A sad fact noted by the ASPCA is that 1.5 million dogs are abandoned in the USA each year, with owners inability to afford keeping their dog being the most common cause of such abandonment.
Looking after your dog properly requires sufficient budgeting to make sure that they can be kept fed, healthy and have all that it needs to live a happy life. This includes an initial investment when it is a puppy, as well as costs every month if its life.
Here is a breakdown of how much it costs to raise a dog and be able to look after it properly.
One Time Dog Ownership Costs
Dogs require specific items, medical procedures and training, all of which comes at a price. Most of these one off costs will occur within the first year of your dog’s life, meaning that you should make sure that you get into financial shape before when you first get your dog.
The first obvious cost is the dog itself. The price can range massively depending on whether you get your dog from a rescue shelter, a breeder and what breed you get.
Getting a dog from a rescue shelter is the cheapest option, usually at around $50 to cover some of the shelters running costs. To buy a puppy from a breeder costs around $100-$500 for most common breeds. Smaller “fashionable” breeds such as French Bulldogs and Chihuahuas can cost up to $4000 from specialist breeders.
Aside from being expensive, buying from specialist breeders can encourage them to pedigree dogs to an unhealthy level. This can increase the prevalence of chronic hereditary illnesses in certain breeds of dog.
Your puppy is going to need a crate for the first few weeks of their life to encourage house training, they will also need a bed to sleep on. Together these can cost around $150.
Between 10-20 weeks your puppy will need vaccinations. These include vaccinations for: distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvo, and parainfluenza), these can be administered by a vet in several rounds of combined vaccines that together cost around $100.
Microchipping your puppy costs $50 and is imperative to ensure their safety if they get lost.
Your puppy will also require training during the first 6 months of its life to ensure obedience, safety to children and house training. You can do this yourself, especially if you have chosen a breed who are naturally obedient. For rescue dogs, and naturally less obedient dogs you may require a professional trainer. This costs around $300.
Your dog also requires a few essential accessories including:
- A leash ($10) (This may require replacing every few years)
- Dog and water bowl ($20)
- A carry crate (if a small dog) ($50)
- Toys ($30)
- Brushes ($10)
- Collar ($10)
Total one off costs (first year): $830- $1830 A lot of the initial costs of your dog depends on what type of dog you buy in the first place and if you already have basic dog supplies on hand.
How Much Does a Dog Cost Per Month on Average?
Although the first year of owning a dog is always the most expensive (barring any medical issues), there are a few monthly costs that will continue throughout their life. You therefore need to be sure that you can cover these costs even if your financial situation changes.
Firstly you need to keep your dog fed. A month’s worth of healthy dog food costs around $30. Treats on top of that can set you back around $10 a month
There are also smaller regular costs such as poo bags, specialist shampoo and medicine when needed. You should budget around $10 a month for this.
Typical monthly costs: $50. This is a number based on having a healthy dog and your dog not needing regular grooming. Very small dogs may cost a little less. Large dogs can cost more. Dogs that need regular grooming (like Poodles or Shih Tzus) can add $20 to $80 a month to this number.
Annual and other sporadic costs
Dogs require annual check ups from a vet, rising to a twice annual visit after 10 years. The average cost of a vet visit is general around $200. But this can vary depending on where you live.
Many dogs should also be groomed at least every 6 months, these cost around $50 a go, so $100 a year. If your dog is non shedding it will probably need to be groomed more often.
If you go on vacation and cannot take your dog with you then you will either need to pay for a kennel or a dog sitter. A live in dog sitter costs around $250 a week, with kennels only being slightly cheaper at $200 a week.
Insuring your dog also costs around $300 a year for basic coverage. This will not cover all veterinary costs however.
Annual costs: $800 These costs, like medical care and occasional grooming, aren’t something that happen every single month in most cases. But they are something you need to be aware of so that you can plan for them.
Lifetime Cost of a Dog
Given that the average life expectancy of a dog is around 12 years, you should expect to pay $19,000 to look after your dog throughout its whole lifetime.
Bear in mind that this does not include costs of emergency medical treatment, taking regular trips away from your dog (it assumes that you require a sitter for one week each year), that you do not have any expensive hobbies that involve your dog, and that you do not need to ever take time off work to look after your dog.
If any of these additional expenses come into play then the cost of your dog can easily rise to over $20,000 over the course of their life.
Lifetime costs $19,000+ Dogs are a significant financial investment. Most dogs live between 9 and 12 years – although some breeds can live up to 18 years. Dogs make great companions, but you need to take into account how much they cost before you you add one to your family.
How to reduce the cost of owning a dog (and still keep them happy and healthy)
The biggest costs of owning a dog involve medical bills and bringing on outside help to look after your dog in your absence.
The latter cost can be greatly removed by giving more of your time to your dog. Two ways of doing this are getting up early before work to take them for a walk or taking vacations closer to home where you can take your dog with you.
You can also team up with your dog owning friends to share walking responsibilities and look after each others dogs when each of you are away.
Medical bills are often difficult to avoid, but can be kept down by keeping your dog healthy. The easiest ways of doing this are:
- Keeping your dog a healthy weight by avoiding giving them treats (both of the dog and human food variety)
- Walking them daily
- Washing them regularly and keeping them well groomed
- Seeing a vet immediately at the earliest signs of any problem.
Some breeds of dog are more prone to certain illnesses than others, it is worth doing research into this before you get your dog.
There is a big debate about whether pet insurance is worth the money. While for the majority of your dog’s life you will pay more into your pet’s insurance than they will pay out, your dog will almost certainly require some sort of complex medical treatment as they get older. This can come unexpectedly, so we would recommend that you get at least a basic coverage for both your financial benefit and for the well-being of your dog.