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How Much Does A Dog Cost? A Financial Guide To Owning A Dog

Thinking of getting a dog but not sure how much it costs? We broke down everything you'll need to own a dog and how much it costs per month and year.

Vanessa Armstrong

Updated November 06, 2022 • Published May 19, 2020

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How Much Does A Dog Cost? A Financial Guide To Owning A Dog

Dogs give a lot to us, from undying love, to messy kisses, to being the perfect companion to snuggle with. Taking care of a pup, however, also comes with responsibilities, including making sure you understand how much it could cost to take care of them. Read on to learn what costs are associated with owning a dog, and how much you should budget to ensure your pup stays happy and healthy.

Obviously, costs will vary by location as well as your particular style as a pet parent, but these totals represent an average to help you make important financial decisions before committing to pet ownership. Here's a deep dive into how much it really costs to own a dog.

How Much Dog Food Costs

Food and water are the basic requirements for any living thing, and your dog, of course, is no exception. How much dog food your pet needs in a month as well as the associated cost depends on a variety of factors including the size of your pup (the bigger the dog, the more food they’ll need), and whether they have any dietary restrictions or requirements.

Even if you have a dog that will happily eat anything, it’s worthwhile to get dog food that’s healthy for them (see our article about what dog food ingredients to avoid). Depending on what type of food you choose and the size of your dog, keeping your dog well-fed will probably cost between $30 to $80 a month.

Total: $30-$80/month (depending on dog size and food quality)

How Much Routine Vet Care & Medication Costs

Vets recommend that your dog come in at least once a year for an annual wellness check. Doing so is often also a requirement for getting prescriptions for dog parasite problems, like heartworm and flea/tick medication, which is crucial to keeping your pup happy and healthy. The cost of a routine wellness visit can vary drastically depending on where you live, but will likely fall within $45 to $85 per year.

To stay healthy, your pet will also need to take heartworm medication as well as flea and potentially tick prevention every month. There are several different options out there, and your vet can help you decide what versions are best for your dog. Depending on what you choose, that cost can run from $60 to $120 for a six-month supply.

Total: $14-$27/month (depending on location and specific health needs)

How Much Preventive Health Products Cost

Every dog comes with their own set of needs. But every dog, for example, should have some preventive care, such as having their teeth brushed regularly. Teeth brushing — even if you do it yourself at home — requires purchasing enzymatic dog toothpaste (which is usually poultry-flavored… yum!) or dental chews.

If your dog is anxious or suffers from aches and pains, products like CBD oil might be another wellness item you’d want to provide them. Some pet parents also supplement their dog's diets with extra vitamins, probiotics, and nutrients.

Costs for these items can vary from $0 if your pet doesn’t need any additional wellness products, to over $500 a year if you end up purchasing high-quality wellness products, like CBD or supplements.

Total: $0-$42/month (depending on dog size and specific health needs)

How Much Pet Insurance/Unexpected Medical Events Cost

And then there are those unexpected health and medical costs — those unlikely but possible situations where your dog sadly gets hurt or needs to undergo major medical treatment. These expenses are hard to budget for because they have a low probability of happening, which is why many pet parents wonder if pet insurance is worth it. If they do happen, however, they come not only with a lot of pain and stress for you and your dog, but significant costs as well.

One option to mitigate this potential expense is to get pet insurance. There are several options out there, and you can learn more about them in our pet insurance providers comparison article. The monthly cost varies by the age, breed, and type of coverage you want for your dog, but basic plans usually cost between $30 to $80 a month.

Total: $30-$80/month (depending on size, breed, and circumstances)

How Much Dog Grooming And Bathing Cost

If you don’t mind giving your dog a bath in your own home or backyard, the monthly cost for this might be limited to only a couple of grooming appointments a year to get a sanitary trim and make sure your pup can see through their furry eyebrows.

If you do need to get your dog groomed regularly, the cost can often be more than what you pay to cut your own hair; if you live in a city and/or have a bigger dog, you might have to pay as much as $50 to $100 in certain areas. Looking for a lower cost option that doesn’t require you trying to get your pup into your bathtub? There are some pet chains that let you rent a shower stall for a lower rate, where you can personally wash your pup with the help of the store’s pet cleaning products.

Total: $0-$100/month (depending on your dog's specific needs)

How Much Boarding/Doggie Day Care Costs

If you travel or work a lot, you might also have to factor in doggie day care, dog walkers, and boarding into your monthly pup budget. If you’re using a professional service instead of a family friend or the kid next door, dog walking can cost anywhere from $15 to $35 for a 30-minute walk or $20 to $40 for an all-day doggie day care. Overnight boarding costs even more, with many professionals charging anywhere from $45 to over $100 per night. If you're using the same walker or kennel frequently, they may offer discounts.

Total: $0-$550/month (depending on where you live and how many different services you need)

How Much Other Household Items (Including Toys!) Cost

When you get a dog, there are several items you’ll likely want to buy to make them comfortable in their new home. Their food and water, for example, needs to put in a dish of some sort. And you’ll likely want at least one collar, leash, and a doggie bed for them. There are also other items, like poop bags, that are required to adequately pick up after your pup. And last but not least, they’ll likely want to have a toy or three to keep them occupied. These aren’t recurring costs, for the most part, though if you’re like many pet parents, you might not be able to resist buying them a new toy once in a while. Getting the basics, however, will likely cost at least $50.

Total: $25-$50/month (depending on what you buy and how often)

How Much A Dog Costs Per Month

Average Dog Cost: $99-$929/month*

This number differential is largely because of dogwalking/doggie daycare costs

How Much A Dog Costs Per Year

Average Dog Cost: $1,188-$11,148/year*

This number differential is largely because of dogwalking/doggie daycare costs

As you can see, having a dog isn’t necessarily the cheapest thing in the world, but what you get in return from them is truly priceless. The average yearly cost to own a dog ranges based on your location, your pet parenting style, and general budget restraints, but this article should give you a pretty good sense of what you'll need and how often.

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