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Ready To Become A Dog Mom? Here’s How Much It Really Costs

Lindsay Mott  |  April 23, 2020

How much is that doggie in the window, and everything else she needs? Take a look at the expected upfront and long-term costs of a new pup.

It’s time! You’re getting older, and the fever has set in – no, not baby fever – doggie fever! We’re talking about a furry companion to greet you at the door, love you unconditionally, and take with you to your local coffee shop. But before taking the leap into doggie parenthood, it’s important to consider the cost and have an idea of how your new furry friend will impact your budget. It may be more than you think. 

“When thinking about adding a new pet to your household, it is vital to consider the upfront costs, as well as the long-term financial commitment,” says Rena F. Lafaille, MPA, director of administration, ASPCA Adoption Center. “Oftentimes, people aren’t aware of the ongoing costs of caring for a pet.” 

When adopting my dog five years ago, I was told to expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 in the first year… At first I thought this was crazy, but my puppy’s sensitive stomach led to the need for expensive, all-natural dog food, so the estimate ended up being not far off. 

Here’s a look at what you can expect — and what to prepare for. 

Upfront Costs

As you think about bringing home your new pup, it’s important to consider everything you might need to prepare yourself and your home. Basic supplies can include a leash, collar, ID tag, dog bed, food and water bowls, food, treats, toys and so on. If you decide to crate your furry friend or use a baby gate to keep them in a certain area of the house, you’ll need to purchase those items as well.

Dana Puglisi, director of marketing at Adopt-a-Pet.com, says to expect these items to cost anywhere from a low of $50, up to to several hundred dollars depending on the items and brands you choose.

And even if you have no intention of paying a breeder thousands of dollars for your pup, and you choose the adoption route, you’ll still have to pay for an initial vet visit, as well as vaccines, treatments, and having the dog spayed or neutered. There may also be fees for adopting a shelter dog, or even just applying to adopt. (My adoption application was $100.) Also, if you you want to ensure that your pup starts off on the right paw with their behavior, you may decide to invest in training classes, and those costs can really add up. 

Long-term Costs

Food and Treats

The main thing to consider when it comes to taking in a pet is the increase in your weekly and monthly expenses to supply dog food, treats, toys, and all the other items that go into keeping a pet healthy and entertained. 

Food costs can vary based on the brands chosen (as with most things, you can spend a little or you can spend a lot), and the amount of food consumed on a daily basis is based on the size of the dog. Puglisi says dog owners should expect to spend anywhere between $300 and $800 on food and treats each year. 

Vet Visits & Preventative Medicine

A new pet parent should plan to spend anywhere from $200-400 on annual vet visits and routine medical care, according to Puglisi. You should also expect the unexpected (this is a good rule of thumb for human medical costs, too!) and have some funds set aside in case your pet gets sick or needs emergency medical treatment. 

“There is no bond quite like the one you can share with a dog,” Puglisi says. “You can count on your new dog to support you in good times and bad, and you should be prepared to do the same for your new dog, even when unexpected situations arise.” 

And you know this stuff never seems to happen on a regular Tuesday —  it happens on a holiday that requires a trip to the animal emergency room and a subsequent emergency surgery that costs $1,000 after your dog injures herself on a pole in your yard. (True story!)

Certainly, emergency vet visits can vary in cost depending on the issue, but something requiring surgery or intense medical treatment can range anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. There are pet insurance companies that provide varying coverage for pets with a monthly fee, and Puglisi encourages pet parents to look into these options. 

Beyond vet visits, dogs also need preventative care such as heartworm and flea/tick medicines to keep them safe.

Grooming or Grooming Supplies

Does your dog have hair that needs to be cut regularly or do they just need regular baths? Either way, this costs money. While looking at your pet budget, it’s important to consider your dog’s overall grooming needs and how this can add up each month. 

If you decide to groom your dog yourself, you’ll need to buy shampoo regularly, while having your pet groomed outside the home can run anywhere from $20 and up based on the size of your dog and their hair type. 

Dog Walkers, Sitters & Boarding

“If you lead a busy lifestyle or work long hours and your pet will be home alone a lot, you may also want to budget for a dog walker or doggie daycare to ensure your pet has adequate potty breaks, daily exercise and stimulation,” Puglisi says. 

Dog walkers vary in cost, but typically run somewhere between $10-$30 per walk, depending upon the length of the walk, and the area of the country where you live. 

If you travel, you also need to consider the cost of boarding your dog or having someone stay with your dog while you’re gone. This can add up quickly depending on how often you’re away. 

Replacement Items

This may come as a shock to first-time dog owners, but some dogs are chewers, and no matter how closely you watch them, you’re going to need to replace a few things. Perhaps a pair of loafers, a remote control, a wallet, books — the list goes on.  Some dogs chew up clothing, while others attack furniture. 

No, these things don’t always happen, but it’s good to keep in mind for your overall pet budget. Once you understand your dog’s specific needs, you’ll be able to navigate your finances successfully, Lafaille explains. “Making the decision to adopt does require thoughtful and even calculated planning, but bringing a pet into your home adds incomparable joy,” she says. 

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