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can i afford a dog
20 May 2020

Can I Afford a Dog? The Average Cost of Owning a Dog Explained

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Dogs are truly man’s best friend.

With 63 million dog owners in the United States alone, we’re continually proving the unshakeable bond between us.

And while dogs are an amazing animal to have around, as they provide excellent company, can you actually afford one?

Adopting a dog comes with many hidden financial cost beyond the initial fee. So before you take the plunge, you’ll need to ask yourself, “Can I afford a dog?”

Many dogs find themselves without a home because their owners didn’t properly assess their finances before their adoption.

So read on to help you calculate some of the hidden fees of owning a dog.

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The Cost of Adoption/Purchasing a Dog

We’re not here to advocate for either purchasing a dog or adopting one, but there are fees often associated with both.

If you purchase a dog from a breeder, this can be a few hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending on the breed. If you choose to purchase a dog, you’ll want to ensure that you do some serious research so that you know you’re not being ripped off. Puppies of certain breeds can go for thousands, but people looking to scam people can also inflate the price hoping you won’t have done your homework.

Adopting a dog from a shelter is much less expensive. Most shelters will ask for an adoption fee, which is usually a donation to the shelter itself. Depending on the shelter, the fee may vary depending on the dog’s breed or age. Puppies are often in high demand, as are younger dogs and dogs of certain breeds.

Other shelters may simply charge a flat fee for the adoption of all dogs.

Dog Food

Dog food isn’t very expensive when you first adopt your dog. But, as you get to know one another, you may discover your dog has certain allergies or cannot tolerate certain types of food.

Most vets also are cautious about feeding dogs the type of food you can purchase at the grocery store, and will often recommend more expensive food.

Depending on your dog’s allergies, and a wide range of other factors, dog food can be relatively cheap or expensive. Some people spend less than $20 a month on dog food, while others spend nearly $100 a month or more.

You need to take into account the type of food you’d like to feed your dog, and knowing that they may need special food down the line.


Most responsible owners have pet insurance. This is incredibly important, as you may financially devastate yourself if you decide not to buy it.

Sure, the extra $25 or so a month may eat into your beer money, but if your dog has an accident or gets sick, you could be looking at a bill of several thousand dollars.

To boot, if the condition is chronic, this means you can never have it covered, as it is pre-existing. Then, you’ll be stuck with expensive vet bills for the rest of your best friend’s life.

Insurance will vary depending on where you live, the policy, the age of the dog and any pre-existing conditions. It’s worth factoring in the per month cost of it before it becomes a bigger financial burden. It may become so burdensome that you’ll need to take out a personal loan.

Not having insurance is a mistake many dog owners make. They may skimp and then find themselves underwater with a dog who has a condition they cannot afford to help. This often leads to owners surrendering dogs, so it is important that you prevent this before it happens.

Making sure you get insurance while your dog is young before any of its conditions become pre-existing is imperative.

Vet Bills

So, we just spoke about the importance of insurance, but you’ll also need to pay vet bills every once in a while. No insurance will cover everything for your dog, and there will be procedures or shots they’ll need that the insurance doesn’t cover.

Additionally, most insurances will have a deductible, as they do with insurance for people. As such, you’ll be financially responsible for a certain portion of the bill, depending on your level of coverage.

Everyone needs to factor in accidents and financial surprises when they budget, and this is something you’ll need to do if you own a dog.

Miscellaneous Costs

When you have a dog, you can’t just make plans and leave your house the way you used to. If you go away overnight, you’ll most need someone to come to stay with your dog. If you go away on vacation, you’ll need to board your dog or hire someone to house sit for you.

While this isn’t an added cost every month, it’s still something to consider. Any time you go on vacation, you’ll need to consider what to do with your dog.

Other miscellaneous costs include things like a collar, an identification tag, grooming (if your dog has long hair), beds, crates and leashes. You may also need to pay someone to walk your dog should you become ill or have no one else in your household who can do so.

So, Can I Afford a Dog?

We hope this post has helped you answer the question of, “Can I afford a dog?”

While we can’t answer that question for you, we hope we’ve given you a sense of what you’ll need to budget for when living with a dog.

Owning a dog is one of the most rewarding things you can do, but being able to give it a good life is extremely important.

Looking for more information on finance and budgeting? Read our blog now.