how much does a dog cost

How Much Does A Dog Cost – A Breakdown Of The Numbers

So, how much does a dog cost? The fact you’re reading an article like this shows that you’re going about dog ownership intelligently – figuring out how much it’s going to cost you before you make the commitment. 

Bit for bit, a dog will end up being one of the more expensive pet choices you could make. This isn’t necessarily bad, just a factor that needs to be considered.

You’ll be paying a lot of money at the outset to make sure your dog is on the correct side of the law and past the point of contracting or passing on deadly doggy diseases. Upkeep expenses will go towards keeping them that way. 

Dogs are generous with their love for their humans, so they deserve full bellies and good health. The expenses attached to these things alone can add up quickly. We’re going to take a look at all the expenses involved in the whole spectrum, from adopting a puppy to providing care in your pup’s senior years. 

How Much Does a Dog Cost: Initial Puppy Adoption/Rescue Costs

There’s more to adopting a puppy than there ever has been before. You’re paying for more than just taking an animal into your home. You’re also covering the expenses attached to vaccinations, neutering or spaying, even microchipping. 

Microchips used to be a luxury. Now they’re required by law, or else a dog owner faces some steep fines. 

These costs can inflate into the thousands if you get your dog from a responsible breeder. 

If you’re looking at adopting a rescue dog, you may get a break to some extent. For instance, the adoption fee will cover a few of the other expenses, such as a spay or neuter. Sometimes a rescue dog’s adoption fees cover everything, but not in all cases. 

Take comfort in the fact that the worst of the expenses are usually here at the outset when poochie is beginning his/her new life with you. 

Rescue dog adoption fees typically run between £135 and £200.

Puppies from respectable breeders can run you closer to the tune of £2,000 to £4,000, and that can easily exclude all the other setup costs. This all depends on the rarity and pedigree of the breed you choose.

There’s much weight in favor of going the route of adopting a rescue or shelter dog. There will probably never be a shortage of dogs that need a new home, and it’s not uncommon for shelters to be overflowing with dogs. 

Before you shell out the money on an expensive dog from a high-tier breeder, consider that such dogs have already made the journey from the breeder to a home as a Christmas puppy or as an impulse buy. From there, the dog ended up being taken to a shelter for whatever reason. This is obviously very sad and stressful for the poor dog so it really gives you a chance to make a difference to that dogs life and they will love you for it.

Circumstances do change, but many expensive dogs are in shelters because of frivolity or carelessness on the part of the initial buyers.  Adopting a rescue or shelter dog will not only save you money but will also win you a lot of gratitude from the dogs that languish in cages, wondering where their humans went. 

cute puppy

First Vet Appointments: Vaccinations

Vaccinations are critical to dogs, especially puppies. It’s not like with us humans, where you can play the odds and avoid getting a serious sickness.

There are serious, highly communicable diseases in our everyday lives that will promise your dog years of misery if they aren’t properly vaccinated. 

Parvovirus is just one example. How easily it spreads and how many ways it can spread is chilling. Worse yet, there’s no cure. Symptoms can be lessened, but the source of your dog’s misery will never be eradicated.

A dog with parvo only has to get a minute amount of bodily fluid, like saliva, in your dog’s environment. If your dog comes in the briefest contact with an object or a surface with that saliva, your dog is infected. It’s that communicable. 

It’s far cheaper – and kinder – to vaccinate your dog at the outset. This will dramatically cut down on the cost of owning a dog. 

These initial vaccinations will probably put you at £100-£150. Booster/maintenance shots may be necessary later on. 

How Much Does it Cost to Keep a Dog?

Ongoing Food Costs

Everyone knows what a dog’s #1 priority is: Eating. Caring for the feelings attached to a dog’s tum has become something of an elaborate art form.

You can go as simple as providing nutritious dog food, and you can go as extravagant as buying special ice creams and coffees made for canines. The value of these treats is not lost on our dogs. 

The low estimate of feeding your pup can set you back £250 annually.

Some pup parents invest even further in fresh dog food, which is usually delivered. Because of the quality of these ingredients, the costs can balloon quickly. Let’s use Polly, the Dapple Dachshund in the picture at the top, and site admin, as an example. She is fed premium food containing 80% meat from Natures Menu Country Hunter range (you can see other top natural dog food in our post) and even though she is a small dog at 5.5kg, the cost is still £75 per month (£900 a year). You can imagine how expensive that can be for a Labrador.

Additional factors include the activity levels of your dog. A dog that spends most of its time indoors is going to have different nutrition requirements than a dog that gets to run free on a farm in the country all day long. 

Think too that some dogs develop food allergies and diabetes. These have a very strong impact on the foods that your dog can eat, and the money needed to keep your dog fed and healthy. 

And of course, there’s the factor of your dog’s appetite. 

dog food

Ongoing Medical Expenses

It would be nice if your puppy’s health-related expenses ended at those initial vaccinations and setup costs, but health expenses are actually an ongoing matter.

Throughout your dog’s life, you’ll spend your share of time making routine visits to the vet. This will put you anywhere from £50 to £100 annually. Plus, you have to consider the possibility of acquiring fleas and ticks and paying for the required prevention treatments.

Prevention on this alone can cost anywhere from £60 to £95. Certainly, also on the minds of dog owners is the possibility of heartworm. Preventing heartworm can tack on an annual expense of £60 to £85.

The teeth of a dog are not indestructible. So a little prevention goes a long way. Investing in the dental health of your dog each year could run you anywhere from £15 to £60 if you’re just going with general dental chews that are both enjoyable and preventative.

Whether your children are human or animal, there’s always that unexpected emergency medical bill. It would be wise to have on hand anywhere from £500 to £2,000 for the duration of a year. This can be reduced if you go with pet insurance as we talk about next.

Pet Insurance Costs

Pets are family, and some dog owners choose to extend showing that love to their dog by taking out an insurance policy on them. 

The point of insuring your dog is so that most of their health care costs are covered. This would be especially useful during those unexpected emergency medical bills, which is usually what pet insurance is used for, rather than routine maintenance. In fact, a lot of pet insurance doesn’t cover routine exams, grooming, behaviour issues, and other common reasons you would see your veterinarian. 

On the other hand, if your dog would have to have surgery in short order or have to be treated for cancer, that’s when pet insurance really shines. 

Pet insurance for your dog is a lot like any insurance you would buy, complete with different premiums and different levels of coverage. The price and the availability are determined by when you try to get it, who provides it, and what sort of coverage you’re looking to get. 

Some providers place limits on the ages of the dogs they will insure. They may charge more for older dogs, or they may not even offer any coverage at all. 

Other restrictions and prices may be applied to the breed of the dog. Some breeds are more accident-prone than others, plain and simple. These are typically more expensive to insurance and it’s worth checking before you take the leap and buy a puppy as it can have a huge financial impact down the line.

How much pet insurance you “need” really comes down to your own comfort level and your monthly budget. Plus too, you would consider the age of your pet and how much of your savings you would be willing to part with. 

But as with any insurance, shop around. Get several quotes before committing to a monthly premium. 

Again, pet insurance is optional, not mandatory. It isn’t always useful. It can be a life saver though.

If you wanted around £2,000 to £10,000 of coverage, you could be looking at paying around £20 per month up to £100 per month, it completely depends on the breed and age of your pooch. 

The most expensive kind of dog insurance, by far, is Lifetime insurance. The vet fee limits renew annually so as to cope with recurring conditions. A young, healthy, mixed-breed dog can get coverage totaling £3,000 to £5,000 starting at £20 a month or £240 a year. It only goes up from there. £30-£45 a month or £360-£540 annually is to be expected from premium plans. 

dog boarding kennels

Doggy Daycare & Kennels

Dogs don’t do well without the care of their humans. They aren’t like cats which can do fine as long as the food bowl is full and the litter box is empty. But there are times when the humans will be away, and your pooch won’t be able to tag along. 

It’s preferable for the mental health of your dog if you can hire someone in your family or social circle to dog sit. The prices are more negotiable and the dog can either spend your absence in the comfort of the home they know, or they can at least be in the care of someone that you know and trust. 

When such accommodations aren’t available, then you have to look at putting your dog in a kennel or a doggy daycare while you’re away. 

Kennels are much like hotels for us: some of them are very nice and cozy, others are total nightmares.

Kennels tend to be very lonely. It isn’t always safe to have dogs that don’t know each other socializing together unprotected, so kennels usually isolate dogs. 

Separation anxiety is part of dog psychology. If your dog has a difficult time being apart from you or from human company in general, kennels aren’t the kindest lodging you could provide your dog. An average of £15 – £20 per dog per day is usual for kennels. 

But look beyond price and take the time to read reviews and find out how your dog will be treated in your absence. 

A better option would be leaving your dog in the care of a boarding home. Instead of being isolated, your dog would get to socialize with other dogs in a home environment under the watchful care of a loving pet owner. This would fill the void in your dog’s need for companionship. The prices are steeper here: an average of £25 – £35 per dog, per day. 

Again, research on your part is vital. Look up reviews to see what kind of track record a dog boarding family has and what their backup procedures are should trouble develop between your dog and a person or another dog. Find out how much experience they have. If possible, speak to a past customer in person. 

Dog Grooming Costs

Dogs aren’t the self-cleaning animals that other pets can be. So, it can take a lot of effort and more than a little money to keep both your house and your dog looking and smelling pleasant.

Obviously, a large dog like a German Shepherd is going to use a little bit more shampoo and dryer time than a teacup chihuahua. 

Having your dog groomed by a professional will probably cost around £40, but you can easily end up paying half of that amount or twice that amount. This assumes that a full groom includes shampoo, blow-dry, nail clip, and hand stripping or clipping. 

The price is also affected by the texture of the dog’s coat.  Smaller dogs like Dachshunds and Chihuahuas can land in a price range of £26-£36, the range being affected by the fur more than the size. 

How Much Does a Dog Cost: Creature Comforts

Dogs are obviously intelligent, and with that intelligence comes a measure of ability to enjoy the finer things of life. Fun toys and a comfortable place to sleep are huge ways of boosting your dog’s quality of life. 

That is not to say that your dog will hit you up for the finest bed that money can buy. But doggy parents tend to lean towards spoiling their furbabies. 

So while a £5 bed can do just fine, there’s a broad range of more expensive beds that have extra bells and whistles that make life a little extra for their occupant.

A more expensive bed may also be provided for medical reasons. Dogs can develop back issues just like us. An orthopedic dog bed can be acquired for a few hundred pounds. Other factors considered are how ethically sourced the bed materials are, as in, if the fur lining the bed is real or not, or how clean the production of the bed was. 

There is no shortage of options in this area of things. 

After eating and sleeping, dogs love to play. The more common dog toys are a negligible cost if you’re looking at frisbees, chew bones, and ties for tug-of-war. But again, the pet industry counts on the people that like to go overboard and spoil their animals. There’s an innovative toy for whatever amount of money you’re willing to spend. 

Closing Thoughts: It’s About More Than Money

The annual cost of owning a dog can range from about £500 to over £2000 a year, with the most budget-minded pet owners spending less than £1,000 per year.

But there’s a lot of expense that isn’t reflected in those numbers.

Beyond food, medical care, and toys, there’s the cost of time and energy. There’s the expense of having a four-legged creature constantly vying for your attention. There’s the cost of time spent going for walks and getting into a routine that the dog will find satisfying. 

There’s the investment of well over a decade of time and energy and effort caring for another living thing that will be 100% devoted to you and your family and may never be completely satisfied with the attention it gets, constantly wanting more. 

There’s also the cost of the heartbreak that comes if it should become necessary to put your dog down when the quality of life is no longer sustainable. Before you know it, your dog is as much of a part of the family as children would be, and the pain of saying goodbye can be traumatic to some people. 

If you’re planning on moving sometime during the dog’s life, the ethical thing would be to make sure that you will be able to take your dog with you when you move. That too can cost extra.

These are the real, more substantial costs of owning a dog, and some people can’t afford them, no matter how much money they have. 

If you’re going to own a dog in 2021, be prepared to open your heart along with your wallet. 

It’s all worth it though and any dog lover will tell you that.

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