What Your Dog Really Costs You

What Your Dog Really Costs You

Our pets have become such an important part of our lives.  Some people would say they are like children.  I could agree with that statement.  Children forever stuck in the toddler stage, but that’s just my opinion.  I love animals.  Personally, I have 4 dogs and 3 cats (enter crazy animal person jokes here).  Each one of our furry little critters have their own personalities, quarks, and attitudes.

In today’s world, we have therapy animals, service animals, spirit animals, etc.  We can take our animals pretty much anywhere we go, unless you have a therapy peacock and you are trying to board a plane.  Hell, you can even take a miniature horse on an airplane now.  It is no wonder why people will pay extraordinary amounts of money on their animals when they become ill or need surgery.

People pamper their pets now, unlike any other time in history.  They dress them up in little outfits, give them bottled water, wheel them around in specialized strollers, and take them day spas to get massages.  Do I judge them, nope.  Go for it.

One thing my wife and I do get for our puppies is a monthly goody box from BarkBox.  Our doggos love getting these boxes.  They come with 4-6 full-sized treats and toys.  We let the pups open the box up and go to town.  I know, it isn’t a trip to the doggy day-spa, but with plans starting at just $20/box it is the least we can do for our four-legged children.

The lifetime cost of owning animals is no laughing matter, however.  Expenses can really add up and eat away at your budget if you are not careful and if you have not planned for every aspect of owning a pet.

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I will assume that you are looking to purchase a dog, because cat people are just weird.

What does it cost to own a dog?

Adoption Costs

I am going to look at the expense of owning a dog over its lifetime.  There is no better place to start than the beginning.  You obviously need to adopt your lovely ball of fur first.

Depending on your location and what type of dog you are looking to adopt, your adoption fee can range from free to $500.  Yes, it could be a lot more than that, but we are looking at averages here and are assuming that you are not looking at getting a pedigreed French Bulldog.

Veterinary Care

Your dog will, without a doubt, need veterinary care both initially and throughout its lifetime.  The initial veterinary care can range from $45 to $200 and should include your initial visit, exam, etc.  Ongoing veterinary care throughout the life of your dog includes routine visits, surgeries, etc. and can range from $540 to $2,400.


It is very important to get your dog vaccinated on a regular basis.  Getting them their proper vaccinations helps them stay healthy and may be required to board your dogs at kennels.

Initial vaccinations can range from $60-$150 while vaccinations over your dog’s lifetime can range from $720-$1,800.


It is very important to get your dog spayed or neutered.  Controlling the pet population is vital to keeping dogs out of shelters and off the streets.

The average cost of spaying or neutering your dog can range from $35 to $200.

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Dental Care

As your dog ages, it will probably need some dental work done.  I know that our dogs have needed dental scaling, teeth pulled, etc.  It is inevitable.  This dental work can range from $0 to $7,500 over the life of your dog.

Medication Costs

Your dog will require antibiotics, flea and tick medications, and if you get really lucky, allergy medications.   Yes, I was pretty heavy on the sarcasm with that one.  These medications can cost you anywhere from $288 to $7,500 over your dog’s lifetime.


We have a German Shepherd.  Bad move.  This thing sheds like nobody’s business and we need to vacuum about twice a day just to keep up with the hairballs.  If you are lucky like us, you will need to pay some grooming costs which could range from $0 to $14,400 over the lifetime of your dog.  Dang!


Training your dog is an optional cost, so I won’t put a number to it, but I can definitely recommend it.  You can train your dog yourself if you feel that you are capable of it.  You can also pay a professional to train your dog as well as help get it socialized with other dogs.  Group training costs can range from $40 to $125 depending on the trainer.

Training can help destructive tendencies as well as possible lawsuits in the future if it happens to bite someone.

Food Costs

You need to feed that four-legged companion, right?  If you take the regular food route, you would be looking at about $120 per year.  If you like to pamper your pup or if they have the need for a special diet, you will be forking out about $500 per year.  Better put that in your budget.

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Let’s Sum This Up

Let’s put this whole “owning a dog” thing into perspective and turn it into a hard number.

If you were to adopt a dog and were looking at the low-end of the cost range, it would be about $588.  Not too bad if nothing serious happens, your dog doesn’t eat too much, and survives on the bare necessities.

If you want to give your pooch extra comfort, a better diet, and prepare for emergencies, you would be looking at about $37,500.

You should aim for the higher number.  With more than one dog, multiply that.

After writing this article, and me having four dogs, I think I need to go have a drink.

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