October 13, 2016 11:59 pm

Cost of Owning a Dog: The Truth

You are ready. The time has come for you to invest in your very own four legged companion, your picture perfect version of “man’s best friend.” However, before we get all caught up in the cuteness and the never ending energy that comes hand in hand with purchasing a dog, let’s talk price. Furry friends make lifetime partners for certain, but lifetime partners come at a price.

Often overlooked by the dog shopper is the actual cost of owning a dog.


cost of owning a dog

So, we’re going to take you back to the basics and even if you think you know, we are going to act as if you know nothing about the cost of owning a dog. We have broken down the most crucial dog related expenses into four categories: Initial Costs, Food Costs, Medical Costs, and lastly, General Costs.

Note: Some of these costs will vary and can be excluded in specific circumstances.

1. Initial Costs 

  • Purchasing the animal - this varies for each individual dog but to keep it simple, if you plan on purchasing a smaller sized pure bred dog, a starting price can be expected to reach about $650.00.
  • Your dog needs a collar and leash for walks of course. Collars tend to sell for about $15.00, with leashes priced around $10.o0. Times each of these numbers by three to account for the expected replacement or duplicate collars/leashes your dog will have over it’s lifespan - $75.00.
  • Here’s one you may not know about, depending on where you live, you may have to purchase a license for your pet, this requires a licensing fee. This is a one time payment paid by the resident of that county for the pet. This can be priced at around $50.00.

Smaller dogs and new puppies often require a crate for housing, living, and/or sleeping purposes.

  • For a smaller dog, a crate may cost about $80.00.
  • Along with the crate, an additional $50.00 can be expected to be spent on bedding. Bedding is generally replaced every 3-4 years, so if you account for the usual 15 years or so that dogs tend to live, that is approximately $200.00 on bedding.
  • Another initial puppy cost is fencing. Portable outside fencing is typically very affordable, a nice sized space can usually be made for about $40.00.
  • On the flip side, if a dog owner opts for indoor electric fencing, that cost could estimate to be around $1,000.00.

If you were to purchase all of these beginner items, you could expect to spend a total of $2,095.00 on initial essentials. 

2. Food Costs 

We will use some well known dog food brands to explain this clearly. Again, keep in mind we are talking about a smaller dog for this entire article.

  • One bag of  “IAMS” Dog Food: $29.00 per bag
  • “Milk bone Dog Treats”: $9.89 per box.
  • “Beggin Strips” Dog Treats: $7.99 per bag.
  • Home cooked meals, chicken, steak, pork (FREE, for special occasions)

For a clear gauge, let’s say the dog goes through 5 “IAMS” Food bags per year (with two scoops per day), 3 Milk Bone Dog Treat boxes per

year, and 4 bags “Beggin Strips” Treats per year.

If this were the case, you would have spent a total of $206.00 on food costs over the course of 1 year, if you times that by 15 years you are paying a total of approximately $3,099.00 on food costs. 

cost of owning a dog

3. Medical Costs 

This category, more than any, will vary by dog. Here are the basic medical costs, assuming you have a perfectly healthy animal that never get’s sick!

  • Preventative shot cost: Rabies: $50.00.
  • Ear infection medication: $50.00. (We included this as it is a frequent ailment that most dogs encounter more than once over the course of their lifetime)
  • Annual Veterinary Check Up: $200.00 (including shot fees):

Total medical cost per year: $300.00. If we times the annual veterinary bill number by 15 (years), this brings the total cost of medical to approximately $3,100.00. Keep in mind this is not including elderly and illness circumstance fees that often arise.

Last but certainly not least, we have included a small list of general items that you may find yourself purchasing from your local Pet Smart or other animal product retail establishment.

4. General Costs

  • Food Bowl: $7.00
  • Water Bowl: $7.00
  • Blanket: $10.00
  • Brush: $3.00
  • Stuffed Animals: $20.00
  • Toys: $50.00
  • Shampoo: $15.00

General purchases totaling out to: $112.00. 

You knew this was coming. After combining all of the initial, food, medical, and general costs that come with owning a dog, your total cost may look something like this:

Total cost of owning a dog, that is small and always healthy: $8,406.