Total Cost of Dog Ownership

Dog Costs

The cost of dog ownership enters into every decision to bring a dog into the family. If you are thinking of bringing a dog into your home you are not alone, with 46.3 million U.S. Households owning a dog. In general, costs range from $500/yr to $1825 a year depending on the size of the dog. For details see the table below.

The chart below outlines how much it typically costs to own a small, medium and large dog. Obviously, if you have a large dog like an Irish Setter, then your costs can be higher than caring for smaller dog. Another big part of keeping costs low is to keep your dog healthy with regular visits to the Vet. It is estimated that 68% of dogs do not get adequate health care. Veterinary care is often the reason cited for not owning a dog (30%, American Humane Society, 2012 survey).

One Time and Annual Cost of Dog Ownership
Source: Kiplingers

One Time Dog Costs
Small Dog
Medium Dog
Large Dog
Spaying or Neutering
Initial Veterinary Care
$25 $30 $35
$35 $95 $125
Dog Training
$110 $110 $110
Annual Dog Care Costs

Cost of Dog Food
Annual Veterinary Care
Toys and Treats
Dog License
irish setter dog
Dog Cost Varies By Size and Breed
Picture Source:

Podcast on Owning a Dog

This podcast by the American Veterinary Medical Association discusses the cost of dog ownership, dog care and how important it is to visit a Veterinarian. Learn how to keep your pet health and disease free.

Tips For Bringing Down The Annual Cost of Dog Care

Here are some money saving suggestions to help pay for a dog of any size:

  • Comparison Shop: Compare the prices of higher prices items such as flea and tick products starting with low cost online retailers such as Amazon. Small price reductions can help to significantly bring down the cost of dog ownership.

  • Check with Veterinarians and National Chains for Care: Shop around for prices on vaccinations. If you have budgetary limitations, don't be afraid to discuss this with your Vet. Your Doctor will prioritize those treatments that are critical versus those that can wait. In general, the earlier a dog is treated, the faster a dog will recover and the lower it will cost you as a pet parent.

  • Exercise Your Dog: Keeping your dog at the correct weight along with adequate exercise will go a long way toward keeping a dog healthy.

  • Spay or Neuter at a Shelter: Many shelters offer lower cost spaying and neutering services

  • Buy Dog Food from Wholesale Clubs, Walmart or online at the Amazon Dog Food Store: Buying from these stores can save you money. As long as the dog food is AAFCO certified (Association of American Feed Control Officials) in the U.S., it should be considered safe and good for a healthy dog. The rule of thumb is to buy a brand that you have heard or have researched thoroughly. The other rule of thumb is to feed your dog like you would your family in terms of health standards. If you believe in natural ingredients for yourself, then do the same for your dog.

  • Sign up for Frequent Shopper Programs: Many of the national retail pet supply companies offer loyalty program discounts or check online sites such as PetSmart and Petco that offer special discounts during holiday periods.

  • Sign up for Our Free Newsletter: Every month the Dog Health Guide Newsletter offers the best savings from national and online retailers along with the latest dog health information.  Sign up at the top of this page.

  • Consider Dog Health Insurance: Compare the cost of insurance to what you can afford if your dog gets sick. It doesn't hurt to get a free quote from a reputable company such as Pets Best.  Only insure those things you can't afford such as surgery and illness. A dog health insurance cost for budget planning purposes starts at approximately $16 a day for basic care which covers $5,000 a year, lifetime coverage of $100,000 and covers your dog for accidents, illnesses and cancer.

Cost of a Dog Worksheets and Resources

Ask Our Vet A Question About Dog Costs For Free

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Do you have a Dog Cost related question for Vet? Please include important details such as the breed, where you are going to get the dog from, and anything else you believe would help provide a helpful answer.

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