To answer the question, “How much does it cost to own a dog,” we looked at several factors, including those one-time initial costs (like spaying or neutering) and recurring expenses like dog food and grooming.
Although several factors come into play — the dog’s age and size, where you live, your lifestyle, and your dog’s needs — when you calculate the “real” cost of dog ownership, the following figures can give you a glimpse at typical expenses you can expect.
Of course, the benefits of dog ownership far outweigh the costs — how can you measure the love, affection and entertainment your pets give back? Priceless!
Fixed Costs of Having a Dog
Whether you buy a dog from a breeder or adopt one from a shelter, you’ll have an initial set of expenses. You can incur several one-time expenses (also known as fixed costs) such as vaccinations, microchipping, spaying, neutering, and so on. You’ll also need to get new dog supplies, especially if this is your first pup — bowls, bed, leash and collar, crate/kennel, grooming tools and, of course, toys.
- Adoption fees: $50-$200
- Breeder fees: $500-$2,000+
- Basic puppy vaccinations: $75-$100
- Spaying/neutering: $150-700
- Microchipping/registration: $25-$50
- Obedience training: $50 a class/hour, obedience training schools $200-$600 per week, and kennel training (boot camp style) $500-$1,250 per week for four to six weeks
- Misc. supplies: about $200
- First-aid kit for pets: $100-$125
Average Cost of Dog Food Per Month x 12
Even the smallest dog can eat an impressive amount of food each year. Between high-quality food (human or dog) and healthy dog treats, you can anticipate spending around $20 to $60 per month or $250 to $700 a year.
Average Cost of Vet Visit x Number of Visits Per Year
- Wellness checks: After a puppy’s first year, dogs need a vet visit once or twice a year for wellness checkups that’ll cost about $200 to $300 annually. Your vet might suggest routine lab work to check for heartworms and other common canine ailments, which cost around $100 to $300 annually. Because these visits and tests are the best way to ensure your pet’s health and well-being, you should never skip them.
- Dental checks: Tooth and gum cleanings, if needed, can average $300 to $800; on the other hand, tooth extractions can cost $800 to $3,000. An ounce of prevention goes a long way — regular dental visits can prevent the need for expensive dental work and also protect your pets from tooth-related health issues.
- Preventive medications: Another component of regular pet healthcare is preventive medications and supplements that prevent parasites like heartworms, fleas, and ticks. Depending on your dog’s size and specific needs, costs run around $100 to $300 a year.
- Vaccinations: Depending on local ordinances, your dog must have rabies and bordetella vaccine boosters every few years after their initial shots; boosters average $15 to $45.
Cost of Dog Grooming Per Month x 12
- Hair and coat maintenance: Your pets’ grooming needs depend on their types of hair and coat. Short-haired or smooth-coated dogs typically require only basic attention that you can do yourself at home. Dogs with wavy, curly, or long (and constantly growing) hair require regular shampoos, brushings, and trims. Monthly professional grooming ranges from $30 to $100 a visit (don’t forget to include the tip in your calculations).
- Nail trimming or grinding: Don’t forget nail trims. Unless your dog spends a lot of time outside on pavement that naturally files its nails, you’ll need to do monthly or bi-monthly nail trims, which run about $15 per trim.
- Ear cleaning: Most dogs have naturally clean and healthy ears, but some, especially dogs with long-hanging ears, might need your help. Ask your vet where your dog falls on the ear-cleaning-needs spectrum. You can clean your dogs’ ears or take your dog to a professional groomer who will charge around $10 to $15 to clean ears.
The good news is grooming is an area where you can DIY to save some bucks.
Ways to save on dog grooming by doing it yourself
Not only can grooming your dog at home can save you money, but it gives you another opportunity to bond with your pet. However, before you take the kitchen shears to your dog’s fur, you’ll need to purchase appropriate dog grooming tools and get the know-how to ensure safety. Check out the BarxBuddy Dog Grooming Guide for helpful tips.
Average Cost of Kenneling, Dog Sitting, and Walking Services
Do you work long hours? Got a family vacation planned? If you need to hire someone to help care for your dog, review our related post on the best dog walking apps and care services.
- Dog walking: A dog walker will charge you on average $20 per walk. One walk each day Monday through Friday for a month will cost you about $433 (don’t forget the tip).
- House sitting: Independent house sitting or overnight pet sitting is another option you can find through many apps like Rover and Care.com. Many factors — location, number of pets, time, and responsibilities — go into how much services cost. Prices can run from $20 to over $100 per night.
- Kenneling: While private pet sitters offer individual attention, kenneling and boarding are less expensive alternatives when you need to leave your pet behind and don’t have a family member or friend to watch your dog. This type of service can range from about $100 to $300 or more per stay, depending on how often you travel and the length of time your dog is boarded.
More good news: Many hotels, airlines and car rental companies recognize that dogs are family members too, so they offer pet-friendly options for travelers. The website BringFido.com includes a database of dog-friendly destinations.
Miscellaneous Monthly or Annual Dog Expenses
- Pet insurance: To offset emergency and unexpected medical expenses as your pet ages, some vets and financial experts recommend pet insurance. Many factors affect how much your pet insurance premiums are, including the company, your dog’s breed, health issues, type of coverage, where you live, and whether you have multiple pet coverage. In 2019, the average pet insurance policy was $48.78 a month or $585.36 a year, according to Business Insider.
- Licensing: Most locales require you to initially license your pet and maintain a license as long as your pet resides in the area. Licensing can run you about $10 a year.
- Misc supplies: These can be hidden costs — those little toys you pick up when you shop for dog food, fashion accessories so they have a “leash for all seasons and occasions,” and other rewards and nonessentials. If this is something you regularly spend money on, then factor that into your budget.
Overall, the average monthly cost of owning a dog ranges from $125 to $825 a month, or $1,500 to over $9,000 a year. The amount of love she/he will bring into your life, however, is priceless.