America is more than a little dog crazy: The percentage of households with a canine rose from 38.4% in 2016 to 44.5% in 2022. Owning a dog can be one of life’s great pleasures, whether you choose a tiny toy Poodle or a mega Great Dane as your new best friend.
But amid imagining all the cuddles and sloppy kisses, many prospective pooch parents aren’t fully prepared for the expense of owning a pet. You might wonder: “How much should I budget for a dog?”
This can be an important question because not only can dog ownership be a huge personal commitment, it can also be a considerable financial investment too. The initial first-year investment has been estimated at between $1,135 and $5,155.
If you’re contemplating bringing home a new pooch, here’s the information you need to know about budgeting for a dog and how much it really costs.
The initial cost of adopting a dog can vary greatly depending on if the dog comes from a shelter or purchased from a breeder. As a range, however, Animal Humane Society sets its standard dog and puppy adoption fees between $215 to $414.
The fee cost varies, as some dogs (such as purebreds) are in higher demand and the organization needs to cover the cost of caring for animals who may take longer to adopt out (such as older dogs).
At many pet rescues, adoption fees also cover the cost of extra services, like a pet physical exam, deworming, spaying or neutering, or common vaccinations.
Meanwhile, buying a Goldendoodle from a breeder costs an average of $2,200. Purchasing a pet from private breeders, often, does not come with the extra services that some non-profit rescues cover. So, if an owner is considering the breeder route, the out-of-pocket cost of future medical visits, may be one more dollar sign to add to the eventual pet budget. This can help you know how much to allocate towards your new companion so you can avoid ending up with credit card debt.
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Food and Treats
Some of the tiniest puppies can morph, in just a few months or years, into heftier eating machines. Young puppies can grow quickly. And, all that fast growth can mean they’ll eat…A lot.
So, food and treats can also play a significant role in your personal budget when you bring home a furbaby. Individual dog budgets can vary based on the size of the pooch and type of food each owner opts to feed their pet. Food choices might include dry kibble, wet food, a raw food diet, or some mix of each.
What to feed a dog is all a personal choice between the owner and their veterinarian. However, if someone is looking to estimate the potential cost of feeding a new dog, a recent survey estimates that pet parents can expect to spend about $287 a year on dog food and $87 on treats.
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Toys may seem like a silly little add-on, but they can play an important role in puppy development and adult dogs’ mental stimulation.
Toys can help dogs fight boredom when they are left at home alone and comfort them if they’re agitated. (With toys to gnaw on, dogs may be less likely to turn to shoes for a midday distraction.) Rather than investing in pricey toys, a simple tennis ball will satisfy many dogs. And, a dog owner can grab a can of three tennis balls on Amazon for about $4.
However, the cost here can also depend on just how quickly an individual dog chews through the balls. Some doggos do a great job of tearing them apart. So, a pet owner may want to budget a small amount, say $50 a year or so, to buy their pooch some toys.
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Pet Sitters or Walkers
Taking a vacation with a pet? Then pet sitting isn’t an expense. But for many people who work outside the home or travel without Fido, it may be a good idea to consider a dog walker or pet sitter. This person can be a trusted friend or family member, a neighbor, a kid down the street, or a professional service.
Even if it’s a friend, a new pet owner may want to budget in some dollars to pay this person. Doggie daycare can run $30 or more per day, so it can be helpful for owners to know how many days each month they might need a dog sitter. A typical pet sitter will charge at least $30 a day to attend to your pup.
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A lot of smaller expenses can come with owning a dog. Incidentals to budget for include things like, collars, leashes, dog beds, cleaning supplies, crates, pet bath products, and the all-important groomer.
Some may want to build in another cushion in a pet budget to cover the above-mentioned items, too. Pet I.D. tags and registering a pet with the city are extra costs to bear in mind. (For reference, it can cost between $8.50 and $34 a year to obtain a dog license in New York City.)
Routine Medical Visits
Dogs, like humans, need regular medical check-ups, so “How much will it cost?” is a wise question to ask when budgeting. Just like a human exam, dogs need blood drawn to check for diseases, routine vaccinations to prevent disease, and a general physical exam once a year to make sure their health is in working order.
Some pet organizations estimate this visit can run a pet owner between $210 and $260, but it can vary greatly depending on where the person and the pup live (and the age or breed of the dog). Given that variation, it can be helpful to budget at the higher end of that range (just in case).
Beyond the vet visit, pet parents may also want to add in a budget for preventative medicine. Depending on where an owner lives, a veterinarian could recommend a monthly flea and tick medication, along with regular heartworm medication, to prevent the dog from becoming afflicted. Flea and tick meds can range from $40 to $200 a year while heartworm medication averages $80 a year, and treatment, if your pet is diagnosed, can cost $400 to $1,000.
While pet insurance won’t cover routine veterinary visits, it could come in handy if an emergency occurs with the pup.
For example, a new dog could eat something that causes it to get sick — like, ingesting pieces of a chew-toy or snatching food with bones in it off an owner’s plate (or street).
Many pet insurance plans will cover a portion of medicines, treatments (including surgeries), and medical interventions that aren’t tied to a pre-existing condition.
Paying monthly for pet insurance, while the dog is young, could save an owner hundreds or thousands of dollars as a dog continues to age as well. (Generally, pet insurance costs less when a dog is younger). This kind of policy typically costs between $38 and $56 per month.
Pet insurance may cover things like ingesting harmful items or food, accidents, urgent care, and — in some cases — preventative medicine. The cost of pet insurance can vary by breed, age, and any other health history.
It can be wise to save up an emergency fund for pet-related expenses. Things just tend to happen with dogs around. They can accidentally knock things over with their tales, swallow objects. and need an emergency vet visit. Dogs can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time (ahem, chewed up leather shoes, ahem).
But, guess what? Having some financial discipline and going to that trouble can be worth it for a lick on the face, a little playtime, and coming home to a happy dog. Planning ahead for a pet budget can help new owners focus on those tail-wagging moments with Fido instead of stressing over canine costs.
Saving in advance can make adopting and then caring for a dog easier. A SoFi Checking and Savings Account can be a great place to stash your money. It includes budget tracker tools, charges no account fees, and offers a competitive annual percentage yield (APY).
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