When I moved into my first apartment seven or so years ago, I wanted a pet SO badly. All the places I rented during undergrad and grad school 1.0 didn’t allow animals (un)fortunately, so I had to hold off until I was a slightly more responsible adult (an adultier adult, if you will). Emotionally, I was ready for a dog then. I desperately wanted something to take care of and for the companionship a doggo would provide. Financially, I’m really glad I didn’t become responsible for a dog until a few years later.
If you know me, you’ll know that I love my dogs more than I love most people. You’ll also hear me talk about how my dogs are my children. I would cash out my retirement plan and give them the world if I needed to (please don’t actually cash out your retirement accounts; Basically, I will do whatever I can to make sure they are cared for and comfortable).
I don’t always love how much my dogs costs, though. This is never something I’d taken the time to think about, both those recurring and one-time expenses. Not until my 17-year-old dog Penelope (you met her in my first blog about creating a budget) developed Cushing’s syndrome and needed to have several blood tests and a special medicine created for her over the last six-ish months (goodbye side-hustle money).
I would say that the love and affection my dogs give me is priceless, but I would also be foolish not to tell you that you should think about the actual cost of pet ownership. If you’re considering bringing a dog (or cat, I guess) into your life, the actual cost of the pet goes well beyond that adoption fee. Here’s a breakdown of the average first year of pet ownership for a medium-sized dog.
Adoption fees, a round of shots, and “fixing” your doggo
I’m a fan of #adoptdontshop, but however you acquire your dog, you should expect to pay anywhere from $50-$200 for a shelter dog and $200-$1500 or more if you’re shopping via dog breeder. Sometimes the spay and neutering is included in your adoption fee via animal shelter, but if not, you should expect to pay another $200 for that plus the costs of their first and second round of shots. There’s also the yearly license ($15) and dog tax if your state and county require dogs to be “registered” ($3-$10).
Stuff For Your Dog
When you bring your dog home, they will also need some necessities. Just like people need clothes, plates, and beds, so do our dogs. I’m 100% that dog mom who buys her snouts clothing, but minimally you’ll at least need a leash ($8), a dog Collar ($18), food and water bowls ($20), a training crate ($40), a dog bed ($27), and nail clippers ($35) if you’re not taking them to the groomer for this task. Although, my dogs lay on real furniture way more than they use their dog bed, you’ll likely want a comfortable place for your dog to lay that’s just theirs. This doesn’t include dog toys, which helps mentally stimulate your pup, helps them with teething, and are just dang adorable to watch them play with (ranging from $25-$150 per year or more).
The Monthly Costs
The costs above are for yearly and one-time costs for dog ownership, but what about the monthly rundown of what you should expect to purchase for your little furbaby? In the first year, and also later in your dog’s life, you can expect that they’ll go through quite a lot of dog pads ($20/month) as you’re training them. If you feed your dog a medium-tier quality dog food, you could easily spend $20-$30 month for a medium-sized dog. Then there’s dog treats; I get one that aids in their dental health so it’s two birds with one stone ($30). Then there’s flea medicine and heartworm medicine ($30-$60/month for higher quality products after rebates). You’ll need dog shampoo ($10-$20/yr) if you’re not taking them to the groomer. If you’re renting your place of residence, your landlord may require you to pay a one-time deposit for having a dog, or a monthly fee tacked onto your rent for your dog. This monthly fee can range between $25-$100 per month.
The Extra Expenses
Extra expenses include things like obedience training ($30-$100/yr), boarding or pet-sitting for your dog if you need to go out of town ($100-$300/yr assuming you leave town once or twice a year), grooming if you have a long-haired dog ($30-$500/yr), regular vet visits and preventative care ($$235-$400/yr), and emergency vet visits ($$$$).
As Your Doggo Gets Older
I know we’re just looking at the first year for a dog, but it’s also important to consider what other items they may need as they get older. Penelope has dog stairs ($30-$50) so she can get on the couch and this dog ramp ($100) to help her get into/out of bed. If you have a smaller dog and you want them to be with you in your space, you’ll likely want/consider these items also.
So What’s The Final Tally?
This number will vary widely. On the lower end, based on my own numbers, the first year will cost $~2500; add another $1000 to that if you shop and not adopt. Money Under 30 approximated the first year of dog ownership to cost $1270, which is significantly less than my own numbers. I would advise setting aside at least $500 in your emergency fund to cover any unexpected medical costs with your doggo, so you won’t have to be faced with making a tough decision if your snout needs care.
Doggos Are Amazing
If you’re strongly considering a dog and have decided that you’ll be able to swing the financial costs associated with having one, I would 100% recommend it. Your snouts will love you unconditionally and with no limits. They will give you joy. They’ll make you get out of bed on the days where you don’t want to (hello, 8am-like-clockwork walks). They will frustrate you some days, but minutes later you’ll forget all about it and want to snuggle them for forever.