How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

You may not think about the cost of dog ownership when you are thinking and planning of owning a canine friend. You might be too caught up in the plans you have for your new pet and how it will change your life for the better. However, the cost can be substantial, and if you are not prepared for it, then you might be surprised by how much the expenses will add up to.

Obviously, not every kind of dog will cost the same and not every pet owner will pay the same in pet care costs for their dog. Some people will be more extravagant in their spending, trying to get the very best for their dog. Others will be more conservative and cut costs where they can while still trying to take care of their dog as much as possible.

Typical Costs for Dog Care

Each year, taking care of your dog will likely cost over $1,000. This estimate comes courtesy of the ASPCA, and it gives you a fair idea of what to expect. Can you fit that extra expense into your budget? If not, then you may want to plan ahead before you get a dog or consider other options.

This $1,000 or more estimate includes all the food you give your pet, including treats from time to time. It also includes the cost of sheltering your dog, such as buying it a doghouse or providing a sleeping area for it inside your home. The estimate also covers the cost of grooming equipment, collar and tags, a leash and other small purchases you will need to make for your pet.

If you can budget out at least $1,000 for your dog for the year, factoring in higher upfront costs, then you should be alright. Remember that it will cost you more initially, as you prepare a place for your dog to stay and get your dog settled into its new home. After those initial expenses, you mostly just have to pay for the cost of food and occasional veterinarian visits.

Breakdown the cost

Let’s break down some of these costs. According to the same ASPCA data, it costs about $120 a year to feed your dog. That’s figuring that you give your dog packaged dog food each day, as well as the occasional canned food. This is just the average price, so some people find ways to save money here and give their dog table scraps or other food that doesn’t cost them extra money. Others make food especially for their dog or buy specialty food, so, you’ll want to factor in the kind of diet you would like to give your pet.

The cost of regular veterinarian care for most dogs is about $235. This covers your annual vet visit. You may also want to get a dog license, which is about $15, and pay for pet insurance, which is another $230. The insurance may seem unnecessary, but it can save you money in the long run by covering veterinarian expenses that you would not be able to afford very easily on your own.

Consider your one-time expenses as well, like spaying or neutering, which can cost close to $200. Doing this can save you money in the long run, as it prevents the added expense of puppies and keeps your dog healthier.

You may also want to pay for training for your dog, which can run close to $100, and a carry crate for transporting your dog, which is also close to $100, depending on the size of your dog.

With all the other small costs that add up throughout the year, you end up with a grand total of just over $1,000, but you’ll have to decide for yourself which of those costs are necessary and whether you want to spend more or less on your pet.

The Unexpected Costs

Sometimes, it can cost far more to take care of your pet than you expect. If your dog has any health problems, then repeated veterinarian visits and medication can really add up. Some people pay thousands of dollars a year to care for their ill pet, and if you are thinking about getting a dog, then you need to take its health into consideration. Older dogs and those with known health problems are financial risks. They cost more to care for than your average dog, and you need to be prepared to deal with the additional costs.

Pet insurance can help you prepare for unexpected costs, but it is an expense on its own. You may also need to pay for transportation or shelter costs for your dog if you are going to be traveling. Whether you take your dog with you or leave it at a pet shelter, there is some added expense involved. The cheapest thing to do is to leave your pet to be cared for by a friend or relative as you travel.

One thing to keep in mind is that the first year of dog ownership is the most expensive. Once you get those initial settling in costs taken care of, then it’s fairly inexpensive to keep up with the costs for your dog. If you take your pet for regular veterinarian visits, then you can keep costs down as well, catching problems early or preventing them entirely to avoid major vet bills in the future.

About the author: Ron Wolff is a content editor at – a site for happy, healthy, and adventurous dogs who are fuelled by nature.



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