This article discusses the financial aspect of owning a dog. You will learn ways to save money on all your dog’s needs including adoption fee, vet bills, and basic necessities. This article may contain affiliate links, for more information please see my disclosure policy.
I wanted to start a new series about how to save money when you are making large purchases. After making a few large purchases over the last few years I have learned a lot about how to get the most bang for the buck. The information provided is based partly on my own experience but mainly relies on research to fill in the details. I really hope you find this helpful when making your own major money moves
Many people and families love having dogs in their lives. Dogs offer companionship, loyalty, and friendship. Dogs are a lot of fun, however, they also come with added financial responsibility.
I will show you how to save some money if you are thinking about or already own a dog. I break down the biggest spending categories for owning a dog and how different options vary in price.
Before jumping to all the numbers, get hype with some adorable pictures of my fur-babies!!!!
Homing a Dog
When you go to adopt a dog there is normally some type of “rehoming”/adoption fee. The price will vary greatly depending on where you get your dog from. While the initial price of the dog might seem steep, it is rather small compared to the expenses of a dog over its life.
Typically this will be your cheapest option. Adoption fees at a shelter usually range from $50-$300 and can sometime vary by the age of the dog; older dogs (2+ year olds) will be cheaper because they are seen as less desirable than puppies. Your adoption fee will go towards running the shelter and helping more animals get adopted later.
The real savings on getting a dog from a shelter is that the dogs are up to date on their shots and they are most likely already spayed or neutered. This will easily save your hundreds of dollars in vet bills down the line.
Going to a breeder is good if you are looking for a specific breed of dog but it will cost you. Prices for dogs can vary greatly depending on the prestige and bloodline of the dogs but typically dogs will be $600-$1000+ with some expensive exceptions if you are looking for a rare breed.
Normally you will get a young puppy from a breeder. They should be update on their shots so far but will require the last couple rounds of shots as well as being spayed/neutered
Some pet stores have puppies available for sale. Pet stores tend to be the most expensive at around $1200-$1800+ for a puppy. One of the reasons for this cost is because a pet store has a lot more overhead than a shelter or breeder would.
Puppies from pet stores should be up to date on shots but might still need a few more as well as sprayed/neutered. Sometimes pet stores will include merchandise such as a crate, food, or toys which will save you a few bucks.
Vet bills can easily add up to the most expensive cost of owning a dog. Let’s look at some different options and how you can save on each.
Yearly Shots and Check Up
Your dog will need to have a set of shots annually. The shots might include all or some for Rabies, Bordetella, Distemper, Lyme, Parvo, and more.
Vaccine Clinic – The cheapest way to get these annual shots for your dog would be at a vaccine clinic. Keep your eye out at your local pet store and shelters or check online to see when clinics are being held. You should be able to find a couple clinics a month in your area. I was able to get all the shots for my dog at a clinic for just under $30.
The cost of the vaccine clinic normally just covers the shots and does not include an overall check up on your pup.
Vet – You can also schedule an annual checkup at your vet where they will administer your dog’s yearly shots. The visit would also serve as a checkup to your dog’s overall health and could possible alert you to any issues your dog might have (and save money on emergency vet bills).
The price of a checkup and shots at a vet will vary but the average range is from $75-$125.
Unless you plan on breeding your dog, it is always a good idea to get them spayed/neutered.
Clinic – Similar to the vaccines, you can normally find a clinic that offers a lower cost option for spay/neuter. If you have trouble finding one, ask your local shelter where they have their dogs spayed since shelters typically use low cost vets. Check out the ASPCA’s spay and neuter clinic website to find local clinics.
If you use a clinic for your dog’s surgery it should run you between $100-$200.
Vet – Another option to spay or neuter your pup is to have your vet do it. Your vet will typically be more expensive than a clinic because they only do a couple a day whereas the clinic will do somewhere around 20+ a day. Vet bills for spay/neuter can vary greatly but expect to pay $300-$500+.
Your dog will require some medication/treatments all year round and the occasional one off medicine from the vet. Your dog will most likely be on heart worm protection which typically consists of one pill a month and during the warmer months he will need flea and tick protection.
Depending on what brand/type of prevention medicine, you can expect to spend between $15-$40 per month for medicine. Even though this might seem a little expensive, vet visits or lymes disease or heartworms could be even more.
Emergency and Specialty Care
Unfortunately accidents happen, and when it comes to dogs, care for accidents can be expensive. I can’t really give you an exact number on what a specific emergency care costs, but I do know some examples from experience
- Our dog starts limping around and we rush to the vet before they were going to close in 15 minutes. Roxy proceeded to run around at the vet, no limp whatsoever. The vet guess that her leg simply fell asleep….smh. Cost: $100 for the exam and some doggy Advil
- My dad’s dog had a problem with one of her teeth. She needed to go to a specialist doggy dental surgeon to have it removed. Cost: $900
- My neighbor’s dog ate a pack of sugar-free gum (the artificial sweetener cannot be processed by dogs). The dog spent two days at the emergency vet for treatment. Cost: $1800
You always hope that nothing happens, but you should be prepared for unexpected emergency expenses.
Food and Treats
If you walk down the dog food aisle, you will notice a wide range on prices.You might have to do your own research on what kind of food you want to feed your dog, but as long as your dog does not have any major allergies you can typically pick whatever brand (and price) you want.
For dogs that require special food such as grain-free look for generic store brands, such as Costco’s “Nature’s Domain”, to save. My dogs love it and it is less than half the price of the name brand grain-free food.
The amount you will spend on food will also vary greatly depending on how much your dog eats so factor that in as you are picking out your dog. My two large dogs go through a 35 lbs bag of food in about 3 weeks. Our friend’s 5 lbs dog takes a year to go through a similar sized bag.
Some people give their dogs treats all the time and others rarely do. These category might vary a lot from person to person but in order to get the most bang for your buck, try buying larger bulk packages.
Also typically milk bone style treats are cheaper than the moist/chewy treats.
You can also experiment with making your own treats from ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Pinterest is a great resource to find recipes!
My friends and I have found that Ibotta almost always has at 15% off Petsmart deal (in-store purchases only), all you have to do is scan your receipt. If you use this link to sign up for Ibotta, you get $10 after you redeem your first offer (that’s a couple free toys!)
Certain types of dogs require extensive grooming while others are fine with just the occasional bath and brushing. To save the most money on grooming opt for a breed that falls into the latter. Your only grooming expenses will be some shampoo and a brush, about $10 or so a year.
For breeds that require grooming, a typical bath and haircut will run from $50-$100+ depending on the size and breed of the dog. To save money on breeds that need regular grooming, opt for haircuts that have a long growth cycle so you can stretch out the time in between grooming.
I have learned to get our goldendoodle’s hair cut short so that he can go 3-4 months between haircuts. When we have the groomer leave it relatively long he has to go back in 6 weeks for another $100 haircut
You could also save a lot by learning how to cut your dog’s hair yourself (if you are brave enough/your dog is chill enough)
You will need to have a plan for your dog if you ever need to go out of town for a few days.
The cheapest and usually free option would to have a trusted friend or family member watch him. You could also bring your dog with you for pretty cheap although if you are staying at hotels, keep in mind there could be extra fees for having a pet.
If none of those options work you will probably need to kennel your dog or hire a dog sitter. Prices can vary greatly depending on the services but plan to spend $20-$40+ per day. We have had good luck finding great sitters on Rover.com that are reasonably priced
Crate, Leash, Collar
A crate, leash, and collar are all good ideas when you have a dog. Typically if you are looking to save money, avoid fancy pet stores and shop online for better deals.
For a crate, try checking craigslist or local garage sales to score the best deals. Crates will vary depending on size but plan to spend $50-$100 on one for a medium size dog.
Bones and Chew Toys etc
It’s important to keep your dog entertained (or they might start making toys out of your belongings), and one of the best ways to do that is with toys and bones.
An easy way to save on toys is to make some of your own with materials you already have around the house. Check out this list of tutorials for making dog toys out of things from around your house.
You can also normally find holiday themed clearance toys after major holiday to score toys for cheap (I promise your dog doesn’t know he is playing with a snowman toy in July :))
To save on bones, opt for ones that will last a while. Nylabones come in varying strengths and can last months.
The Unpredictable/My Dog is a A-Hole
One last note, there are also a lot of unpredictable costs to owning a dog. A few examples might be…
*cough* your puppy loves to chew everything including puncturing a bottle of Gorilla Glue that dries all over the carpet in the apartment you are renting *cough*
or *cough* when the same said dog tries to jump through the window in your new house to chase a bunny and breaks your $2000 window….. *cough*
annnnnddddd that’s why you should have an emergency fund 🙂
As you can see there are many ways to save money and still have a dog. Just remember to make money smart decisions and you don’t have to break the bank to own a dog
Please carefully consider if you are ready for the financial burden that is a pet before you adopt a furry friend.
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