidden-costs-owning-dog/ but really should have to be honest, your list is far more comprehensive! I was thinking of getting a Husky puppy, but perhaps as I’ve just spent many thousands on new furniture and lovely wooden floors it perhaps would be a bad idea 🙁
Let me start by saying that I love my corgi to pieces and pieces and he is the true companion in my life, but there are costs beyond what you have listed. First off, in Canada, our costs for things are way higher than what you have listed. My little Eddie got sick with a lifetime immune disease at 1 yr old. The cause? Over-vaccination + Heartworm meds all in one month. He has , up to now cost me over $13,000 & he is going to be 4 yrs old in July. These are only medical bills. Not included are all of the above plus the cost of purchasing him. Like I said. I would NOT trade him for the world. But it’s a sacrifice that you must figure in — just in case.
Blair Lamb says
As I said in my post, these are my estimations based on my experience (which is in the US). I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to spend so many thousands on your pup! But I’m glad you have such a loving companion. I get that completely!