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Total cost of dog ownership

We love the idea of owning a dog. That cute face, soft fur, and playful personality are great, but if that sweet pup gets into the something they shouldn’t, the vet bills can be expensive. Not only that but the basics like food, toys, and dog sitters add up quickly. So, before you run to the nearest adoption center, here are some items to consider when determining the cost of owning a dog.

Dog Health and Wellness

Owning a dog is about more than long walks and playtime. The first year costs add up to about $1,000 according to the ASPCA and include one-time expenses like adoption fees ($0-$600 according to Rover), the initial vet visit ($70), and spaying or neutering ($200). Other first year expenses include a collar and leash ($30), crate ($95 or more, depending on the size of the dog), and dog training (average of $110 for the basics). To offset some of the initial healthcare costs, there are programs available through cities or counties, veterinarians, or rescue agencies for financed, discounted, or even free procedures. So, it’s worth it to do your research.

In addition to the initial costs, there are monthly and annual costs to consider like a pet license ($15-40), vet visits ($250), pet insurance ($360-600), flea and tick prevention ($40-200), and heartworm prevention ($40-120). If they love to get into trouble when you’re not around to supervise, you may find yourself at the vet for exams and x-rays to make sure your pet hasn’t ingested something that will make them ill or worse. In extreme cases, dogs may require surgery.

As your dog ages, they may need vet visits in addition to their annual check-up, medication for conditions like arthritis, and dental cleaning or surgery. You may need to adjust your personal budget for pet spending for treating chronic conditions or illnesses.

Dog Food and Treats

Specialty diets can cost about $60 per bag, compared to basic dog food at $25-40 per bag. Dog owners may opt to make homemade pet food and treats and the cost will vary depending on the ingredients selected. Tip: Check with your vet to be sure you’re including the essential ingredients your pet needs to stay healthy.

Other pet food supplies to consider:

  • Initial purchase of food and water bowls varies ($10-$50) depending on the type and style. Ex. Automatic water bowls are more expensive than a stainless steel bowl.
  • Monthly food costs vary ($25-120) depending on the type of food and age of the dog (puppy, adult, senior).
  • Monthly treat costs vary ($10-$30) depending on the quality and quantity. Basic milk bones are less expensive than grain-free training treats and dental chews.

Dog Grooming and Supplies

Depending on the breed of your dog, they will require different grooming and supplies. Most breeds require a minimum of weekly brushing and monthly bathing to keep their fur from matting and body odor to a minimum. Shampoo and brushes can cost $5-10 each. An extension on your shower head to makes it easy to wash your dog costs $15 and saves your back from bending over the tub for too long.

A professional groomer costs $30-100 per visit depending on location and services. They will be able to clip nails and trim fur—two tasks many owners would rather not do themselves—in addition to washing and brushing. Tip: If your dog is going under anesthesia for any reason, ask the vet if they can clip nails and clean teeth. Not only can this save you money, it saves your dog the stress.

Other Dog Care Considerations

Additional considerations related to the total cost of dog ownership include:

  • Dog sitting ($20-40 per night)
  • Routine teeth cleaning/scaling ($200-500)
  • Pet deposit at your rental home ($200-600) and pet rent ($30 per month)
  • Potty pads ($16-35) and poop bags ($6-20)
  • Stain remover ($10)
  • Harness ($50) and seatbelt for safe travel ($20-40)
  • Microchipping ($45-75)

Health Insurance for Dogs

Pet insurance eases the burden of unforeseen healthcare expenses, like when my friend’s dog ate a box of chocolates and needed medical care. According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association (NAPHIA), the average accident and illness premium for dogs in 2017 was $535 annually (or $44.58 per month). Most pet insurance covers catastrophic events for new injuries and illnesses, and some companies offer wellness and routine care options. Tip: Figo’s interactive calculator allows you to estimate the costs for your dog (or cat) for veterinarian bills, deductibles, and out of pocket expenses with and without insurance.

Research pet products, including pet insurance, and find the best options for your dog and your personal budget. Read through the policy terms prior to signing the contract so you understand the terms and conditions.

Conclusion

As you think about the prospect of getting a dog, it’s important to consider the total cost of dog ownership including the initial, annual, and monthly costs. The first-year cost of owning a dog averages $1,000 with ongoing annual fees of $500 or more. Review your current family budget and estimate the impact of the expense of owning a dog.

If you decide now is the time to get a dog, we encourage you to find a veterinarian to establish a relationship for routine visits, and a family plan for feeding, exercise, and grooming. While there is a cost, there’s also a great reward when your dog wags its tails every time he sees you!


Anne McAuley Lopez is a professional blogger and the founder of Blogging Badass. Since 2010, she has worked with clients to create content that tells the story of their business and connects them to their target market. It could be argued that she knows entirely too much about termites, retirement planning, court reporting, Alaskan fishing and mining, and social media—which makes her a great blogger and trivia night partner. When she’s not showing off her mad skillz, Anne can be found spending time with her husband, watching romantic comedies, eating tacos, or walking her dog.

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