Budgeting For a New Dog

By Stacey Leasca · March 14, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Budgeting For a New Dog

The United States is more than a little dog crazy: The percentage of households with a canine stands at 44.6%, meaning almost one out of two have a pooch. Owning a dog can be one of life’s great pleasures, whether you choose a tiny Chihuahua puppy or a mega, full-grown Great Dane as your new best friend.

But amid imagining all the cuddles and sloppy kisses, many prospective dog parents aren’t fully prepared for the expense of owning a pet.

This can indeed be an important question because not only can dog ownership be a major personal commitment, it can also be a considerable financial investment,g too. The initial first-year investment has been estimated at between $1,135 and $5,155.

If you’re considering bringing home a new pooch, here’s the information you need to know about budgeting for a dog and how much it’s likely to really cost.

8 Costs of Owning a Dog

It’s easy to fall in love with an adorable dog and feel as if you just must make it yours ASAP. But it’s wise to do a little research first about potential bills before bringing home your pooch.

Doing so can not only prepare you for the costs of pet ownership but potentially save you money on your pet as well. Knowing the expenses involved can help you budget, prioritize, and comparison-shop as you move ahead with getting your new best friend. Read on for eight costs that are likely to crop up.

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1. Adoption 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 $255 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.

Adoption vs Buying

If you’re wondering how adoption costs compare to buying a dog, consider that purchasing a Goldendoodle from a breeder costs an average of $2,200. What’s more, buying 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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2. 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, estimates range from $250 to $700 for food and treats. This will vary with what kind of food you buy (organic? bulk?), where you live, and how much your pet eats.

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3. Toys

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, fun-to-chase 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 or $75 a year or so, to buy their pooch some toys.

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4. 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 $40 or more per day (higher in certain areas, such as major cities), so it can be helpful for owners to know how many days each month they might need a dog sitter.

Also, if you are taking a vacation and aren’t traveling with your pet, know that a typical pet sitter will charge at least $30 a day to attend to your pup.

5. Incidentals

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. Many pet owners like buying their dogs clothes, which can add up as well. It can be wise 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.)

💡 Quick Tip: An emergency fund or rainy day fund is an important financial safety net. Aim to have at least three to six months’ worth of basic living expenses saved in case you get a major unexpected bill or lose income.

6. 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.

The cost of health care for a dog can vary greatly depending on where the person and the pup live (and the age or breed of the dog). Recent estimates say routine visits can cost anywhere from $50 to $250, and overall vet costs can run from $700 to $1,500 or more per year.

Beyond vet visits, 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 $5 to $15 a month, and treatment, if your pet is diagnosed, can cost $400 to $1,000.

7. Pet Insurance

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 significantly by your pet’s breed, age, and any other health history.

8. Emergency Fund

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 tails, 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).

But, guess what? Having some financial discipline 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.

The Takeaway

More than 44% of US households have dogs as pets, which shows how beloved they are. But before you get a pet, it’s important to know the costs involved (which can add up to thousands per year) and budget wisely. Saving in advance can make adopting and then caring for a dog easier. You might look for a high-yield checking and savings account to help your money grow for this purpose.

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How much does it cost to buy a new dog?

Costs can vary tremendously. Adoption fees are often estimated at between $255 to $414, and buying a dog from a breeder can run into the thousands.

What is the monthly cost of owning a dog?

The costs of owning a dog can vary greatly, from $40 to $290 a month, depending on factors such as the dog’s breed, age, health, and your location.

Can pet insurance save me money?

Pet insurance can save you money, but it really depends on your particular pet, the policy, and your specific situation. If the premiums and out-of-pocket insurance costs exceed what you expect to spend on your pet’s care, it may not be a wise buy.

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