How to Budget for a Dog

It can be hard to think of the expense when you first fall in love with a dog.

It can be hard to think of the expense when you first fall in love with a dog.

If you've ever been out with your spouse and run across the sign "puppies for sale," you know how hard it can be to resist getting a dog of your own. However, in addition to being "man's best friend," a dog can be quite an expense. On top of the one-time costs of purchasing the dog itself and initial supplies, you should be prepared to keep paying for other things, too. As with humans, unexpected costs often pop up in dog ownership, and a good budget will include something extra for the comfort and care of your new pooch.

Record the purchase price of the dog. The most visible cost of dog ownership is the amount you pay for the actual dog. Try negotiating the purchase price down to lower your overall dog expense budget. You may be able to get a dog as inexpensively as free, but most dogs cost from $50 to $1,000 and up, depending on the breed.

Budget for initial medical expenses. When purchasing a dog, you must take it to a vet for an initial medical exam. If your dog is not spayed or neutered, budget for that as well. Costs can vary widely by dog and vet, but an initial exam might cost around $70, while spaying or neutering a dog could cost around $200. Check with a local vet for costs in your area.

Remember supplies. Basic necessities for your new dog will include a bowl, a leash, a collar and a crate or kennel. The sky is the limit when it comes to how much you want to pamper your pooch, but basic necessities will generally cost you around $200 or more.

Choose the type of food you want to give your dog. Moist food is generally more expensive than dry food, and larger dogs will tend to eat much more than smaller dogs. Food expenses can range from $100 to $500 or more annually.

Keep your dog entertained. While not a mandatory expense, providing your dog with toys will make his life and your life more enjoyable. As with food, toys for larger dogs tend to be more expensive than those for smaller dogs. An appropriate average toy budget is between $40 and $75 per year.

Budget for ongoing medical care. Just like humans need annual checkups, you should have your dog checked for fleas and worms and provided with vaccines at least annually. Typical yearly vet costs run about $200 to $250 per year.

Expect the unexpected. One of the most expensive costs in owning a dog is unexpected medical costs. An "everyday" dog emergency can run as much as $2,000 to $3,000 in vet bills, while dog surgery can top out at as much as $5,000.

Groom your dog. Part of the annual "upkeep" for your dog should include regular baths, dental care and nail trims. You can do these things yourself to keep costs down, or you can take your dog to a doggie salon for about $250 to $400 per year, depending on the size and type of your dog.

Consider travel expenses. If you stay constantly stay home with your dog, or have a trusted friend or relative, you can keep your boarding costs down to zero. However, if you put your dog in a kennel whenever you travel, that can amount to a $300 to $700 annual expense if you board your dog for 14 days a year.

Walk your dog. If you walk the dog regularly, you won't have to pay anything for a dog walker. However, if you and your spouse work all day and don't have the time to give your dog proper walks, you can usually hire a dog walker for $15 to $20 per half-hour walk.


  • You might be able to rein in some of your dog's medical expenses by purchasing dog insurance, which typically runs about $225 per year.
  • According to Kiplinger, first-year costs for a dog typically run between $710 and $8,730, with annual costs ranging from $310 to $7,100, not including unexpected veterinary costs.

About the Author

After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA, John Csiszar earned a Certified Financial Planner designation and served 18 years as an investment adviser. Csiszar has served as a technical writer for various financial firms and has extensive experience writing for online publications.

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