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Can you afford a dog? This is an important question to consider before deciding to get a furry friend. However, the cost of dog ownership is often overlooked. Dogs can be expensive, plain and simple. To be a good dog parent, you should learn more about the cost of owning a dog and use our simple calculator to determine if you can afford a dog and the many costs that come with it.
Why do you need to know the cost of owning a dog?
According to a survey by the American Kennel Club, the average annual cost of owning a dog is about $2,489. That’s about $208 a month. Included in this number is food, vet care, travel, grooming, boarding, toys, treats, ongoing training and dog events. This does not include initial costs, such as purchase/adoption fees, spay/neuter, supplies and training, which comes to $2,127 on average.
As expected, the survey also found that the average cost of owning a dog increases as the size of the dog increases, mainly due to food consumption. Just as you should calculate if you can afford to provide for a child before you have one, you should budget for a dog and make a responsible decision. The last thing anyone wants is to determine that you can’t afford your dog and have to give it up.
Basic Costs of Owning a Dog
These are recurring costs that should be built into your budget.
To add a little perspective, we’ve included what we pay for our Corgi, Marley (pictured above), in the basic costs of owning a dog.
This cost depends on the size of the dog and the quality of the food, so it can vary drastically. In general, dog food can range from $20-100 a month. This comes to $240-$1,200 a year. This cost can change over time as your dog’s preferences change. For example, our dog ate the same puppy food for a year, but then we had to try several different brands to find an adult food that he liked and didn’t upset his stomach.
Our dog’s monthly food cost: $30
As with humans, dogs require preventative healthcare, like vaccines and physical exams. Many of these costs are recurring, like monthly medications such as flea and tick protection and heartworm prevention. The age, size and breed of the dog will impact the cost of healthcare. According to the survey from the AKC, on average dog owners spend $423 on healthcare a year, or about $35.25 a month. Be sure to do some research to find cheap vets near you.
Our dog’s monthly healthcare cost: $35-100
Unfortunately, emergencies may also arise that cause your dog to end up at a vet or an after hours pet hospital. For this reason, many people have health insurance for their dogs. The cost of insurance depends on what the plan covers and the amount of the deductible, but it usually ranges from $30-50 a month. Obviously this is an optional cost, but it is more affordable than a few thousand dollar vet visit.
Our dog’s monthly health insurance cost: $37
Toys & Treats
The cost of toys and treats will depend both on the dog and the dog parent. If your dog is anything like ours, he or she may not even like treats. But many of our friends’ dogs will eat anything they are offered! With toys, it depends on the type of toys that your dog prefers as well as how easily they destroy them. The average annual cost of toys and treats is about $217 ($18 a month) according to the AKC survey. If you get a toy/treat subscription, like BARK Box, this cost will be higher.
Our dog’s monthly toys & treats cost: $10
There are some dog breeds that need to be groomed on a monthly basis and others that never need to be groomed. This all depends on the breed of the dog and the climate where you and your furry friend live. Moreover, if you decide to groom your dog yourself it will be cheaper than going to a groomer. Ultimately this cost of owning a dog varies, but on average respondents in the AKC survey spent about $190 a year. Since this is an average, it included dogs who never need to be groomed as well as dogs who require regular grooming. It’s good to be aware of the grooming requirements of the breed you want before you bring your dog home.
Our dog’s monthly grooming cost: $0
Extras: Training, Dog Walking, Boarding
These are additional costs of owning a dog that are different for every dog parent. If you have friends or family who offer to take care of your dog when you’re traveling, then you may never need to pay for dog boarding or dog walking. On the same note, if you watch videos or have experience with dogs you may not need to pay for training. You can learn a lot on YouTube!
Our dog’s monthly cost of extras: $0
The first year you have your dog will undoubtedly be the most expensive. There are costs that you’ll have to pay for before you get your dog, as well as one-time costs the first year of your dog’s life.
If you adopt your dog, you’ll likely only pay $100-300 in adoption fees. Alternatively, if you buy your dog from a breeder or pet store you could pay thousands depending on the breed. Be sure to do your research before you buy a dog to understand the average price for the breed.
There are many benefits to spaying or neutering a dog, including behavioral and health benefits. Unless you plan to breed your dog, you will most likely want to spay or neuter him or her. Of course, this can be very expensive. We bring our dog to a vet that is part of a national company and they gave us a quote of about $800 to neuter him.
There are cheaper options, like going to a Humane Society, just remember that in general you get what you pay for. We have even heard horror stories of serious complications at highly regarded veterinarian’s offices so be aware of the risks. There are also plans offered at many vet’s offices that cover preventative care as well as routine visits and even spaying or neutering. These tend to be quite expensive so be sure you understand what the plan covers and if you’re actually saving money before agreeing to it.
Supplies: Crate, Bed, Bowls, Leash, Collar
On to the fun stuff! These are the supplies that you need to get before you bring your dog home. Crates and beds can be surprisingly expensive, so do your research. Affordable beds can be found on Amazon as well as at Walmart and Marshalls/TJ Maxx. As for crates, you can check used crates for sale on sites like OfferUp and Craigslist. We bought ours at Amazon and it was very affordable. Remember the bigger the dog, the bigger the crate and bed! Bowls, leashes and collars are not that expensive, but be prepared to replace them eventually.
Cost of Owning A Dog Calculator
Use our simple calculator to help you get an estimate of how much you’ll spend on initial costs as well as recurring costs as a dog parent. This calculator is most useful once you have researched a specific dog breed so you know about how much they eat, how often they need to be groomed and depending on your situation if you’ll need to pay for extras.
This calculator does not include the initial costs (since they are specific to your dog) or unexpected costs, like an emergency. Moreover, you should increase your emergency fund if you get a dog so that you’re prepared for the unexpected.
As you might imagine, we spent time researching and analyzing our finances before getting a dog. Even with all of the research we did, there were still costs that surprised us. But, we also found out some frugal tricks this past year when it comes to providing for our dog. He tends to destroy any toy you give him, no matter the cost. A friend suggested that we check out the dollar store for toys and treats and this has been a big money saver! Of course, the toys are very easy for Marley to tear into pieces, so we only give him them when we’re watching. That also helps keep him excited about his new toys! There are also a lot of coupons you can find for food, supplies and services, such as at Petsmart and even at veterinarian offices.
The cost of our dog is about $112-177 a month. Most months it’s only about $112, but if Marley has to go to the vet unexpectedly, for an eye infection for instance, it’s more expensive.
The most important part of making sure you can afford a dog is that you’ll be able to give them a nice home, good healthcare, quality food and of course, fun!
To better understand if you can afford a dog, once you use our cost of having a dog calculator, create a zero-based budget and include those costs. Zero-based budgeting is a method of managing money in which you “zero out” all income and expenses. This strategy requires that you give every dollar of income a purpose. Find out how to make a zero-based budget in just 4 easy steps in our article.
Financial freedom begins with good habits.Rebecca & Tiago, theloadedpig.com