How Much Does a Dog Cost per Year?

You’ve probably thought about how much you’ll spend on food and toys, but dogs come with many more expenses than you may realize. Here, a vet explains.

Written by Dr. Jamie Whittenburg / December 22, 2021

Quick Bites

  • Besides the cost of adopting or purchasing a dog from a breeder, you’ll want to factor in ongoing expenses for your dog’s care.
  • It’s helpful to tally what your annual costs may be and build up some savings well before you bring your dog home.
  • Initial medical costs, such as for vaccines and spaying and neutering, can run $50 to $500.
  • Don’t forget doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker, which can get expensive.

Dogs are truly man’s best friend, and they can bring so much joy to your life. They’re also a significant financial commitment.

Like any major commitment, it’s helpful to do some research before you bring a dog into your life. After all, your dog may live more than 15 years. Dogs require food, shelter and medical care. They also come with unique expenses, such as grooming, environmental enrichment and training.

So how much does a dog cost per year? Below are the factors to consider before adopting a furry best friend. Before taking the plunge, consider the impact of the decision on your finances and determine whether or not you can handle the added costs.

Inside this article

  1. Cost of owning a dog
  2. Annual expenses
  3. Unexpected expenses
  4. Covering the costs

Cost of owning a dog

The expense you’ll face depends on factors such as the dog’s breed, age, intended use and health status. But the costs of owning a dog generally include medical care, food, grooming, toys and treats, and general pet care.

Because getting a dog is a commitment for the life of the dog, it’s essential to stay level-headed when you make this decision.

The American Veterinary Medical Association warns against “impulsive” dog adoptions or purchases. It advises that you recognize “that owning a pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.”[1]

First-Year Costs to Own a Dog

There are many upfront costs to consider when adding a new dog to your family, and these expenses are likely to be two to three times the typical annual expense for the dog.

The major first-year costs of owning a dog include:

  • Initial purchase or adoption fee: $100 to $2,500

  • Veterinary care: $375 to $1,875

  • Dog supplies

Initial Expenses

The first expense to account for is for getting your new dog. You can:

  • Purchase a dog from a breeder as a puppy: $500 to $2,500

  • Rescue one from a shelter or other organization: $100 to $500

If you want a particular breed, a reputable breeder may be the way to go. The cost of a purebred puppy from a breeder can vary widely, but, from my experience, most puppies will cost $500 to $2,500.

Precede your purchase with diligent research to find a trusted and high-quality breeder. The best way to find a good breeder is to ask your veterinarian for referrals. Good breeders can also often be found through local breed organizations and the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Another excellent option for getting a dog is your local animal shelter or pet rescue. Rescued dogs are often wonderful pets that have found themselves without homes through no fault of their own. Many purebreds end up in shelters and rescues, so you can often find any desired breed with some searching.

Adopting from a shelter or rescue may cost anywhere from $100 to $500. These dogs will likely come fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered. This can make a big difference in initial costs for a dog.

Initial Medical Expenses

Once you have a new dog, there are other costs to consider. The first one will be an office visit with your dog’s veterinarian.

The cost of the dog’s first veterinary visit will vary greatly depending on the dog’s requirement for vaccines, flea, tick and heartworm prevention, and possible spaying or neutering. It’s safe to budget $50 to $500 for these initial treatments.

A new puppy will require multiple visits in its first six months of life for vaccines. Vaccines are essential to protect the dog from life-threatening diseases such as parvovirus. All dogs also have a legal requirement for a rabies vaccine.

Primary vaccines will likely cost anywhere from $200 to $500 over a period of 12 to 20 weeks.

Unless they’re to be used for breeding, dogs should be spayed or neutered. The timing of the surgery varies widely based on breed, size, intended use and the surgeon’s preference. A spay surgery typically runs between $200 and $800, while a neuter surgery typically costs between $100 and $500.

An additional initial cost for a new dog you might want to consider is microchipping. This quick and easy procedure typically costs between $25 and $75 and is vital to ensure the dog’s safe return in case it’s ever lost.

Dog Supplies

A new dog will require some supplies such as dog food, a dog bed, leash, collar and activity toys. You may also need to think about obedience classes or other training resources.

Annual expenses for your dog

The AKC reports the cost of owning a dog ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 annually. However, certain factors, especially unexpected illness, can raise this number over $10,000.[2]

After the initial expenses of getting the dog are covered, it’s time to budget for caring for it long-term. Here’s a look at some of the annual recurring expenses you can expect.

Food

Expect to pay: $200 to $700 per year

What a dog is fed has a significant impact on its overall health. Dietary needs for dogs vary based on age, activity level and health status. The best source of information on diet for your dog is your veterinarian.

There are many options for formulating a dog’s diet, but a typical high-quality dog food will likely cost $200 to $700 per year, depending on your dog’s size and needs.

Toys

Expect to pay: Around $100 per year

Dogs are intelligent creatures, and they require adequate entertainment, mental stimulation and exercise. The dog toy market is vast, and there are many options to keep dogs happy.

Choose toys based on safety and your dog’s preferences. In my experience, you can expect to spend around $100 a year on toys fordogs. However, many owners splurge in this category and may spend three to four times this amount.

When budgeting for dog toys, consider what types of toy the dog prefers and whether they’re a strong or destructive chewer. Some dogs tend to destroy their toys very quickly and may need frequent replacements.

Leashes, Collars and Beds

Expect to pay: $75 to $250 per year

Every dog will need a collar and leash or harness for traveling outside the home. Identification tags with your and your vet’s contact information should be attached to the dog’s collar. This equipment typically costs most owners between $25 and $50 per year.

Puppies that are rapidly growing require frequent new collars as they get bigger, whereas a mature dog may wear a collar for many years before you need to replace it.

Dogs love to cozy up in a plush, warm bed. Many older dogs even require certain orthopedic or very fluffy beds to ease joint pain.

Dog beds are priced according to size and materials. A higher-quality dog bed will cost more initially but is likely to last much longer, as well. Figure on spending $50 to $200 a year on dog bedding.

Grooming

Expect to pay: $50 to $600 per year

Not all dogs require grooming, but dogs that have hair, as opposed to fur, will constantly grow and must be groomed regularly. However, even short-coated breeds need regular nail trims and baths.

The grooming cost will vary dramatically based on your dog’s breed, but a typical dog owner spends between $50 and $600 annually on dog grooming, including brushes and shampoos.

Veterinary Care

Expect to pay: $200 to $500 per year, more for older dogs

One of the most significant expenses to anticipate, regular veterinary care is a vital component of keeping your dog healthy. Every dog should visit their veterinarian a minimum of once a year, but preferably every six months.

These routine veterinary visits include any necessary vaccines, and most importantly, a thorough wellness exam from the veterinarian. Dogs can’t speak, so it’s essential to have a doctor examine them for any signs of ill health. Illnesses caught early are much more likely to be curable.

Annual veterinary costs include exams, vaccines, lab work and fecal testing. These typically run between $200 and $500.

As dogs age, they require more veterinary care, including an annual dental prophylaxis and medications. These costs can easily top $1,000.

Preventive Medications

Expect to pay: $100 to $500 per year

A dog will require preventative medications to control heartworms, fleas, ticks and other parasites. Preventative medications usually cost an average of $100 to $500 per year. For information about which of the many options is best, consult your veterinarian.

Dog Walking, Sitting, Boarding

Expect to pay: $500 to $5,000 per year

Dogs can quickly become bored if left at home alone for long periods. Dogs also need to urinate and defecate outside frequently.

If you’re not available throughout the day, you may need to hire a dog walker. The usual cost annually falls between $500 and $5,000, according to HomeGuide estimates.[3] Due to the variation and possibly high cost, if you use a dog walker, this is an expense you should carefully budget for.

As much as all owners wish they could be with their dogs at all times, you’ll probably find it necessary to leave your dog behind at times when you travel. You could hire a pet sitter to come to your home and care for the dog, or board them in a pet hotel. In my estimation, if you go away twice a year, you can expect to spend between $200 and $400.

Unexpected expenses

Unfortunately, many unexpected situations can arise in a dog’s life. Have a plan to cover emergency or urgent expenses before they happen.

Unexpected expenses that may occur in the life of a dog include:

  • Emergency or after-hours veterinary visits

  • Hospital stays

  • Chronic illnesses

  • Major surgeries

  • Natural disasters and evacuations

These unfortunate situations can require a significant cost all at once, which can be very difficult for many dog owners to manage.

A trip to the emergency hospital for your dog can easily run from $1,000 to $5,000.

A lengthy hospital stay for an ill dog will often total $1,000 to $3,000, or more, depending on the illness or injury.

Unexpected surgeries can cost $5,000 to over $10,000.

Preparing for Emergency Expenses

One way to be prepared for these emergency situations is to purchase pet health insurance. These policies can be life-saving in the event of a considerable medical expense. However, very few pet insurance companies will cover pre-existing conditions, so these policies work best if you purchase them when the dog is young and healthy.

Alternatively, any dog can be protected from unforeseen expenses with a savings account. Set up an account and keep the funds available to cover any emergencies your dog has.

If an unexpected expense arises, and you don’t have pet insurance or a savings account, most veterinarians offer financing options through programs like Scratchpay and CareCredit. Though these plans charge interest, they can be a life-saving option for your pet if you’re in a tight spot.

Covering the costs of owning a dog

The best advice for potential dog owners is to save an adequate amount of money before bringing a dog home. If you have enough money to care for a dog properly, you’ll be able to enjoy the experience without the stress of worrying about money.

Before you get a dog, save at least three to six months’ worth of expenses for the dog. Also research pet insurance or set up a medical savings account before adding a dog to your family.

To prepare your finances for pet ownership:

  1. Set aside typical monthly expenses for the dog for three to six months in a separate account. You can use these funds for initial expenses and to get ahead on monthly costs.

  2. Build the expected monthly expenses into your family’s budget before bringing the dog into your family. This will prepare you for what it’ll be like to care for the new pet financially. Remedy any shortfalls or financial difficulties with the new budget before you get a dog.

  3. Think of strategies to make dog ownership more affordable. Coming home from work at lunchtime or finding a neighbor willing to help out can dramatically reduce dog walker expenses, for example. Talk to a vet about the most cost-effective healthy food for the dog. The vet can also help in sourcing affordable flea, tick and heartworm preventive medications.

For more on the costs of owning a pet, see our stories on whether you should buy pet insurance, what pet insurance covers and doesn’t cover, how to insure exotic pets and pets with pre-existing conditions, and more.

Article Sources
  1. American Veterinary Medical Association. “Guidelines for responsible pet ownership.” https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/avma-policies/guidelines-responsible-pet-ownership.
  2. American Kennel Club. “How Much Will You Spend on Your Dog in His Lifetime?” https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/lifestyle/how-much-spend-on-dog-in-lifetime.
  3. HomeGuide. “How Much Do Dog Walkers Charge?” https://homeguide.com/costs/dog-walking-prices.

About the Author

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg DVM

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg

Dr. Jamie Whittenburg is a veterinarian with over 15 years experience. She works with cats, dogs, and small exotic pets.

Full bio

Related Content