Americans love their dogs.
At present, 69 million households own a canine companion. And many of those are new members of the family. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, 30% of homes adopted some kind of pet — many of them dogs.
Bringing a dog into your home can be an exciting time! But, if you’re a new pet owner (or are thinking of becoming one), you may be wondering how to plan financially.
You want to take care of your furry family member. But what services do they need? How much does that cost? And how can you save money as a new dog owner?
The first twelve months of owning a dog bring a number of upfront costs. You’ll need to cover the fees for adopting your dog, ensuring your dog is healthy and safe, and procuring the items he or she will need.
Costs vary, based on your dog, your location, and the specific products and services you choose. In general though, plan to cover these expenses:
If you’re adopting from a shelter, you’ll likely pay $50 - $200. Buying from a pet store? Count on a price tag of about $1000. If you work with a breeder, you’ll pay several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the breed of dog you choose.
To keep your pup safe, consider inserting a microchip. These run around $50.
Spaying or neutering
When you rescue a shelter dog or re-home a pet, spaying or neutering may already be done for you. But, if your dog requires the procedure, expect to pay $35 to $400.
Initial vet visit
Shelters or breeders may cover some of these costs for you. But you’ll want to ensure your dog has a veterinary exam (or several for a puppy), all necessary vaccinations, and all preventative care recommended by your medical professional. Expect to pay $70 - $300.
Gear for your dog’s home
You’ll likely want — at a minimum — some dog bowls, a bed, and a crate. Plan to pay $100 to several hundred, depending on the quality and number of items you buy.
Gear for walking your dog
Heading out for a stroll? You’ll need harnesses or leashes, collars, and tags. The total cost varies depending on the quality and number of items you buy, but you can expect to pay at least $30.
The options for training run at different price points. You might choose a group class, one-on-one training, or even a boot camp kennel. And costs increase if you’re looking to train an animal for service, support, or protection. Expect a minimum of $30 per class with costs increasing from there.
Once you’re past the set-up costs for your new pet, you’ll need to ensure you take care of ongoing expenses. Here’s how those will likely look:
Food is a significant chunk of every dog owner’s budget. To pay for meals and treats, plan to spend $250 to $700 each year, depending on your dog’s breed and size.
If you use professional groomers, you’ll regularly need services like bathing, hair cutting, and nail trimming. Look for an annual cost between $30 and $500.
To keep your dog healthy, you’ll want to follow your vet’s recommended preventative care measures. That will likely include check-ups, vaccines, lab work, and treatments for fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Look to pay $200 to $600 annually, depending on your dog’s health and age.
Preventative dental care is an important part of your dog’s well-being. Cleanings typically range from $300 to $700. Specialized treatments and extractions can add $1000 or more to that bill.
Insurance for your pet’s medical needs is optional. You can certainly choose to pay costs out of pocket. But, if you buy a pet insurance policy, expect to pay about $50 a month for your dog.
Licensing your dog with your local government will typically run you $5 to $20 per year.
Day care and pet walking
Need some help while you’re at work? Doggy day care will likely run you $12 to $38 per day. Dog walkers charge, on average, $20 for a single walk with your pup.
Buying new toys or replacing old ones? The total cost depends on how big your dog’s toy chest is. Each dog toy usually costs $8 to $20.
In addition to the standard expenses most dog owners pay, you may find that the following costs are necessary for your dog or your lifestyle:
To keep your dog safely in your yard, you may need to install a physical fence or invisible fence. Costs vary, depending on the type and length of fence used.
Emergency medical care
During its life, your dog may require treatment for an injury, surgery, or even a stay in the ICU. An emergency visit can run several hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars without pet insurance.
As your dog grows, you’ll likely need to replace some items you bought when you first got your dog — his bed, leash, toys, and more. Costs depend on the quality of items you buy and how often they need to be swapped out.
Boarding or pet sitting
If you’re out of town without your pet, you’ll need to pay for accommodations. Boarding your dog typically runs $40 - $60 a night. If you choose a pet sitter, you can pay for full-time pet-sitting or several visits per day. Expect to pay about $100 per day.
Hotel pet fees
Taking your dog with you on vacation? A number of hotels let your pet stay for free. Others charge anywhere from $30 to $100 per night for your dog’s stay.
Apartment pet fees
If you rent your home, your landlord might charge a non-refundable pet fee or a refundable pet deposit of $100 - $500. Alternatively, you could be billed pet rent at $10 - $100 per month.
Dogs can add to the work of keeping your home clean. You may want to invest in specialized products to remove dog hair or clean up pet stains. Or you may wind up hiring professionals — like carpet cleaners — to do a deep clean from time to time.
Forbes puts the lifetime cost of owning a dog, conservatively at a minimum of $18,000. However, your own dog expenses may be significantly higher. A dog with severe medical problems, for instance, could wind up costing you close to $100,000 over the course of its lifetime.
So how can you reduce those costs? Try these tips for keeping your dog happy and healthy for less:
Create a pet budget. Put pet costs directly into your monthly spending plan.
Save in a dedicated savings fund. Open an account for planned pet expenses, plus extra to cover unanticipated costs.
Prioritize preventative care. Good healthcare upfront saves you costly procedures in the long run and keeps your pet in tip-top physical form.
Take the DIY approach. Consider handling some grooming or training on your own. Walk your dog instead of hiring a pro. And take him with you, when possible, instead of paying for boarding or a sitter.
Buy in bulk. Go for the value-sized bag of kibble or look into a dog food delivery service.
Comparison shop. Big-ticket items like food and medication can vary greatly in price. Shop around to ensure you’re getting the best deal on your purchase.
While it’s difficult to put a price on the unconditional love that comes from a dog, adding a furry family member does come at a cost. But, with some advanced planning, you can prepare for the financial side of owning a dog. And your family will reap the priceless rewards of having a pet you love.