How Much Does Owning a Dog Really Cost?

With many different lifestyles come many different budgets. But, with 48 million American households owning a dog, you may be wondering, “how much does owning a dog really cost?”

Buying the Dog

The purchase price of your new dog can vary depending on the method you use to acquire the dog. Shelters and rescues offer dogs for adoption for anywhere from $50-$375 as a rehoming fee; this fee is used to support the shelter and maintain the facilities the dogs live in. Online ads and breeders selling dogs can price dogs at drastically different rates. From free, unwanted puppies to designer Maltipoo puppies for sale, available for several thousand dollars. Whatever you decide to pay initially, it’s essential to factor in the one-time payment in addition to all the many recurring expenses you’ll face once you bring your precious puppy home.


If you purchase your puppy from a reputable breeder, they may come home with some supplies included with your puppy. If your puppy doesn’t have any supplies, you’ll need to get some basics, such as a leash, collar, food bowls, toys, bedding, etc. The best way to calculate this expense is to list all the supplies you intend to purchase and look up their price. It’s hard to get a well-rounded estimate since some dog owners like to buy all kinds of accessories and unique supplies to make cleaning up a breeze, whereas some prefer the minimalist approach.

Health Checks and Vet Visits

All dogs will require well checks from your veterinarian, but new puppies will have additional appointments to receive puppy vaccinations and booster shots. Heartworm preventative and blood work can also increase the cost of these visits. Generally, it will cost about $75-$375 per visit, but this can vary slightly depending on the location.

Parasite Control

Monthly heartworm and flea and tick preventatives will be a part of your dog ownership expenses. If you live somewhere that suffers from high rates of fleas and ticks, you could also add an additional form of protection such as an edible, topical, or shampoo pest preventative. These products will cost your average dog owner $125 annually.

Pet Insurance

You could eliminate this from your expenses altogether as pet insurance isn’t required for all dogs, but it is a luxury item that could protect you from unexpected vet bills later on. Pet insurance premiums range from $10-$100 per month based on the insurance coverage and plan you select. On average, pet owners spend about $30-$50 per month or $360-$600 each year. Pet insurance doesn’t cover regular veterinary care like well checks, spay/neuter surgeries, or dental care, but it often covers emergencies that tend to be the most expensive. If you plan to have your pet spayed/neutered or receive a dental cleaning, make sure you budget that separately

Dog Food

Your monthly dog food expense will vary and could even change in the future depending on the brand you feed, whether or not you buy in bulk, the size of your dog, and health requirements. A larger dog will need much more food in a shorter period than a small dog. Ordering food online can reduce your expenses over time. You can calculate your annual dog food expenses by multiplying your monthly dog food expenses by 12, but don’t forget to add any supplements or vitamins your dog needs, if any.

As you can see, owning a dog can get expensive fast! So before you think about getting a free dog or gifting someone a dog, remember that the annual expenses associated with owning a dog really do cost more than we sometimes realize. Owning a dog is a big commitment, so make sure you’re financially prepared to provide for your new best friend!

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