How Much Does it Cost to Own a Dog?

Owning a dog is not unlike having a young child. Like kids, dogs need regular care, attention, and supervision. However, unlike kids, dogs never truly grow up. Your pet will always need you to care for him. Dogs also need things—myriad items such as bowls, brushes, toys, and more. Adding a dog to your life means buying bag after bag of dog food, making regular trips to the vet, and in many cases, attending training classes. And unlike your kids, your dog has no chance of earning a scholarship to pay for his education. Keeping a dog happy and healthy takes time and effort. It also takes a fair amount of money.

The Initial Expense

The first cost nearly all dog owners encounter is the price of the pets themselves. Buying a purebred animal from a breeder can cost an owner a pretty penny. The more in demand a particular breed is at the moment, the more a breeder may charge for that dog. Adoption can be a great way to save a life and a little cash, but you mustn't expect a rehomed dog to be free. Many breed rescues charge almost as much as some breeders do. Even shelters require adoption fees so that they can continue to care for the many animals surrendered to them.

Prepping for Homecoming

Before you can take your new dog home, you will need to purchase a few basic necessities. The most expensive of these is usually a crate. This simple enclosure can serve numerous purposes. For starters, it can be an invaluable housetraining aid, but it can also provide your pet with a quiet place to nap, eat, and enjoy special treats. It is also the perfect place for your dog when you cannot watch him properly. Additionally, your dog will need the following items by the time of his homecoming:

  • leash and collar
  • feeding supplies
  • grooming supplies
  • toys

None of these provisions are terribly expensive individually, but together they can add up to a considerable investment.

Ongoing Costs

Once you have covered all the basics, you must then prepare for ongoing expenses. Some of these, such as food and routine veterinary care, are non-negotiable. A yearly physical is a must for an adult dog. Puppies and older pets may need to be seen more often. If you opt to have your pet professionally groomed, you also must consider this cost as well.

Many breeds and mixed breeds alike enjoy taking part in organized activities. From traditional pastimes such as advanced obedience training and conformation to sports like agility and rally obedience, the number of options at your disposal may surprise you. The costs of practicing, entering, and traveling to these events may also come with a bit of sticker shock.

If you think of the money you spend on your dog as an investment, you must also weigh how much your dog will give back to you. While your canine companion isn't likely to make you any money, he will almost certainly improve your life in ways that a large bank balance never will. The best return on investment an owner can receive comes directly from a dog's heart.

Tammy Gagne is a freelance writer who specializes in the health and behavior of companion animals. A two-time Dog Writers Association of America writing competition nominee, she has written more than pet care books for adults and children. She lives in New England with her husband, son, and myriad furry and feathered creatures.


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