December 26, 2017

Average Cost of Owning a Dog May Surprise You

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Owning a dog could cost you as much as $20,000 over its entire life. Just in the first year, you should plan to spend as much as $1,600.

© Allen Skyy (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

Keep reading to learn the true cost of owning a dog.

What a Dog Really Costs

  • What is the average cost of owning a dog over its lifetime?
    The average cost of owning a dog is around $20,000 over its lifetime. The exact amount varies based on the size, breed, and health of the dog. This takes into account food, supplies, preventative medicine, and vet visits.

  • What is the average cost of owning a dog annually?
    The average small dog costs owners an estimated $1,000 per year. Medium dogs cost an average of $1,200, and large dogs cost as much as $1,400 per year.

  • What is the average cost of owning a dog monthly?
    We calculated the average cost of owning a dog per month to be $125. This includes food, basic medical needs, toys, license, insurance, and grooming.

  • What is the average cost to raise a small dog for the first year?
    The first year is often the most expensive year when you own a dog. Small dogs are the least expensive, at around $1,200 for the first year. This includes all necessities plus initial purchases of necessary items when you get a new dog.

  • What is the average cost to raise a medium dog for the first year?
    A medium dog may cost you around $1,400 for the first year. They are slightly more expensive to spay/neuter. Plus, they need larger items (crate, collar, etc.), which tend to be more expensive.

  • What is the average cost to raise a large dog for the first year?
    A large dog costs as much as 25% more during the first year than a small dog. Plan to spend around $1600 during that first year as you get your big puppy accustomed to your home.

  • What is the average cost of owning a dog versus a cat?
    The lifetime cost of owning a cat, assuming a 15-year average lifespan, is around $13,100. This is more than one-third less than it costs to own a dog.

    Note: These figures assume the cat/dog are generally healthy and don't have any serious health scares.

  • What is the average cost to adopt a dog?
    On average, it costs $391 to adopt a dog. This might seem high, but the adoption fee pays for more than just the animal. It covers all medical needs, including deworming, flea treatment, and standard medical tests. It also often covers the cost of the spay/neuter and any necessary medications.

  • How much is the average cost for pet insurance?
    We found the average cost for pet insurance for a large dog to be $32.02 per month. The average cost for pet insurance for a small dog is around $27.34.

    We based these figures on a Yorkshire Terrier (small dog) and Golden Retriever (large dog). Both are 2-year-old males that are fixed. We used a $5,000 annual maximum and $500 deductible with 80% reimbursement.

Caring for Your Dog

  • How much does it cost to spay or neuter a dog?
    The average cost to spay or neuter a dog varies between $35 and $300. A private practice veterinarian will cost around $300. A low-cost clinic or animal shelter will cost closer to the $35 average.

    The health of your dog (in heat, diabetes) will also play a role. If there are many medical tests the vet requires beforehand, it could elevate the cost as well.

  • How much do dog vaccines cost?
    The average cost of dog vaccines ranges between $170 and $255. This includes all of the following vaccines:

    • Distemper (DAPPV)
    • Rabies
    • Coronavirus
    • Lyme
    • Leptospirosis
    • Bordetella
    • Influenza

    Each shot, with the exception of the DAPPV, costs an average of $20 - $30 and is optional.

  • How much does the average vet visit cost?
    A standard office call costs an average of $50. However, your pet usually needs more than just an office call. The average pet owner spends $260 per year on routine vet bills.

  • How much is the average emergency vet bill?
    The average person spends between $800 and $1,500 on an emergency vet visit for their dog. However, even more shocking is the fact that every six seconds, dog owners receive a vet bill totaling as much as $3,000.

  • How much is the average heartworm preventative medicine for dogs?
    According to the American Animal Hospital Association, the average cost of heartworm preventative medication is between $5 and $15 per month.

  • What is the average cost of allergy testing for dogs?
    Dogs, just like humans, can suffer from allergies. The tests don't come cheap, though. Plan to spend an average of $200 to $300 to figure out what is bothering your pet.

  • What is the average cost of dog food per month?
    Dog food for a large dog costs an average of $35 per month. Smaller dogs eat less, so they often cost less. Food for a medium-sized dog costs an average of $27 per month, and a small dog's food costs $18 per month.

  • What is the average cost to board a dog?
    On average, dog owners spend $322 annually to board their dog. This could vary between a standard dog kennel to a fancy dog hotel.

  • What is the average cost to board a dog overnight?
    On average, kennels charge $50 per night to watch your dog.

  • What is the average cost of dog sitting per day?
    The average pet sitter charges $15 per visit. This visit consists of 30 minutes with your dog.

  • What is the average cost for a dog's dental cleaning?
    The average cost for a dog's dental cleaning varies between $70 and $300. The actual costs depends on where you live, but mostly on the dog's health. If the veterinarian has to run many tests before putting your dog under, it will raise the cost.

  • What is the most expensive dog breed to own?
    The Samoyed puppy is one of the most expensive dogs to own. Breeders sell them for anywhere between $1,500 and $2,500.

  • How much of the average household income do dog owners spend on their dog?
    Shockingly enough, 1% of the average household's spending is on their pet. This includes the cost of food, supplies, medicine, vet visits, and pet sitting.

The Bottom Line

It's evident that Americans love their dogs. Before you get one, make sure you budget for all of the expenses (known and unknown) that come along with it.

Sources and References:

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