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How to Budget for Your Dog


You love your dog like a member of your family, but did you remember to include that family member in your budget? When you are mastering your budget and starting to put together budget categories, be sure to include your dog’s needs!

Most budgeting guides will include pets in their recommended budget categories and you should do the same. The main goal in doing so is to avoid overspending on your furry friend. We all know how hard that can be sometimes!

Estimates range from $530 to $2120 a year to budget for your dog. The size, age, and breed of the dog will all affect your total budget, as will the standard of care you plan to provide. Read on for the main categories to include, whether you are planning to get a new dog or you are a long-time dog owner. 

Initial Expenses for a New Dog

Initial dog expenses will range from $350 to $5000-plus. Whether you adopt a puppy or an older dog, the dog’s medical history, the breed, and where you get the dog are just a few of the factors that will influence how much you pay. 

Here is a basic breakdown:

  • Pet store or breeder – $500-$3000
  • Adoption fees – $0-$350
  • Medical exam and vaccinations: $100-$350
  • Spay or neuter: $50-$200
  • Collar and leash: $15-$100
  • Bed and crate: $25-$250
  • Food and water bowls: $10-$50
  • Travel crate: $20-$80
  • Training: $110 to $250-plus
  • Pet deposit for renters: $150-$500
  • Extras (puppy training pads, toys, etc.): $10-$50

Before adopting or purchasing a dog, it is worthwhile to set the budget and price items and supplies to prepare to bring your dog home. Most of these items can be purchased before your new dog arrives. 

While these initial costs may seem high, there are ways to save on costs by adopting a dog from a friend or shelter to reduce fees. There are also shelters that have low-cost or free spay or neuter programs, and medical exams for stray or adopted animals.

Choose Wisely

If you’re planning to get a dog, your budget should be a big consideration. Some breeds of dogs are significantly more expensive to keep than others. Large dogs will incur significantly greater food expenses. Brachycephalic (flat-faced) dogs are notorious for health issues and may require frequent vet visits. Some other purebred dogs have other common health issues.

Careful research into breeders can help you avoid some of the inherited health issues carried by some purebred dogs, but if your budget is limited you might want to look for a mixed breed or a breed that is not associated with health issues.

Ongoing Expenses for Dog Care

After the initial startup, the main recurring expenses you will have for your dog are food, medical care, grooming (if needed), poop bags, treats, and chew toys. 

Here is what you can expect:

  • Food – $360-$600
  • Treats and chew toys: $50-$250
  • Grooming: $0 to $700
  • Poop bags – $0-$120
  • Flea, tick and heartworm prevention: $40-$200
  • Vaccination, license, and regular veterinary care: $80-$250
  • Boarding or sitting: varies, $15 to $50 per day

This is a total range of $530 a year or about $45 a month, to $2120 a year, or about $177 per month. The main differences come in the amount of food, need for grooming and how much you choose to spend on treats and chew toys. These totals do not include boarding or sitting, which will vary based on your location and how often you need to use them. 

If you have had your dog for at least a year, looking at how much you spent the previous year will help to set a realistic budget. It will also help you discover some unexpected expenses you might not have budgeted for.

If you haven’t been tracking your expenses, it’s time to start! Even a typical month’s spending will give you a good basis for an estimate. It is also worth talking to other dog owners to find out how much they spend. You may be able to locate better local prices on food, veterinary care, or grooming. If you plan to pay a dog walker or continue with training, that will add to your total budget. 

Once you have an idea of how much you will need to spend, it’s worth budgeting 10% extra to account for errors or small additional expenses. For example, if you have a small dog that doesn’t require grooming and set your dog budget at $50 a month, it’s worth increasing that to $55 to account for variations in supply, appetite, or other factors.

Pet Luxuries

Some pet owners spend well above these levels. Specialized diets, expensive toys, and other luxury items can run costs up very quickly. There’s nothing wrong with pampering your furry friend, but be sure you have the resources to do it! If you’re considering luxury items fur your dog, you might want to look at which ones are designed to benefit the dog and which are designed to appeal to the dog owner!

Budgeting for Unexpected Expenses

In addition to regular expenses, most pet owners will have to face unexpected additional veterinary bills at some point in their pet’s lifetime. It’s a good idea to set aside some money each month for your emergency dog fund. 

An emergency vet hospital visit can cost $500 to $1000. Surgery or advanced medical care can be $2000 to $5000. If your dog needs to stay in an ICU, it will cost you between $200 and $500 per day, or more. 

The first step is to set the target amount. Hopefully, you will never have to use it, but having some savings ready will give you peace of mind around medical care for your dog. Your target might be $1000 or $5000 or more.

To build the fund, start by setting aside some amount each month, such as $50, until you reach your target. By consistently building “dog emergency” as a budget item, you will be prepared for any situation. You may even want to consider pet insurance, especially if you have an older pet or a breed that has frequent health issues. Learn more about pet insurance here.

Set a Budget and Stick to it!

While it can be tempting to buy a new toy every time you’re at the store, or special premium food for your dog, once you have set your budget make sure to stick to it. Mastering your budget is a matter of consistency and focus. The payoff is knowing that you are doing the best for both your dog and your budget.

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