How to Budget for a Dog

Owning a dog is becoming increasingly popular. An estimated 55 percent of U.S. households have pets, and dog ownership has increased 29 percent in the last decade. Owning a dog is shown to have loads of health benefits, including keeping you active, calming your nerves and making you feel less socially isolated. However, it’s important to know how to budget for a dog. The truth is that taking care of a pooch is not cheap. The lifetime costs of dog ownership can run anywhere from $15,000 to more than $93,000. Further, a recent study found that a whopping 98 percent of dog owners underestimate the lifetime cost of their pets. If you’re wondering how much money you should set aside to take care of your furry friend, you’ve come to the right place!

First-Year Costs

The first year of dog ownership is the most expensive, costing an average of $1,314 to $1,843, depending on the size and breed of your dog. If you’re trying to budget for your dog’s first year, there are several one-time costs to consider. First, you will have to pay to purchase or adopt the dog. This can range in cost from a couple hundred dollars for an adult rescue dog to thousands of dollars for a purebred puppy from a breeder. Next, you will have to purchase everything the dog needs, including a crate, leash, collar, water and food dishes, travel carrier and dog bed. According to estimates by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, these startup expenses will cost anywhere from $100 to $160, depending on the size of the dog.

Another expense that will come up in your dog’s first year is spaying/neutering. Also, your dog will need its standard vaccinations. Some rescue organizations take care of these medical needs and include the expenses in their adoption fees. However, if you’re getting a puppy, chances are that you will have to pay to get it fixed and vaccinated. For these initial medical expenses, you can expect to shell out around $260 to $290. Last, you’ll probably want to train your dog. Puppy classes cost an average of $110, so be sure to factor that into your first-year dog budget.

Recurring Costs

Now that you've budgeted for first-time costs, it’s time to tackle recurring costs. You will have to budget for these expenses every year of your dog’s life. Of course, your dog will need to eat. Depending on its size, dog food should cost anywhere from $212 to $400 each year. Spoiling your pooch with toys and treats will cost an additional $40 to $70 annually. If your town requires that you apply for a dog license, you can expect to spend about $15 per year on that.

You should also set aside money for routine medical expenses, such as medications, vaccinations and treatment if your dog gets sick. Medical expenses should cost around $210 to $260, depending on the dog. If you plan to purchase health insurance for your dog, expect to budget an additional $225 per year. It’s important to note that purebred dogs experience more health issues than mutts, so many purebred owners do purchase insurance. Also, keep in mind that as dogs get older, the chances of health problems increase, so it’s a good idea to set aside some extra cash in a doggy emergency fund, just in case.

Additional Costs

Aside from meeting the basic needs of your dog, there are several other extra expenses of which to be aware. If you like to travel, you will need to pay for someone to look after your dog. Whether you choose a pet sitter or boarding, you can expect to pay between $40 and $60 per night for dog care. If you work out of the home, you might consider hiring a dog walker. This can cost anywhere between $15 and $45 per day for one dog, depending on your needs. Another alternative to a dog walker is doggy daycare, which costs $30 to $40 per day.

Another big extra cost to keep in mind is grooming. If you have a long-haired breed or a dog whose coat requires a lot of maintenance, you should set aside money for grooming. This is estimated to cost $264 to $408 per year, depending on the size and coat of the dog. Finally, you should set aside a bit of cash for miscellaneous expenses. The ASPCA estimates these miscellaneous costs will run anywhere from $35 to $65 per year.

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