How Much does It Cost to Own a Dog?

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  • Last Modified Date: 04 February 2020
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Before buying a dog, it’s a good idea for prospective owners to evaluate the costs — both financial and time. To be a responsible owner of a pet, you really need to decide if you are prepared to meet these costs. Even if you’re offered a free puppy, owning a dog is not free. When you own a dog responsibly, you agree to take on a variety of costs, including paying for food, veterinarian bills, general supplies, training, and other expenses.

First off, you have basic care and feeding if you own a dog. There is inexpensive dog food, but some dogs may require special diets, and overall, most dogs fare better on pricier dog food with better ingredients. Expect to pay about $30-50 US Dollars (USD) a month for food for a medium sized dog.

You’ll need to buy a few things as soon as you get the dog, including a dog crate, especially if the dog is untrained. These can cost about $50-150 USD, depending on the size of the animal. You’ll need a leash, food bowls, bedding, and fencing for any outdoor areas. Young dogs frequently need behavior training too, so if you’re not experienced at training a dog, you may need to take classes. A class at a Parks and Recreation Center may charge about $50-150 USD, and if you use dog behavior classes at a dog trainer facility, this can cost $1,000 USD.


Don’t forget the cost of puppy or young dog damage on your house and furniture. Until a dog is properly trained, they may urinate on your rugs, floors, or furniture, and they may chew up items you need. If you have carpet, you may have to invest in several carpet cleanings, costing $100-200 USD, before a dog is reliably trained. Most puppies aren’t considered fully reliable until they are about six months to a year old, and small dogs, because of their small bladders, may always be slightly unreliable.

So initially, even if you don’t pay a cent to acquire a dog, you can expect to pay anywhere from $600 USD a year in food, about $100-200 USD for basic dog supplies, and anywhere from $50 to over $1,000 USD for behavior training, plus about $200 USD in cleaning. Additionally, check with your local animal control department regarding the cost to license your dog. The first year’s costs could be about $950-$2,000 USD for basic care alone.

This is just the beginning if you own a dog. You must provide veterinary care, including vaccinations, dental checks, yearly examinations, and spaying or neutering. Don’t forget flea treatment medication (about $10-15 USD per month), plus heartworm medication (about $10 USD per month). Minimal vet care including a yearly teeth cleaning, exams, vaccination, flea treatment and heartworm meds will cost about $500-1,000 USD. Moreover, any dog can be prone to accidents, injury, ingesting a dangerous substance, which means you may have to be prepared to pay for emergency care, which can easily exceed $1,000 USD in a single visit. You may be able to purchase pet health insurance to help control these costs.

As dogs age many of them develop health conditions that require more frequent vet visits. Some get diabetes, some get cancer, and some develop heart or respiratory conditions. These conditions can dramatically increase average vet care bills.

The cost of time in raising an animal is significant. While it may seem like a great idea to own a dog, consider what to do when you vacation or how much time you actually spend at home or with your dog. If you are hardly ever home and you can’t take your dog with you to work, then the cost to the dog may be too great. Dogs are by nature social creatures, and will be better behaved when they get greater interaction with you. You can hire a dog walker, but that will add even more money to your bill. If you haven’t got time to take Rover or Spot for a walk each day, groom them, play with them and treat them well, then maybe the cost to the dog is too significant.

Over the lifetime of the dog, you can expect to pay about $1,500-3,000 USD per year for all care needs, and more as a dog ages and needs greater health care. You may also want to consider if you rent whether you will have a more difficult time finding a new home if you move, and what type of pet deposits you may need to pay in order to keep your animal.


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Post 13

My dad used to say that a dog on his own in the wild does just fine, so he didn't see any reason for vaccinations and medication when we got a dog. She had puppies, and one of them got parvo and died. That made him change his mind.

After that, we took the mother to the vet and got her vaccinated yearly. He still wasn't willing to invest in other preventive medications, but at least we knew she wouldn't get rabies or some other deadly illness.

I think that he had this reasoning because my parents, my sister, and I didn't have much money to live on at the time. After he started making more money and got another dog years later, he did everything that people normally do medically for their dogs. Years ago, he simply couldn't justify spending a lot on the dog when the family was in need.

Post 12

@giddion – I have four dogs, and something that has helped me cut down on the cost is buying really good flea and tick collars in the spring that are supposed to last six months. This is cheaper than buying six months of medication for four big dogs, and it works.

Also, the collars are waterproof, so even if they take a dip in the pond, they will still work. However, some medications can wash off in water, particularly the kind you squirt on their backs. These are the most expensive kind, and that would be such a waste!

Post 11

I acquired five dogs after moving out into the country, where people dropped off starving animals on my road. Unable to turn them away, I had to figure out a way to take care of them that wouldn't break the bank.

I feed them dogfood that isn't the most expensive, but it isn't the cheapest, either. I want them to get all the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Also, my vet said it was okay to give them liquid ivermectin that is used for cattle, so long as I give them the correct dosage for their body weight. She gave me a syringe with measurements on it and told me how much to give each of them. The bottle is only fifteen dollars, and it lasts for about a year.

Ivermectin in tablet form for dogs can cost $50 for a six-month supply for a large dog. I have five large dogs, so I just can't afford this.

Post 10

@anon90701 – Young people rarely take into account the average cost to own a dog. I have a young couple with three kids for neighbors, and they have two dogs that they keep chained to trees and never take to the vet for anything.

They wouldn't even get them spayed and neutered. So, all kinds of dog fights are going on over there while the dog is in heat. The male dog broke free from his chain and tore into some of the other dogs, probably sending them to the vet, if their owners cared enough to take them.

The female recently gave birth to puppies, nine of which died, probably because the mother had received no flea, tick

, or heartworm prevention or vaccinations in her life. Now, she is so thin I can see her spine and ribs, and she walks slowly with a limp. All of this happened because the owners didn't want to spend any money on their original dogs!
Post 9

Party pooper! You never once said anything positive about getting dogs! It's like saying dogs are annoying and that people should not own one!

Post 7

I never there was so much to getting a dog, especially the cost. This site helped me out. thanks.

Post 6

I know a house of university students that own five dogs collectively, none of which have adequate care/attention. Three of them are locked in the basement all day (not in cages), and one is locked on a balcony for up to 24 hours at a stretch. They get walked about twice a week for 10 minutes or so. Wish there were something I could say to them.

Post 5

Agreed you are a party pooper. Animals bring a great deal of love to a family's life. I think that is well worth its price. Anyone who doesn't take into account that this is going to be a financial investment wouldn't be looking for information in the first place.

Post 4

I'm giving a speech on how everybody should really look into getting a dog and this article really helped me get some great research. Thanks!

Post 2

Anon61169- I can see where you're coming from, but I would argue that emotional impact is usually the first consideration when it comes to getting a pet. People often don't think about the practical details, which is the focus of the question.

Unfortunately, when practical details like cost are not considered, animals pay the price. Dogs may either be sent to a pound or go without needed care when owners aren't able to really care for them financially.

I love my dog! But I wouldn't have gotten her if I didn't feel certain I was prepared to fully take care of her from a financial point of view.


Post 1

What a party pooper you are! Not once in this financial article did I see a value for the emotional impact a dog has on a person or family.

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