Q: I’d love to have a dog, but I’m not sure I can afford one. What kind of expenses am I looking at if I bring a furry canine friend home?
A: Owning and caring for a dog doesn’t come cheap. But, if you work out the numbers before moving forward, you’ll know what to expect and have an easier time budgeting for these new expenses.
Here’s a rundown of what buying and owning a dog can cost.
First, let’s take a look at the larger expenses that you’ll, fortunately, only need to pay once.
If you decide to buy a purebred or specific mix of breeds from a breeder, it can run you $500-$5,000 depending on the breed. This cost may be offset by lower healthcare expenses, as a dog from a reputable breeder will typically be subject to health testing and may be generally healthier. However, if you get your dog from a shelter, you can pay as little as $50 or up to $300.
You’ll need to spring for some doggy gear before bringing your pet home, including a bed, a collar and leash, a feeding bowl and some toys, for starters. Combined, these should run you, on average, about $50-$100, but this may be higher depending on the size of the dog.
If you want to get your dog trained, you can pay as little as $25 for a single class, or up to $300 for a full course of training, plus resource materials.
Next, is getting your dog spayed or neutered, which can add $20-$300 to your initial costs.
Licensing, vaccinations and a microchip will bring that total up by $110-$360.
Total one-time costs: $255-$6,060
Once you’ve paid the costs to bring your dog home, you’ll need to consider what it costs to care for your pet each month.
Your four-pawed friend’s got to eat, but how much is dog food going to run you? That depends on several variables.
First, how much are you able to spend? The cheapest dog food can cost less than a dollar a pound, but if you go gourmet, expect to pay gourmet prices, or up to $1.60/lb.
The size of your dog also plays a role in how much the food will cost. A small 3-pound pup will only need 140 calories a day, or ⅓ cup of food, while a 100-pound beast will need a whopping 1,925 calories a day, or 4½ cups of food.
Finally, consider your dog’s special dietary requirements. A bag of food for dogs with sensitive stomachs can cost as much as $2.60/lb.
Total monthly cost: $20-80
Preventative health care and routine well visits
All dogs will need some medication to prevent common conditions, like heartworms, fleas and ticks. Some vets may recommend vitamins or other supplements and dogs should also have their teeth brushed occasionally. Costs for these preventative measures will vary by the size of the dog and its general health.
Most vets also advise dog owners to bring their pets in for a wellness checkup at least once a year. The cost of this visit will vary by location and practitioner.
Total monthly cost: $20-80
Grooming and bathing
If you’ll be giving doggy baths at home or out in the yard and trimming their nails, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. If you’ll be hiring someone else to do the washing and regular grooming, these costs can add another $100 to your monthly dog costs.
Total monthly cost: $0-100
Doggy day care, boarding and walking
Here’s where doggy costs can start to skyrocket.
Doggy day care averages $40 a day, while individuals who travel often can expect to add another $100 to their pet costs for every overnight stay. Hiring someone to walk your dog will bring these costs up even more, with professional dog-walking services charging as much as $30 for every half-hour walk.
Total monthly cost: $0-600
So, how much does it cost, in total, to own a dog? After the initial costs, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $960 a month, depending on how much you choose to spend and how often you’ll need to leave your pet in day care.
That furry friend doesn’t come cheap, but you can’t put a price on the companionship, and boundless love, that a dog will bring you. Be sure to review the costs before bringing your pet home, and to make sure you can comfortably afford these new expenses.
Enjoy your four-legged friend!