How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

brown dog

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.

small dog sitting on grass

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.

dog wearing eyeglasses

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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