Costs You Wish You Knew About Before Getting A Dog (2023 Guide)


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Your average dog owner will spend hours of their life searching for the perfect dog breed. They’ll consider everything from the size of the dog to its breed’s temperament. But in the process they’ll forget one important question- how much will the dog actually cost?

While most will consider the initial price, many forget about the monthly recurring fees, annual vet bills, insurance, and unexpected payments that can quickly build up throughout the year. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to budget for your new dog, ensuring you can spend more time enjoying their company and less time worrying about your budget. 

How Much Does Owning A Dog Cost?

Owning a dog is a long-term financial investment, with most dog breeds living upwards of ten years. This doesn’t mean you need to budget ten years in advance, but planning for the next year can save you a lot of headaches. 

Firstly, you need to consider two main costs: upfront fees and recurring costs. 

Upfront fees cover the initial fees you pay for your dog. These include vaccinations, the price of your pup, dog registrations, and neutering (If you want to go down that route.) According to a 2022 report by Rover.com, most people significantly underestimated the upfront fees of getting a new dog. Most considered fees to be around $500. In reality, the upfront costs could range anywhere from $1,050 to around $4,480. 

As well as the essential costs of vaccinations and registration, it would be best if you also considered recreational upfront costs. Your dog will need a leash and harness to go on walks and they’ll need toys around the house to keep them entertained (unless you want to pay for replacement furniture!) Furthermore, they’ll also need a comfortable bed or crate to sleep in.

After covering upfront fees, you need to think about recurring expenses. These can range anywhere from $480 to over $3,000 depending on your dog’s breed, diet, and overall lifestyle. The most common recurring fees are dog food, grooming, vet visits, and regular health treatments for fleas, ticks, and heartworm.  

If your budget allows it, you can also consider optional expenses. These will include things like pet insurance, dog sitters, dog trips, and dog walkers. Such costs can range anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000.

With these three categories in mind, here are the most important costs you need to consider when budgeting for your new dog. 

Upfront Fees

Vaccinations

A crucial cost to consider when budgeting is the price of vaccinations. These costs will vary from one breed to the next, ranging from $115 to $230. This will also depend on the State you live in and the age of your dog. For example, a one-year-old dog will likely already have their vaccines. 

These are the vaccines and costs you’ll need to consider when buying a new dog: 

  • DHPP: $20–$60
  • Leptospirosis: $20–$30
  • Rabies (one year): $20–$30
  • Bordetella: $30-50
  • Canine influenza: $45-65
  • Lyme: $20–$40

Some of these may be required each year. Always check with your vet beforehand to keep on top of your budget. Read more about vaccine costs here.

Dog Registrations

The cost of dog registration will depend on your state but will range from $10 to $20. If your dog hasn’t been spayed or neutered, registration costs could be higher. 

Neutering 

Neutering costs vary based on the size and gender of your dog. Spaying a female dog is more expensive than a male, and the larger the dog, the more expensive the procedure. Here are some average costs. 

SizeMaleFemale
Small$120$180
Medium $250$350
Large$550$700

 

Leash And Harness

You can get your hands on a budget leash and harness for around $50. This price will vary based on the size of your dog. However, there are plenty of affordable options available online and in your local pet store.

Dog Toys

There’s no way around it, dogs and puppies love to play. If you don’t give them something to play with, you’ll quickly learn they’ll find something themselves (goodbye sofa!) When it comes to dog toys, you want to make sure you have a range of bones and chews for them to play with. This way, if they chew through a toy you can replace it with another. 

Toys can range from around $40 to $75 for basic toys such as teddies and bones. Always ensure the toy is appropriate for your dog’s size and teeth when buying. You also want to avoid inappropriately small toys as they can result in a trip to the vet if swallowed. 

Dog Crate 

If your budget is tight you can get your hands on a dog crate for around $35. However, you want to make sure your dog is comfortable and so you need to consider the additional costs of blankets or beds, which can increase this cost to around $50. Given that your dog’s comfort is on the line, this is a pretty affordable price!

Recurring Expenses

Dog Food 

Dog food is one of the most predictable recurring costs of owning a dog. Once you’ve found a reliable dog food provider that meets your dog’s dietary needs, you can expect your monthly costs to be relatively similar. 

Generally, premium dog foods will contain higher quality ingredients but come with a higher price tag. However, budget dog foods don’t need to compromise your dog’s health. There are plenty of dog foods available that are both affordable and healthy. In general, the monthly cost of dog food will range from $55 to $235 a month depending on your dog’s breed, size, and the amount they exercise. 

Dog Grooming 

Grooming needs will vary depending on your dog’s size and coat. Long-haired breeds, such as Irish Settlers, will require professional grooming every few months to prevent tangles. Larger breeds such as Saint Bernards will also need more regular appointments than smaller breeds. 

The grooming cost will generally cover dog shampoo, a haircut, a nail clip, a professional brush, and blow dry, costing between $265 to $410 annually.

Preventative treatment

After vaccinations, you need to take regular action to prevent your dog from catching ticks, fleas, or heartworms. These are usually all completed at once and can be purchased over the counter. Here’s an estimate of each treatment: 

  • Flea shampoo: $20 to $40
  • Flea tablets: $40 to $150
  • Heartworm tablets: $50 to $215
  • Tick shampoo: $15 to $40
  • Flea, tick, and heartworm prevention topical application: $200 to $261

Optional Costs

Boarding & Kennel Fees

Boarding and kennel fees are often a cost that many owners forget about. According to APPA’s annual report, owners will spend an average of $228 onboarding a year. Alternatively, doggie daycare will range from $15 to $40 a day depending on your location. 

Dog Walking

If you have a busy schedule you may not always have the time to walk your dog. This is where a dog walker can help. Dog walking prices depend on the individual walking your dog and your location, and will range between $15 to $20 for a 30-minute walk. 

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is an optional expense, however, can save you huge vet bills if your dog needs emergency help. According to the ASPCA, pet insurance costs around $225 annually, though this will vary based on your dog’s health, age and breed. 

Travel

If you travel and want to take your dog with you, expect to pay around $125 each way ($250 in total per trip). Before traveling, you also need to consider the price of a dog carrier and your dog’s health certificate, which will be required for all trips. 

The cost of a certificate is around $50 per trip. You’ll also need to consider where you’re traveling, as your dog could require additional vaccinations in foreign countries.

You can read more about the cost of traveling with a dog by checking these articles:

Summary: There’s More To Consider Than You First Thought

Phew. That was a little overwhelming. But don’t worry, owning a dog is always worth the costs!

Before buying a dog it’s always important to consider all of the costs you might have to ensure you’re prepared for anything that comes your way. By being proactive, you can ensure your dog lives their best life and you’re not continuously stressed about costs. 

And remember, you don’t need to buy premium items for everything in your dog’s life. Your dog won’t know how much you spent and, in most cases, will choose the cheaper option anyway- as is the way of owning a dog!


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