Cost of owning a dog: can you afford having one?

cost of owning a dog

The idea of a loyal member happily wagging its tail every time it sees you is heartwarming indeed. Their cute face, their lovely canine antics, those puppy eyes, their playfulness and overall cheerfulness, all the reasons to have them in your family, in your life. For all the joy they bring to our life, it would only be fair to appropriately return the favor. So, before you go out and make the impulsive purchase, it might be wiser to sit back and give it a thought.

Your wish to own a dog must be weighed in terms of the cost of owning a dog. Do you know how much it would cost to own a dog? Can you afford having one?

Owning a dog isn’t about the picture perfect posts on Instagram or Facebook that get you a lot of hearts, it is a life you are going to be responsible for. We know you will love your pet as much as they love you, but love is not going to be enough in the long term. Therefore, we recommend you make an informed decision, do some research on the type of dog you want to have, how much it will cost you and the financial aspect of adding a new member to your family.

Let us now look at how much it will cost you to own a dog, from buying a dog to taking care of them. Some of the costs are one-time whereas some are recurring ones.

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1.  Cost of buying

When it comes to buying a dog, there are plenty of breeds to choose from and the cost varies accordingly. A purebred dog like Saint Bernard or Tibetan Mastiff could cost you anywhere above $1500.

However, if you choose to get a popular breed the cost could go down to $600 to $800. Most often when you buy the pups from a pet store or a breeder, they will come with registration and vaccination papers too.

You can cut down the buying cost further by visiting shelters or rescue centers and adopting a pup instead. Getting a pup from the centers could cost you anywhere from $0 to $300 based on the pup’s and its previous owner’s condition.

2.  Paperwork and cost

Paperwork for your dog includes registration, insurance and license.

Some pet stores include the registration fee for the dogs who have already been registered. If not, you can register your puppy with organizations like American Kennel Club (AKC) or the Dog Registry of America. The basic registration could cost you around $40.

Although insurance is optional, it is as important as health insurance for humans. You can choose to pay a monthly premium of about $10 for a plan with basic coverage.

Most states have made it illegal to have a dog without the dog license if it’s more than 6 months old. Licensing your dog to your name will cost you an average $10 a year, which varies from state to state. The license fee is lesser for spayed/neutered dogs.

Microchipping a dog is also a good option. You pay a one-time fee of around $45 to have your veterinarian implant a microchip in your dog.

3.  Cost of food

Food and treats are the most recurring expenses as a dog owner. The average cost for dog food is $30-40 every month. However, the cost can vary depending on the age and size of the dog.

You will need a feeding bowl for your puppy for now and when it grows later, so factor in a one-off $20 in the budget.

And while you’re at it you may want to spoil your pups a little with treats and toys, so add $6 (for treats) and $20 (for toys, including dental chews) to your budget.

Spoiling them also means going easy on them when they make an occasional mess, but you should be ready with your $10 back up plan for poop bags.

4.  Vet Visits

A routine vet visit will cost you around $45.

Once your puppy is a month old, you might want to discuss vaccination plans with your veterinarian. Rabies vaccine is mandatory which will cost you around $15, and your dog must get its shot every 1-3 years as required by law.

Based on the breed, some dogs may be prone to certain diseases that vaccinations can help prevent. These vaccinations could cost you anywhere from $75 to $100 per shot.

If you are considering spaying your dog, it will cost you $50–$500; and for neutering procedures, it will cost you $35–$250. The cost is dependent on the health, size, age and breed of your dog, and on the service you choose.

5.  Cost of accessories

Leash, Collar, Winter wear?

A dog collar costs anywhere from $5 to $40, and a leash $10 to $50. For outdoor time in colder temperatures, you may want to suit up your puppies with appropriate winter wear or rainproof gear which will cost you $40 a piece.

6.  Miscellaneous Cost

  • Flea and tick prevention: Painful and annoying fleas and ticks bug the dogs, and there are many preventive products in the market that will cost you $40 and above.
  • Shampoo and hairbrush: The fluffy friends need a good washing and brushing costing you $5 to $15.
  • Dog bed: A small bed for your puppy costs around $10, while a bigger one costs above $25.
  • Grooming: A grooming session for your pet costs anywhere from $30 to $100 per visit. A normal session includes ear plucking, bathing, paw pad shaving, nail trimming, haircut, etc.
  • Training: Whether you want your dog to follow your command or be an obedient companion, training can be good for both the dog and its owner. The average range for dog training cost is $30 to $80.
  • Dog sitter/ Dog walker: You can hire a pet sitter who might charge you $15 an hour on average. As for dog walkers, they may charge you around $20 for a 30-minute walk.
  • Dog boarding: Leaving your dog at a boarding facility could cost you $25 a day and $40 a night. The boarding rates can be lower for a longer stay.

The first year can be more expensive compared to the ensuing years as you have to cover a few one-time payments like buying a dog, accessories, registration, medical expenses, etc,. According to Insurance Information Institute (III), the basic annual cost for dog owners is around $1400. Also, just like our life is unpredictable, you must be ready for the unexpected costlier surprises along the way. Indeed, the journey of dog ownership can be expensive, but it surely doesn’t compare to the unconditional love you always receive.

Just when you think you can afford to have a dog, you also need to consider other adjustments you and your family members have to make to accommodate this tiny addition. You must not only spend money, but time as well with your dog: taking it for a walk, feeding it, playing with it. And the not so pleasant parts like whining, drooling, hairfall, the stink, the mess, yes these come with the territory too. This is a journey, a lifelong one for your dog, be ready, be prepared.

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