How Much Does It Really Cost to Own a Dog?
How much for that doggy in the window? Some dog owners may tell you their pets are priceless. In terms of the unconditional love and happiness dogs can bring into their owners’ lives, that may be the case!
But the truth is that the costs of owning a dog can add up, from food to leashes to veterinary visits. That’s why it’s a good idea to estimate all the typical expenses of pet ownership before you bring a dog into your home. Here are some of the costs potential doggy moms and dads should think about.
If you get the pup from a breeder, the costs vary widely. The average purebred puppy may set you back $1,250, according to WalletHub.com, but breeds such as a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel may top $3,800. Consider asking your veterinarian or pet-owning friends for a referral to a responsible breeder, or reaching out to a local breed club for a recommendation, The Humane Society of the United States says.
Rather than a breeder, some folks get their pets from shelters and other rescue organizations.
“Shelter adoption fees can vary state to state,” says Dr. Cristie Kamiya, a veterinarian for Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV). “Ours range from $175 for an adult animal to $350 for a puppy.” She adds that shelter adoption tends to be a good value, as most shelters include spay or neuter services, microchipping and some vaccines. “If you paid for these services separately at your veterinarian’s office, you’d be spending considerably more,” Kamiya says.
Spay or neuter surgeries average $180, according to WalletHub.com, though shelters or rescue groups occasionally hold free or low-cost spay or neuter clinics. While core vaccine costs vary depending on where you live, at HSSV each of the recommended vaccines for puppies is about $15 to $25. Implanting a microchip usually may run you $25 to $40, the American Animal Hospital Association reports, noting that there may be an additional fee to enter your pet’s ID number in the microchip database.
Some shelters’ puppy adoption fees also include an obedience class, Kamiya notes. “Getting a pet from a breeder or a free ad can obviously change your initial price point, but then you’re paying for all the initial medical services a la carte at the veterinarian. If you really want to get the most cost savings, keep an eye out for fee-reduced specials at area shelters during certain times of the year.”
One-time (or Occasional) Costs
In addition to paying for initial veterinarian visits and spay or neuter services, you’ll also need to buy a handful of items before you bring your dog home. How much you spend is somewhat up to you, Kamiya says. “A basic collar and leash will run you about $20, but the sky is the limit if you want leather, custom, designer or even jeweled gear,” she says. “It’s the same with beds and other supplies. You can find a great $25 to $30 bed at a discount store or a pet supply chain, but if you want to bling it up, there are plenty of options out there.”
Regular Monthly Expenses
Of course your pet needs to eat — and that cost can add up quickly. The average dog owner spends $269 on food for their pup annually, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA). And that’s not counting treats, which can tack on an additional $61 each year.
Grooming and Preventative Health
“Monthly flea-control drops and heartworm prevention are absolutely vital for your sanity and the health of your pet, especially if you live in a warmer climate,” Kamiya says. “Depending on the brand you’re using and the size of the dog, these treatments can run from about $30 to $180 for a six-month supply.”
Your dog’s oral health is also important. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) recommends brushing your pet’s teeth daily. You may also want to consider some basic dental cleanings that cost roughly $100 or more each visit, the AVDC says.
Grooming costs will vary depending on the size of the dog, notes Carol Novello, president of HSSV. On average, a bath and brush-out for a dog with a regular coat may run you $25 to $75, she says. “If your dog is a non-shedding type — a poodle or Shih Tzu, for example — it will also need regular haircuts as the fur doesn’t stop growing the way it does in shedding dogs. A haircut costs a bit more — from $40 to $115, depending on the size.”
Kamiya notes that grooming is a health issue, particularly for long-coated dogs, so it’s not something you want to skip. How frequently your dog may need grooming depends on how fast its coat grows and your tolerance for shedding, she adds. Some dog owners opt to groom their dogs themselves, but they may want to drop them off at a groomer on occasion for other services, like nail trimming and ear cleaning. A nail clipping may typically cost $10 to $25, Kamiya says.
Walking, Sitting and Boarding
If you work outside the home, consider enlisting the services of dog walker, recommends Carol Bryant of pet blog Fidose of Reality. This could be a professional service or just a friend who has the time to walk your dog during the day while you’re at work. Not every dog may need to be walked while you’re gone, Novello notes. It depends on their age and energy level. “A puppy will absolutely need to go out during the course of a regular workday, and if you have a high-energy breed they’ll need the extra exercise.” Most professional pet sitters charge $15 to $25 per visit or walk, she says.
If you need to go out of town and can’t take your pup with you, boarding costs average about $35 per day, according to WalletHub.com, or you could look into in-home overnight sitting, for which the costs vary.
Yearly Veterinarian Exams
The price of an annual exam varies by breed and the overall health of the dog, Bryant says. Routine veterinary visits may average $235 annually, the APPA reports. But if your pet has an illness, the costs may vary depending on the condition. For example, the average treatment for an ear infection costs $98, while heartworm treatment costs an average $1,500, WalletHub.com reports.
Pet Health Insurance
Consider all of these costs before you commit to the joys — and responsibilities — of dog ownership.