While you can't really put a price tag on cozy snuggles with your furry friend and endless puppy love, the costs owning a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat, or any other animal, can get really expensive. According to the 2017-2018 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, the annual cost of owning a dog is $1,502 and $958 for a cat (both numbers include basic expenses only).
Unfortunately, a majority of people underestimate the financial burden that comes with their pets. As a result, thousands of animals are returned to shelters by people who weren't adequately prepared to make the adoption in the first place. Sadly, around 56% of dogs and 71% of cats that enter animal shelters are put down. Adopting a pet is a serious financial undertaking and every first-time pet owner should budget accordingly!
In this post, I will explore the costs of owning a dog through my experiences with my Labrador retriever puppy (and chocolate-colored troublemaker), Mocha.
Let's crunch some numbers:
Initial Costs of Owning a Dog
Adoption Fee - $100-$400
Adopting a dog from an animal shelter is the cheapest (and best!) option but be aware that in many shelters, dogs have been through various levels of emotional or physical trauma, and may require additional love, training, and medical care.
Breeder Fee - $500-$3,000
Adopting a dog from a breeder is typically more expensive and can range from $500-$3,000 depending on the dog's breed or pedigree, the breeder's reputation, etc. Make sure to do your research beforehand and pick a responsible breeder who you are positive is not running a puppy mill in his backyard.
Spay/Neuter Surgery & Vaccinations - $300-$600
Responsible breeders and animal shelters usually take care of vaccinations and spay/neuter procedures prior to putting a dog up for adoption. However, if your pooch is not fully vaccinated or hasn’t had a surgery yet, shop around at your local vet clinics or animal hospitals to make sure you get the best quality care for a reasonable price. The cost of these procedures may vary depending on the size and breed of your dog. Be aware that in many states, you are legally required to spay/neuter your pet or face fines and/or community service!
Lifehack: Throw in an extra $30 to microchip your pooch during the surgery for peace of mind in case they get lost.
Crate & Fencing - $50-$150
Crate prices range depending on their size, style, and brand. Invest in a high-quality crate that will last for at least a couple of years. Make sure you get an adequately sized crate for your doggie. For larger breed puppies, you may want to get a large crate right away and use divider panels to adjust the space within the crate as your puppy gets bigger. The same applies to outdoor and indoor fences.
Lifehack: You can save a lot by getting a used crate or fence. Websites and apps such as Craigslist, LetGo, and OfferUp will come in handy in your search. You can get crates and fences of any type and size that are in very good condition for less than half the price of a brand new one.Mocha on the day of her graduation from the small crate
Food & Water Bowls - $20-$30
Dogs get really excited about food. Although ceramic and glass bowls may look pretty, your pooch can accidentally break them and swallow a sharp piece of the damaged bowl. Invest in some well constructed, heavy-duty, metal bowls that will last for years.
Large breed puppies tend to eat too much and too quickly, increasing their risk of gastric torsion or bloat. One of the ways to teach your pooch to eat and swallow their food slowly is to get a slow-eater bowl.
Lifehack: Outlet stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross, etc. have great pet supply sections with even better sales and deals. Food bowls of different types are always there in abundance.
Collar, Harness, Tag, Leash - $30-$50
You will need these to take long luxurious walks with your pooch. Get a leash that's 4-6 feet long, and make sure to get tags that have your phone number and address on them in case your dog gets lost. You may want to consider getting a harness for large breed dogs. The EasyWalk correction harness is perfect for pooches that pull and have yet to learn how to properly walk by their favorite human.
Lifehack: You can find Amazon's entire selection of leashes and collars on the AliExpress website for twice as cheap if not more! However, plan ahead of time and only purchase pet supplies that you are not in the rush to get, as shipping and delivery may take up to a month.
Wearing her Easywalk harnesses --- a true fashionista!
Bed & Other Home Fixtures - $20-$100
Selecting a quality dog bed is really important, considering how much time your canine spends there. It’s should provide adequate support, especially for senior dogs who may need help with joint pain. Young pups may not appreciate their first bed as much and may see it as another thing to "chew on". Don’t spend a fortune on an extravagant bed for young doggies, Mocha's didn't last a day!
Lifehack: Look for decent pet beds in outlet shops such TJ Maxx, Marshall's or Ross. Costco & other wholesale stores have great options too.
The most expensive chew toy we got for Mocha was an $80 dog bed
Training classes - $150 - $500
Unless you're a great dog whisperer like Cesar Milan, it will do you some real good to invest in affordable but effective canine training classes. No one wants to be around a dog that jumps on people, can't sit, stay, or get off the couch when necessary.
Lifehack: Don't be afraid to use YouTube to find useful videos on how to train your pooch at home!
Food: $20-50 a month
Your monthly dog food expenses will vary depending on your dog's size and breed. Do your homework and choose a dog food brand that will keep your pooch healthy and happy throughout his or her life.
Lifehack: No need to carry heavy 50+ pound bags of dog food. Let delivery services do the work! Websites like Chewy.com offer two-day free shipping on $50+ orders and they will usually throw a bunch of discount coupons towards your next order.
Treats - $20 a month
When choosing treats for your dog, try different types and flavors to determine the one your dog likes the most. When feeding your dog a treat, split it into a few smaller pieces. This will make the bag of treats last much longer and keep your pet from gaining too much weight.
Lifehack: Boiled chicken, raw carrots, apples, bananas, mango, cheese, berries … Everything goes! BUT keep your pooch away from grapes, avocado, onions/garlic and chocolate! Even in very small doses, these foods can cause serious health issues for your dog.
Toys - $100 a year
Dogs, especially young pups, are very into their toys. Stock up on balls, squeaky toys, frisbees, and bones to keep your doggie happy and active.
Lifehack: Toys can get ridiculously expensive, so make sure to check out pet supply departments at the outlet stores mentioned above. If you hate shopping or simply don't have time to go out shopping, companies such as BarkBark, PupJoy, or Bullymake Box can deliver toys and treats straight to your home for a reasonable subscription fee!
"Give me a kiss, you" - $2.99 alligator chew toy from TJ Maxx
Regular Vet Checkups - $250/ year
Bring your pooch to see the vet on a regular basis to make sure your dog is up to date on all their vaccines, flea, and heartworm medications.
Emergency Vet Visits - $2,000 and up
A majority of dogs, especially young pups, are very active and curious creatures, which often compromises their safety and health. Be prepared for emergencies and the large vet care bills that can follow. You can either start by creating a savings account with a few thousand dollars deposited right off the bat or purchase a pet insurance plan, which can add an additional $800 to the annual cost of caring for your pet. Veterinary industry specialists agree that if you are unable to spend at least $2,000 for your pet's care in the case of an emergency, you shouldn't have adopted them in the first place.
Lifehack: Become a Eusoh member – the first non-insurance service platform that guarantees of at least 20% savings on veterinary care expenses. As a Eusoh member, you don't pay monthly premiums. Instead, you'll be sharing your veterinary expenses with a virtual community of responsible pet owners only IF and AFTER accidents happen. Learn more about Eusoh here.
Boarding & Dog Sitting: $25-$60 a night
… Multiply by the amount of out-of-town traveling you do throughout the year.
The number of times you need to take your pooch for grooming & nail clipping will vary by breed. Many pet owners choose to groom their pets at home. However, if you have a big fluffy dog, you may have to hire a professional groomer to keep your pooch's coat clean and free of tangles.
Professional Dog Walking: $15-$25 per walk
If you're thinking of getting a dog and you spend most of your day at work, you're going to need to hire a dog walker to keep your apartment accident-free and your pup happy and healthy.
If you think there are other costs and expenses to pet ownership that I might've missed in this post, please comment below or contact us directly!