Can I Afford A Dog?

Owning a pet is expensive. It’s more than just planning for food and toys. If you’ve been asking yourself, can I afford a dog, here is everything you need to know.

A big part of being a responsible pet owner is preparing for the endeavor financially.

Creating a consistent budget can help you plan for routine expenses like food, treats, and toys, as well as unexpected expenses like vet visits in the event of an emergency.

Asking the question can I afford a dog is a very responsible thing to do. Many pet owners don’t plan a budget before adopting a dog, which can get you into trouble.

Doing some research before you adopt a dog is a MUST!

What breed are you interested in? Research the breed to learn about its energy level, common allergies, health conditions, and any special needs experienced pet owners may share.

This information can help you plan for possible veterinary costs, any special food needs that may come up, the variety and types of toys that you may need to provide, and much more.

Proper research will help you decide which dog breed is right for you.

You may change your mind once you realize that some breeds are more expensive to keep than others.

Can I Afford A Dog?

Can I afford a dog?

According to a poll in USA Today, the average cost of owning a dog in 2024 is over $4,500 per year.

This includes all of the initial costs of adopting a dog and the yearly expenses that come with dog care.

Dogs aren’t just a one-time expense. You may be paying for your dog for more than a decade.

It’s important to remember that the first year of dog ownership is usually more expensive because of the initial adoption/purchase fees and the initial veterinary expenses.

As your dog ages, his care will likely become more expensive. Senior dogs may need regular medications, supplements, special dietary needs, and/or more regular veterinary care.

In short, it’s impossible to tell exactly how much a dog will cost.

However, you can try to make the most accurate budget possible and stick to it as closely as possible.

Initial Expenses

The first expense to consider when determining the cost of a dog is the adoption fee.

Are you buying a puppy from a reputable breeder or adopting from a shelter or rescue organization?

Adopting a pet can cost anywhere from $10 to $500, depending on the organization and the dog's age.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can wait and see if your local shelter will have a ‘waived-fee’ event.

These events are popular during overcrowding seasons – typically spring and summer.

While they may not waive the fee completely for all dogs, most fees will be extremely discounted.

Keep in mind that your adoption fee includes vaccinations and spaying/neutering.

The shelter has also had to provide food and facilities for the pup as long as he’s been there.

Even if you can get a reduced price, consider donating whatever you can afford to help the shelter continue to care for homeless pets.

Buying a puppy can get incredibly expensive. Some purebred puppies sell for more than $2,000!

If you’re interested in a specific breed, be sure to do some research on the cost of puppies.

This initial expense could be the deciding factor in whether or not you can afford a dog.

You must schedule an initial vet visit once you’ve adopted your new furry family member.

It is important for your vet to get to know your new pet and for your pet to be exposed to the veterinarian’s office.

This initial visit will also allow your vet to examine your dog. Hopefully, your dog is in tip-top shape, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

MORE: 20 Most Expensive Dog Breeds

How Much Do Dogs Cost?

Supplies and Training

Supplies and training expenses will vary based on the dog you adopt and your experience level.

All dogs will need food and water bowls, a collar and/or harness, and a leash.

Depending on the climate that you live in and the activities you plan to do with your pet, he may need a jacket, boots, or other clothing.

Think about your dog and your future plans. Make a list of must-have items and a list of items that you want but don’t necessarily need.

Obviously, you’ll need to buy the must-have items, but you can pick and choose from your ‘wants’ list based on your budget.

Training expenses will also vary greatly. If you’ve adopted an adult dog, he may already have some training.

If you’re adopting a puppy, you’ll have a lot of training work in the future.

Think about the dog you’re considering and the training you expect him to have.

Are you just expecting house training and basic command training?

Are you hoping that your dog will be a hunting dog, service dog or another working dog?

Maybe you plan to enter your pet in agility, show, or nose work competitions.

Depending on your expectations, you may need to plan for professional training expenses or special equipment for training.

Professional dog training costs upwards of $1,000, depending on the type of training and how easily your dog picks up on what he’s learning.

If you’re just looking for a dog who goes to the bathroom outside and comes when he’s called, you can probably do all the training yourself – as long as you have the time.

At-home training will still cost, but it will be minimal compared to professional training.

You may not need equipment, but you may need training aids or guidebooks if you don’t have training experience.

If you plan to kennel train your dog, which I highly recommend, you’ll need to buy the kennel.

Consider adding a kennel mat or bed for comfort and a water bowl that attaches to the kennel wall.

Remember the treats! While it’s not a big expense, you’ll go through plenty of treats when your pup is first learning to sit, stay, and use the bathroom outside.

ALSO: How To Afford An Expensive Dog Surgery

how much do dogs cost

Veterinary expenses

If you purchase a puppy from a breeder, you’ll need to plan for the expense of spaying or neutering the dog.

Discuss this with your vet at the first visit.

They can tell you at what age they would recommend fixing the dog and a ballpark and how much the operation will cost.

On average, neutering a male dog will cost about $150-$300, while spaying a female could cost anywhere from $200-$400.

Again, your veterinarian can give you a more accurate estimate.

Remember your pet’s annual exam. If your pet is in good health, it will cost at least $100- $200 per year.

This cost includes the yearly exam and any vaccinations that may be due.

It’s important to save a little bit of money each month in a savings account for unexpected pet expenses.

I recommend opening a special savings account just for this purpose.

Try to put at least $20 from every paycheck into this account.

If your pet has a health emergency, you’ll have some money in the bank to pay for it.

Emergency surgeries can cost thousands of dollars, so being prepared is important.

Daily Essentials

If you thought the initial expenses of owning a dog were high, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Daily essentials like food, treats, and grooming supplies can really add up.

Of course, these expenses will depend on the quality of the products you buy.

While I understand that everyone needs to stick to a budget, you will get what you pay for when it comes to pet products.

The cheaper the food you buy, the poorer your dog’s nutrition will be.

Over time, feeding a low-quality diet will lead to higher medical expenses.

I recommend finding the best dog food that you can afford. On average, you will probably need to budget at least $600 per year for dog food for a medium-sized dog.

Of course, it will cost more to feed a large or extra-large breed.

If you’re looking for a teacup or small breed, feeding your furry friend won’t cost as much.

Toys and treats are another expense to account for. You can make homemade treats to save money, but every dog deserves a treat every now and then.

If you are adopting an older dog or a lazier breed, you won’t need to spend as much on toys as you would if you adopted a puppy or a more active breed.

I recommend budgeting about $250 per year for toys and treats for a younger, active dog.

Bedding is another important cost to consider. Every dog needs a bed.

They need a comfortable place to rest and relax.

You can spend $100 or more on a quality dog bed or buy a cheap bed for less than $50.

Remember, you get what you pay for.

Cheaper beds stuffed with polyfill will go flat within 6-12 months.

More expensive beds with higher-quality memory foam will last 5 years or more.

What I’m trying to say is that spending a little more on quality products now will save you money in the long run.

It’s better to budget more money in the beginning to prevent yourself from having to replace products a few months down the road.

SIMILAR: 10 Ways To Help Shelter Animals Without Adopting

can I afford a pet

Other Costs to Consider

Depending on your situation, you may need to consider other expenses.

Some other costs to consider when thinking of adopting a dog include:

  • licensing fees in your town
  • pet insurance
  • professional grooming services
  • boarding or doggy daycare expenses
  • pet sitting/dog walking service

At the end of the day, no one can answer the question, “Can I afford a pet?” accurately because you will never know exactly how much your dog will cost over the course of his life.

Look at your budget. Do as much research as possible before adopting a dog.

Make sure to keep a savings account for unexpected expenses or emergencies.

Yes, dogs are expensive, but I promise you they are worth every penny!

READ NEXT: 12 Reasons Why You Should Adopt A Mixed-Breed Dog

Samantha’s biggest passion in life is spending time with her Boxer dogs. After she rescued her first Boxer in 2004, Samantha fell in love with the breed and has continued to rescue three other Boxers since then. She enjoys hiking and swimming with her Boxers, Maddie and Chloe.