This Is How Much It Really Costs to Own a Dog

This Is How Much It Really Costs to Own a Dog

Vet bills, shelters, grooming, pet sitters, and more can take a huge bite out of your wallet. Here's the lowdown on what it really costs—and tangible ways to save a little kibble.

Is there a doc in the house?

Ill retriever in veterinary clinic.Olimpik/Shutterstock

The cost of owning a dog is arguably worth it for a furry friend. But dog owners pay around $800 annually in veterinary costs, according to a recent National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). Basics like flea and tick protection are a given, but an unplanned vet visit due to injury or illness can be costly. Amy Nelson of Catonsville, Maryland is considering pet insurance after a recent scare when her puppy, Blue, suddenly stopped eating and became lethargic. "The vet, who seemed alarmed by Blue's lethargy, expressed concern that she might have ingested something or be very sick," she recalls. Blood work, X-rays, and $550 later, nothing conclusive was found, but happily, Blue got better. "In the end, I'd say the peace of mind was worth it," says Nelson. When she wasn't yet paying for insurance, fear was the emotional cost of owning a dog. Rob Jackson, co-founder and CEO of Healthy Paws Pet Insurance, says if Amy had had pet insurance, Blue would have been covered "for all accidents, injuries, and illnesses, barring any preexisting conditions." Monthly plans with most pet insurance companies start at around $20 per month.

Kibble and treats

Cute funny dogs eating dry food at homeAfrica Studio/Shutterstock

Dog owners spend an average of $200 on kibble and $75 on treats per year, with that number going up for larger dogs. "While pricey foods tend to have higher-quality ingredients, like in human food, you need not overspend to buy dog food," says Kristen Levine, pet expert and blogger at Kristen Levine Pet Living. Check with your vet about the specific needs of your pup, and then shop according to your budget. Buying dog food in large quantities and properly storing it to keep it fresh will help defray the costs. As far as those tempting treats, try making your own. "Look to a reputable source for healthy pet recipes or use only ingredients you know are okay for your pet to ingest," recommends Levine. Check out these pet products you can make at home to save some cash.

These paws were made for walking

Active senior woman with dog on a walk in a beautiful autumn nature. Rear view.Halfpoint/Shutterstock

Exercise is not only good for your pup's health, but it also helps with behavior issues. Dogs that aren't walked enough get bored and, as a result, chew on your new boots (increasing your annual pet-owning costs). Tonya Wilhelm, a natural and holistic dog training expert at Raising Your Pets Naturally, recommends two to three daily walks to develop and maintain their socializing, bonding, and leash skills. Keep in mind that puppies need more potty breaks. "A puppy can typically go three to four hours while sleeping inside his crate before needing to go outside to relieve himself," notes Wilhelm. Since Mama (or Papa) needs to work, daily walks from a professional dog walker may be a necessary expense to consider before getting a dog. Depending on the city where you live, one daily walk can range from $10 to $20. That can add up quickly. Options for cutting down the cost of owning a dog are shooting home for lunch to walk your dog, working from home occasionally, or taking your dog to work. Surprisingly, some employers do allow furry colleagues.

This Is How Much It Really Costs to Own a Dog, Source: