Do you enjoy taking long walks on the beach or throwing a ball until your shoulder gets sore? Are you looking to wake up next to someone who never fails to give you dozens of kisses?
If you answered “yes” to the above, maybe it’s time to ditch the dating apps and get a dog.
Before you hurry home with a new furry friend, we’ve broken down the costs of dog ownership, so you can decide if a new pup fits your lifestyle and budget.
Pet adoptions have soared during the pandemic, but it’s important that you’re thinking about the big picture—the next few years, rather than the next few months.
If you can’t afford to provide a dog with the best life possible, it’s probably smart to put your canine dreams on hold. Still craving some puppy love? Call up your local animal shelter and ask if you can volunteer for some dog walking, socializing, and snuggling.
What are the starting costs of owning a dog?
If you adopt your dog from a shelter or rescue, you’ll pay around $800–$1,500 to get your new pup set up on the right paw.
If you choose to go the breeder route, your new Irish Setter or Horgi—that’s a Husky/Corgi mix, and it’s not to be missed—could set you back $2,000 to $5,000+.
That might all sound like a lot, but there’s plenty you’ll need to pay for in order to make sure your new pup is happy and healthy. In the first year, that means paying for initial adoption costs and taking a few trips to the vet.
First things first:
- Adoption/breeder fees. A sweet pup is priceless, but the cost for taking your new best friend home can range anywhere from $50-$4,000. If your dog is coming from a shelter or rescue, you probably won’t pay more than $500 in adoption fees. The most expensive pups will probably be AKC registered and come from a reputable breeder.
- Vaccines. You can get the full scoop on dog vaccinations. But whether your new dog is a puppy or fully-grown, you’ll pay between $75-$270 to get them up-to-date.
- Spay/neuter. Explore a full breakdown of the cost of spaying/neutering your dog. You’ll have to pay anywhere between $500-$1,000 to ensure you don’t have a litter of puppies to clean up after. Because it’s a more invasive procedure, spaying tends to cost more than neutering.
- Microchip. In case your pup wanders off, a microchip will make it easier for you to be reunited. Expect to pay $45-$150 for the chip and its implantation, and to get your dog registered on a pet recovery database.
When it comes to veterinary costs, an easy way to save (and avoid being bankrupted by major procedures for your fur fam) is by taking out a pet insurance policy. With pet insurance companies like Lemonade, you pay a monthly premium, after which your insurer would pay up to 90% of the costs for eligible treatments. That’s a lot of rawhide.
It’s worth noting that as your dog ages, they will require more veterinary care and treatments, which is why it pays to take out a pet insurance policy on your dog as early as possible. If you try to sign your 9-year-old dog up for insurance for the first time, they might be declined due to their age; either way, they’re likely to have pre-existing conditions that won’t be covered by insurance. But if you get your new puppy a Lemonade policy right away, they’ll never be denied coverage because of their age.
Now, let’s take a trip to the pet store to make sure your four-legged-friend is all set in their new digs:
- Food. Depending on the size, needs, and tastes of your new dog, you’ll pay anywhere between $240–$720 a year for dog food. A survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association found that dog owners spent an average of $287 on dog food in 2020. If you decide to go the gourmet route, you could be spending up to $1,800 a year.
- Treats. The true key to dog ownership and eternal love! Treats can cost $60–$180 a year, depending on how much you want to spoil your pal.
- Toys. From the humble tennis ball to luxury subscription boxes, you can spend anywhere from $60–$200 on dog toys every year. You can get some inspo from our ultimate pet gift guide.
- Supplies. A bed, crate, dog carrier, food bowls, collar, and leash are some essentials you might want to buy before your new pup comes home. You can find these items to suit any budget, but you can expect to spend somewhere between $60–$300 in total.
- Odds and ends. Shampoo, a brush, puppy pads (to prevent accidents), stain removers (in case of accidents), and tools for at-home dental care. Not all of these items will be necessary for every dog, but you can expect to spend $25 to $60 a year on miscellaneous items.
What are the annual costs of owning a dog?
Assuming there are no emergency expenses, you can expect to spend around $750–$1,750 every year on your dog’s health, happiness, and Milkbones.
A big chunk of this will go toward your furry friend’s yearly check-up:
- Annual wellness exam. Your trusted vet will take a look at your dog from nose to tail for $45–$55.
- Yearly vaccines. You’ll pay between $80–$270 to keep your dog fully vaccinated.
- Heartworm prevention. Protect your pet for $35–$80 a year.
- Flea and tick prevention. Keep creepy crawlies off your dog (and out of your house!) for ~$200 a year.
Want to keep veterinary expenses from biting a hole in your wallet? Explore Lemonade’s pet insurance for your pup to get up to 90% back on vet bills.
And remember, you’ll also want to budget money for a year’s worth of grub and fun:
- Food. $260-$720
- Treats. $60-$180
- Toys. $60-$200
- Odds and ends. $25-$60
Additional expenses you might encounter
Depending on your dog and your lifestyle, you want might to plan on additional expenses. For instance:
- Dog walker. If you aren’t able to give your pup the exercise they need, a dog walker can pick up a leash and pick up the slack. Expect to pay around $15–$30 per 30-minute walk.
- Doggy daycare. If you’re at work all day, you might want to treat your dog to some fun social time with his doggy friends a few times a week. (If your pup barks non-stop when you’re not home, the neighbors will also be grateful.) Depending on where you live, this will set you back $2,880–$6,600 a year.
- Dog training. It might take professional help to make sure your dog is, in fact, a “good boy”. You’ll pay somewhere around $200–$600 for six training classes. Fancy yourself a DIY Cesar Milan? Read up on dog training and school your dog yourself.
- Boarding. If you go out of town, you might need to keep your dog at a kennel, or as the pros call it, a “doggy hotel.” You’ll spend between $25–$80 a night for their stay, which will not include access to a minibar.
- Grooming. Some dogs benefit from the occasional trip to the beauty parlor. Services like nail trimming can cost as little as $10, but a full-service grooming runs around $40–$75, depending on the size and breed of your dog.
- Travel costs. If you want to fly the friendly skies with your best friend, it’ll cost you. Airlines typically charge $100–$125 one-way to bring your small dog with you in the cabin. If you have a bigger dog that needs to be put in cargo, it could cost from $500–$1,000.
- Pet psychic. Yes, this is a thing. Want to know what your Schnauzer actually thinks of you? Tap into your dog’s deepest inner thoughts for $250+ a session.
How much does an emergency vet visit cost?
Much like a thunderstorm or the scary vacuum cleaner, an emergency vet visit is one of the anxious realities dogs might have to face. While we hope it never happens to your sweet pup, we asked our favorite veterinarian, Dr. Stephanie Liff about emergency trips to the vet, and how much they could end up costing you.
According to Dr. Liff, you can expect to pay at least $100–$300 for an emergency veterinary exam—before any treatments, medications, x-rays, or surgeries. Whether your dog is suffering from an illness or had an accident, an emergency vet visit could easily cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Woof.
Stay on top of your pup’s health by learning about common dog diseases, and keep your eyes peeled for the warning signs. Also be sure to keep these toxic foods away from your pup’s reach… no matter how nicely they ask. And while you’re being a responsible pet parent, pay special attention to your dog’s poop—it could be telling you a lot about their overall health!
Before we go…
We’re not going to lie, being a dog owner isn’t cheap, and it certainly isn’t going to make you rich. (The field of Instagram doggie influencers is pretty crowded already.)
But who could say “no” to that sweet lil’ face?
If you ask die-hard pet owners they’ll probably tell you that the loyal companionship and unconditional love is worth every penny. In fact, according to the CDC, pet ownership is proven to lead to decreased cholesterol, lowered blood pressure, fewer feelings of loneliness, and better overall fitness. Pets just make our lives better.
Before you take on the lifelong commitment of being a pet parent, make sure you have the time, resources, and financial security to give your doggo the best life possible.
And hey, if you’re ready to take your dog home—consider getting your pup hooked up with Lemonade’s pet health insurance.