The True Cost Of Owning A Dog: Can You Really Afford That Furry Friend?

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Brown dog with stacks of cash (caption: The Cost Of Owning A Dog)

The joy a dog can bring to your family is priceless, but the reality is that owning a dog comes with ongoing costs for years that many don’t consider when they first adopt. Can you afford a dog for the long haul? We’ll help give you an idea of what expenses you can expect.

Can I Afford A Dog?

The cost of owning a dog can vary widely depending on the breed, where you live, health conditions that may arise and other factors. After the initial expenses of adopting a dog and buying all the accessories you need (see our table below), your monthly cost of a dog could run you anywhere from $27 to $165.

Keep in mind, however, that these figures are for basic costs and don’t take into account any extra expenses you might have to incur, like dog walking or pet sitting and emergency vet visits.

Annual Cost Of Owning A Dog

We’ve broken down the average cost of a dog per year in this table. As you can see, these ranges vary widely. But it’s a good starting point to give you a general idea.1

ExpensesFirst YearEach Year Following
Adoption Fee$0-$350+N/A
Routine Care & Vaccines$100-$350$80-$250
Heartworm Prevention$24-$120$36-$132
Flea/Tick Prevention $40-$200$40-$200
Collar & ID Tag$16-$60$0-$50
Food & Water Bowls$10-$50N/A
Treats & Dental Chews$50-$300$50-$300
Crate & Dog Bed$25–250$0-$250

Average Annual Dog Care Costs By State

Below is a breakdown of how much dog care costs in each U.S. state. The total includes a fixed annual estimate for food ($408), toys ($35), grooming ($140), flea and tick medications ($272), and boarding ($280).2 Keep in mind that these numbers can vary depending on several factors, including geographic location.

Among the places with the highest yearly costs for pet care expenses are California, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The most affordable states are Florida, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota.

StateRegular Vet ExpensesLicenses/Fees (for spayed/neutered dogs)Pet InsuranceTotal (not including emergency costs)
New Hampshire$247$8$482.59$1,868
New Jersey$209$16$495.89$1,856
New Mexico$230$6$442.34$1,803
New York$247$9$603.19$2,010
North Carolina$225$10$399.17$1,759
North Dakota$216$5$338.76$1,685
Rhode Island$242$12$453.65$1,839
South Carolina$213$5$383.35$1,726
South Dakota$212$5$339.07$1,687
West Virginia$213$4$369.00$1711

Additional Expenses To Consider

Of course, the cost of dog ownership can get expensive if you have extra needs, like pet sitting, training and grooming. Here are some of the extras you may need to consider.

Dog Walking

Person Walking Dogs

If you’re at work all day and don’t have a family member who can take your dog out for a potty break during the day, you’ll need to factor in dog walking costs. Typically, starting costs are $15 per 30-minute walk for a professional dog walker. So you should budget at least $300 per month if you need this service regularly.

Pet Sitting/Boarding

If you like to travel and can’t bring your pup, you may need to board him at a kennel or hire a pet sitter. The national average for boarding is $40 per night per dog. Hiring a professional pet sitter typically runs an average of $20-$40 per day (or $40-$80 per night) for one to come to your home. Of course, these costs differ depending on where you live, how many pets you have and the types of services you want.


Basic obedience training classes can run as low as $250 per year if you only sign up for a few group classes. We have also heard stellar reviews from people who used online dog training services and it is a fraction of the cost of in-home trainers. However, hiring a professional trainer who will come to your home to work with your dog will be much higher. Learn more about training for basic commands and aggressive dogs.

Professional Grooming

Dog being groomed (text in image: How to groom dogs)

Long-haired breeds or dogs with thick, unruly coats require regular special grooming (including hair trimming) at least once a month. If you don’t have the time or patience, you might want to go with a professional groomer.

Major grooming costs can run over $1,000 per year. But even short-haired dogs need a basic wash and nail trimming once a month — and the cost for these basic professional grooming services start at $30 per session.

If you want to save major bucks, you can groom your dog at home with these home grooming tips and kits.

Illness & Emergency Vet Care

Even the heartiest of dogs can fall ill, develop unexpected health conditions, or be involved in accidents requiring expensive vet care that could cost anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars. A monthly investment in pet insurance, however, can help save you from such a major financial hit.

Should I Finance My Pet?

The short answer, no. Taking out pet loans to adopt a new furry friend into your family isn’t a great idea. There are so many other costs associated with being a pet parent. If you cannot afford the initial expense of purchasing the pet, you’ll likely struggle to pay for the pet’s basic needs (food, vet care, toys, grooming, etc.).

What About Loans For Vet Bills?

In a survey of 760 pet owners, 13% would take out a personal loan, and 37% would turn to a credit card if a $1,000 pet-related emergency expense were to arise.1 As you can see, it’s not the strangest thing to take out pet loans, but pet insurance may prevent you from going into debt. Find out if pet insurance is worth it for your needs.

Video: How Much Does Vet Care Cost?

Pet care costs are on the rise! We made this quick 1 minute video that summarizes some of the surprising stats.

Should I Consider Pet Insurance?

Cartoon of veterinarian petting dog next to piggy bank (Caption: Start Saving Money On Vet Bills, Compare Pet Insurance Rates In Minutes; Button Text: Get My Quotes)

One of the highest unknown costs when you own a dog is health care expenses. It’s almost impossible to budget for pet accidents or serious health conditions that can arise at any time.

The best way to plan wisely for these situations is to purchase pet health insurance and the younger the dog, the better your prices and coverage will be. See our top pet health insurance picks to learn more.

Since premiums can vary widely, we recommend getting several pet insurance quotes before making a decision. You can use our quote form to instantly get quotes from all of our top rated companies. It’s a smart way to safeguard against unexpected hefty vet bills and have the peace of mind that you’ll never have to sacrifice your pet’s well-being because you can’t afford expensive treatment.

Sources: [1] PetFinder, [2] TakeSpruce, [3] LendingTree

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