Can You Afford A Dog? Pet Ownership Costs Guide for 2020

There is so much to love about having a dog—the companionship, cuddles, stress relief, and other health benefits. But before you take the big leap into dog ownership, you have to know what it will cost you financially. Each year, too many dogs end up abandoned in shelters because their owners could not afford the various bills affiliated with keeping up with their pets. 

Considering getting a dog? You’re not alone. With the surge of COVID-19, dog sales and  adoptions have risen significantly. If you want a furry friend to keep you company during the pandemic, make sure you know what you’re getting into. 

Upfront Costs

Ready to buy your dog? Great! But before you do, remember that you’ll have a few more expenses beyond adoption fees. Here’s what you can expect.

The Breed

Where you get your dog from plays a big role in how much the animal itself will cost. If you have your heart set on a purebred or designer mix, like these corgi mixes, you can expect to pay anywhere between $500 and $3,000. While you don’t get the same pedigree with most shelter dogs, adopting from a rescue is much more affordable.

Depending on the organization, adoption fees are usually between $50 and $150, with some shelters offering reduced or free fees on select days. Many shelters also offer spay/neuter procedures for their animals for free. 

Initial Vet Visit

No matter where you get your dog from, it’s essential you take them to a veterinarian within the first week of bringing them home. Depending on the age of your dog, their health, and what vaccinations they may still need, this visit will usually cost between $50 and $300. 

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    The Supplies

    Your basic dog supplies will include a leash, collar, bed, food, toys, bowls, leashes, and so on. Expect to pay around $100-$200 for everything you need for the first month. Look for deals and lightly used products on places like Facebook Marketplace to cut costs without sacrificing quality.

    Other Fees

    If you lease an apartment, your landlord may require a pet deposit and/or monthly pet fees. Deposits can range from $100-$300. You’ll also want to consider whether you want to put your dog in training/obedience classes. 

    Ongoing Costs

    Let’s say that you’ve finally gotten you dog, and paid all the upfront costs that you needed to. But you’re not quite done yet. Now you have a few costs that you’ll continually pay, likely for the duration of your pet’s life. Here’s what you can expect. 

    Food, Treats and Toys

    These are perhaps the most obvious costs of dog ownership, and also the most regularly recurring. It’s important to feed your dog high quality food and treats, for which you can expect to pay between $20 and $60 per month. Investing in a healthy diet and lifestyle can help prevent more expensive vet costs down the line. 

    Toys are important for your dog’s mental stimulation and physical activity. Depending on how destructive your dog is (and how much self-control you have when you see a cute toy on the shelf), factor in around $100 per year into your budget.


    Grooming is another cost that will vary based on the size and breed of your dog. Hypoallergenic breeds, while attractive to some dog owners because they shed minimally, need their hair cut on a regular basis. Short-haired breeds on the other hand, such as beagles, Weimaraners, and chihuahuas will not need as frequent trips to the groomer. 

    Over the course of a year, grooming costs dog owners anywhere between $30 and $500. If you are able to do basic grooming on your dog yourself such as regular baths and nail trims, you’ll be able to keep most of this money in your wallet. 

    Pet Sitter or Dog Walker

    When planning for others to care for your dog, consider your lifestyle, including your daily routine and how often you travel.

    If you work long hours and are not able to come home in the middle of the day, you’ll need to budget for a dog walker. On average, dog walkers charge $20 per walk. If you are paying someone for one walk five days a week, you can expect to pay around $400 per month. 

    You’ll also need a plan for your dog when you travel. Generally, boarding is less expensive than paying a pet sitter, but many owners prefer letting their dog stay at home with the individual attention of a sitter. 

    On the other hand, there will be costs if you bring your dog with you on trips, including airline fees and deposits for hotels or airbnbs. 

    Annual Medical Costs

    In addition to a yearly vet visit, (with a price tag of around $200-300), other medical expenses will include preventative care for heartworm, fleas, and ticks. The cost of these supplements will vary based on the size of your dog (as with most other costs covered in this guide, bigger dogs are usually more expensive). 

    Dental care is also something you need to consider. Whether you commit to brushing your dog’s teeth, take them for regular cleanings, or purchase dental treats, their teeth also require care. Each of these options will vary in cost, but are important investments to make to prevent mouth disease and painful (and expensive) tooth extraction. 


    Emergencies happen. Whether your Labrador snuck some chocolate and needs their stomach pumped or your brachycephalic breed is having breathing issues, you’ll need to be prepared for unplanned vet visits. Especially as your pet ages, you can reasonably expect to pay more in medical bills for common chronic conditions such as arthritis, hearing and vision loss, and cancer.

    Unfortunately, these are the least predictable costs and also the most expensive. Emergencies and illnesses can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year, and it’s vital to be prepared with either pet insurance or savings account.

    The Bottom Line

    The first year of dog ownership usually costs around $3,000, with each subsequent year costing around $1,500-$2,000. Based on the average lifespan of a dog (12 years), Forbes estimates you’ll spend between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on size, breed, and medical costs.

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