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What It Actually Costs to Own a Dog

How much is that doggie in the window?

In 1789, King Frederick of Prussia first said that “dog is man’s best friend” with good reason. According to the 2019–2020 American Pet Products Association National Survey, 63.4 million U.S. households own a dog.
 
Many variables affect the cost of dog ownership, including breed, type of food, and medical treatments — even where you live is a factor. Larger breeds have shorter life expectancies, and they consume large amounts of food daily. They need bigger crates and beds and collars. They might even require a new yard fence.
 
While you won’t need to pay for four years of college for your dog to earn a degree in Barkology, much like a baby, you’re going to want to brace yourself. That first year of ownership can be “ruff.” However, you probably won’t incur all of these costs. For instance, if you have a dog walker, you probably won’t have daycare fees, or maybe your yard is already fenced. As you can see by the ranges, there are ways to lower costs. Still, you’re going to need to budget for your new best friend.
 
The cost of the actual dog will vary depending on the breed and seller. Even shelter and rescue dogs can cost $500 today. To take a bite out of the first-year expenses — and to help ensure the successful forever homes — some organizations set adoption fees that cover certain costs at a greatly discounted rate (marked with an asterisk below)! If you’re adopting a rescue dog, ask what the adoption fee includes.
 
  First-Year Expenses Range Range for Subsequent Years
Dog Purchase/Adoption Fee $0 $5,000+
Wellness Visit* $50 $100 $50 $100
Vaccines* $100 $350 $80 $250
Deworming* $20 $50 $20 $50
Heartworm Tests* $15 $35 $15 $35
Heartworm Prevention* $24 $120 $24 $120
Flea/Tick Prevention* $40 $200 $40 $200
Spaying or Neutering* $150 $300
Microchipping* $40 $60
Licenses1 $12 $60 $12 $15
ID Tag $12 $17
Collar $6 $50
Leash $11 $40
Harness $10 $60
Muzzle $0 $30
Larger Collar, Leash, Harness, Muzzle (for your growing pup) $27 $180
Training Pads $50 $75
Stain/Odor Remover $60 $90
Crate $25 $250
Yard Fence (1/4-acre yard) $3,600 $4,800
Food/Water Bowls $10 $50
Food $320 $800 $320 $800
Bed (replaced every 2 years) $25 $150 $13 $75
Treats/Dental Chews $50 $300 $50 $300
Toothbrushes/Toothpaste2 $31 $87 $31 $87
Dental Cleaning (every 2 years) $200 $700 $100 $350
Poo Bags $12 $24 $12 $24
Grooming (every 6 weeks) $320 $800 $320 $800
Toys $10 $200 $10 $200
Pet Insurance $300 $864 $300 $864
Kenneling/Boarding (14 days/year) $0 $602 $0 $602
Dog Walker Fees (5 days/week for 46 weeks) $0 $5,750 $0 $5,750
Doggie Daycare (5 days/week for 46 weeks) $0 $8,050 $0 $8,050
Hotel Upcharge for
Pet-Friendly Room
(14 nights/year)
$140 $200 $140 $200
  $5,670 $25,444 $1,532 $18,872

Keep in mind, as your dog ages, you may incur additional medical/surgical expenses and might need to purchase training pads, and stain and odor remover, again.
 
Dogs are expensive and they bark, but they are terrific companions. They provide exercise incentive, stress relief, a common family focus, and more unconditional love and loyalty than you can imagine. The value for all that: Priceless.
 
“All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human.
He wasn’t a dog.”
  • Charles M. Schultz, creator of Snoopy

1. In Pennsylvania, your dog will need both a local license and a county license. Counties offer annual or lifetime licenses and discount both options if your dog is spayed or neutered.

2. Replace the brush every four months. Disinfect your dog’s toothbrush in a solution of half vinegar and half water after every use. Air dry.
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