How Much is it to Take Care of a Dog? The Cost of Dog Ownership

Bringing a dog home is a heart-warming and exciting phase. But before you adopt a new pet, you must know the cost of raising a doggo. In fact, many aspiring dog parents ask us this question: how much is it to take care of a dog? In this post, we calculate the yearly ballpark of owning a furry friend, from puppyhood to seniorhood. Is your pocket ready? Let’s dive into it!

Why you should know the cost first

According to the ASPCA, the first year of owning a pet will cost your pocket at least $1,000. Over the years, this cost will increase or decrease depending on a range of factors.

Also, being knowledgeable of the actual cost will help you assess if you’re financially ready for the pet. The last thing that you want to happen is surrendering the dog to the shelter because you can’t support its needs. Worse, some dogs are neglected because their owners don’t have enough money to cover the cost of routine vet care and food.

According to ASPCA President & CEO Matthew Bershadker, about 25 million dogs and cats are living in poverty. These are pets under the care of Americans who are living within the poverty line. And as much as these pet owners love their dogs, they are sometimes forced to surrender the animal due to a lack of financial resources.

This is the reason why we deem it important for aspiring pet owners to know the weight of the responsibility of bringing home a dog. It’s not always fun and sparkles. You’d have to deal with the financial responsibility of keeping a healthy and well-raised canine.

The first investment: purchasing a puppy

how much is it to take care of a dog
Photo Credits – Dog Smith

In calculating the cost, let’s start at the moment when you purchased a puppy. A pure-bred dog costs between $500 and $2,000. Although properly bred pups are expensive, it’s a better investment. Take note that puppies from shady breeders will cost you more on vet care in the future. Avoid small-time backyard breeders as much as possible.

For those who are into adoption, shelter dogs will only cost around $50 to $400 tops. You can also chance upon purebreds, though there’s no guarantee. The good thing here, though, is that shelters will conduct vet checks to ensure that the pooch is in good health. But if you want a hardy dog, go for a mutt.

One-time dog expenses

Photo Credits - Dog Smith
Photo Credits – Scratchplay

After getting the dog, you’d have to pay for one-time expenses that include micro-chipping, start-up supplies, neutering/spaying, licensing, and vaccinations.

These one-time expenses will range from $260 to $500, depending on where you’re going to avail the vaccines. Usually, the vet’s office will offer a package price for all the vaccines, which will be and administered on the succeeding weeks.

Aside from that, you also have to purchase start-up supplies for the pup, including leashes, food bowl, crate, toys, and bed. Most of these would have to be changed over the next few years as your pooch grows up.

Training costs

Photo Credits - Scratchplay
Photo Credits – Quick and Dirty Tips

As much as paid training is optional, some pet owners enlist the help of professionals to train their doggos.

Let’s assume that you’re going to avail of basic obedience training. The cost would be around $20 to $30 per class, which can be around $200 to $600 for the entire program. Such training classes will include basic commands.

If you want, you can opt for the American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (AKC CGC) program. This is one of the highly esteemed basic training programs for canines. In fact, many organizations and institutions recognize this certification from AKC.

This program is a five-week, five-session program that costs around $125. Usually, the classes will be scheduled based on the number of interested dog owners at a time. Aside from the training fee, you’d also pay $20 for the testing and certification.

This is way cheaper than private training, though limited in basic skills. Still, it’s a great foundation for your pooch and enough for most domesticated canines.

Yearly food expenses

how much is it to take care of a dog

A large chunk of your yearly expenses in being a pet owner will be allotted to food. Like humans, your pooch needs a consistent supply of healthy and nourishing dog food.

Let’s say you’re purchasing a 25 lb. dog food bag every month for an average cost of $75. In a year, this already costs $900. This is just for the full meals of your dog. The treats aren’t factored in yet.

For the treats, let’s assume you’re purchasing a premium $15 bag with 60 pieces of yummy chews. If you give the treat at an average of twice a day, each bag will last for a month. So $15 multiplied by 12 months is an extra expense of $180.

With this calculation, our ballpark for food expense is $1,080 a year.

Take note that these are just the bare minimum as many dog owners don’t stop with a single bag of treats. Also, if your dog needs a special diet or if you’re buying premium dog food, the cost would be much higher than our estimate. 

Yearly grooming expenses

how much is it to take care of a dog

Aside from feeding your dog, it’s also critical that you have it groomed regularly. We want to emphasize here that the cost of grooming will depend on the breed that you have. Basically, the cost of grooming a Sheepdog is much higher than grooming a Basenji.

You must groom your dog at least once a month. For those who have the tools, they can groom the dog at home to save some bucks. Still, purchasing the equipment will also render a one-time fee.

Let’s assume here that you’re grooming your dog at home and you’re just visiting the professional groomer every quarter. With an average cost of $30 to $90 for standard grooming, it’s safe to say that you’re going to spend $120 to $360 a year for professional grooming.

However, for high-maintenance canines, professional grooming is needed more often. Also, the cost of each visit would be much higher due to the rigorous work that groomers have to do. Some pet owners would have to shell out as much as $1,400 yearly for grooming alone.

Toys and other purchases

Aside from the basic needs, your dog also needs a little fun with toys and additional purchases. This also includes new dog beds, leashes, collars, boots, and other accessories that your dog may need.

You can always improvise with an old tennis ball and old socks. Still, it’s great to spice up playtime with colorful and unique toys that you can purchase in the market. Some dog owners who have the budget to splurge would even subscribe to monthly dog boxes.

If you’re not the splurgy type, you’ll probably spend a measly $25 to $150 on toys per year. This is considered to be a very small amount as compared to other pet owners who spend hundreds of dollars monthly for toys alone.

Nevertheless, higher spending on toys is likely associated with the chewing habits of canines. If you have an intense chewer, you’ll probably spend double than average.

With that, we estimate that an average dog owner would spend around $25 to $300 on toys yearly.

Veterinarian care

If there’s one expense you can’t avoid, it would be vet care. At some point, your doggo would get sick. Take note that medical expenses among sick dogs can cost thousands of dollars.

Since these conditions are quite unpredictable and widely varying among canines, we’ll just focus on routine care.

Regular check-ups would include lab work, dental care, and other basic tests. Based on our experience as a dog owner and the average cost of vet fees nowadays, you have to prepare about $800 to $1,500 a year for routine vet checks.

Take note that this cost will likely increase as your dog ages. Senior dogs are more susceptible to various health problems including arthritis, heart problems, and incontinence.

Medications and health supplies

Aside from the one-time treatments we discussed above, your dog will also need recurring medications to prevent parasites. This includes heartworm, ticks, and fleas treatments. Various products are used for this purpose. However, if the infestation has reached an advanced level, further vet treatments might be needed. This would add up to the cost of the regular medication of your dog.

Based on our estimate, these regular medications would cost you an additional $200 to $400 a year. Still, this is dependent on the size of your dog and the extent of the infestation. But for the sake of estimation, we’re going to assume an average need.

Pet sitting/boarding

If you’re traveling for work or leaving your dog behind during vacations, you’d have to pay for pet sitting or dog boarding. These services are also helpful during emergencies when you have to travel out of town.

On average, pet sitting will cost you about $100 to $300 a year. However, if you often travel for work, this cost would double.

A stay-in pet sitter would cost more than dog boarding. Nevertheless, both of these options are much cost-efficient as bringing your dog to your travels. Pet couriers and documentation would cost you thousands of dollars in one destination alone.

Emergency expenses

Lastly, we have to factor in some emergency expenses. This includes unscheduled visits to the vet, a change in diet, additional medications, and so on. During your dog’s life, unexpected expenses will occur.

These emergencies are often health-related. Dogs that develop chronic illnesses and caught in accidents will require immediate and costly vet care.

Take note that a surgical procedure will cost you an instant $2,000 or more. And if your pet gets confined in the ICU, the total cost would balloon to $5,000.

Still, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to experience such a dilemma when you own a dog. Some pet owners are lucky enough to not experience any of it until their pooches cross the rainbow bridge.

So for emergency costs, we’re going to cap it at $2,000 per year. It’s just a financial cushion just in case your dog will need further treatments.

How much is it to take care of a dog yearly?

With the calculation above, here are the itemized expenses that you’d have to spend on each year when you own a dog:

EXPENSESCOST (Average dog owner)
Purchasing the puppy$500 to $2000 (one-time)
One-time dog expenses$260 to $500 (one-time)
Training$125 to $600
Food & treats$1,080
Grooming $120 to $360
Toys, beds, & others$25 to $300
Veterinarian care$800 to $1,500
Medication and health supplies$200 to $400
Pet sitting & boarding$100 to $300
Emergency & miscellaneous expenses Approx. $2,000

All of these, excluding the cost of the puppy, one-time expense, and emergency expenses, will cost a dog owner about $2,340 to $4,540 yearly. We didn’t add the cost of the puppy and one-time expenses because you’ll only for these only once. Meanwhile, we also excluded the emergency expense since it’s quite unpredictable.

The average monthly cost of owning a dog: $195 to $379

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What are the cheapest dogs to buy?

A: Some of the cheapest breeds are Pugs, Miniature Pinschers, Russell Terrier, and English Setters. You can find a purebred dog out of these breeds for a low cost. Usually, low-cost purebreds will charge you about $500 a pup.

Q: Can I just groom my dog at home all the time?

A: Visiting a professional groomer once every quarter is advisable so the groomer can clean the parts you’ve missed on your dog. It’s always great to have the experts take a good look at your dog.

Q: Can I get a puppy for free?

A: Yes, you can find shelters who can give puppies for free. However, there’s no guarantee that the pup is in good health.

Final words

So how much is it to take care of a dog? Above, we gave a ballpark calculation of the cost of owning a dog. It’s just a rough estimate to give you an idea about the financial responsibility you’d face if you decided to bring home a puppy.