The Hidden Costs of Owning A Dog

Adding a pet to your life is one of the best things you can do. A furry friend will bring you joy, laughter, and plenty of cuddles, so how could you resist? But although owning a pet undoubtedly comes with additional budgetary aspects, there are some hidden fees, too.

Some pet owners do not take the hidden costs of owning a dog into consideration before adopting one. But by familiarizing yourself with these costs beforehand, you can plan for the extra budget concerns that a dog brings and avoid being surprised by them.

In The Beginning

The initial costs involved with bringing your furry friend home are likely the first costs you think to budget for. This involves the adoption fee or price the dog breeder sets, the cost of transportation, and paying for the food and supplies necessary for the first few nights.

This is compounded even further if your soon-to-be dog is not located close to home, requiring a long drive or even a flight to collect them. On top of an adoption or breeder’s fee that can range from $50 to $500, tanks of gas or plane tickets are also very costly.

Initial Medical Fees

As soon as you bring your pet home, you should take them to your local veterinary clinic for a checkup, get any necessary shots or vaccinations, and get them spayed or neutered.

Keep in mind that your new dog might require preventative medications at their first visit to the vet, depending on breed health conditions or how healthy your furry friend currently is. 

Spaying or neutering is essential for your pets but can cost you several hundred dollars depending on where you go and your pet’s age. This does not include the cost of further medical attention should something go wrong with the healing process.

And if you bring home a puppy, be prepared for recurring vet bills, as they need to visit the doggie doctor every few weeks until they reach 16 weeks old and their health is more settled.

In all, you can expect your dog’s first year with you to cost about double what subsequent years will, just in medical bills alone. 

Supplies For Your Furry Friend

Food, treats, toys, and bedding are all essential for keeping your dog happy, healthy, and entertained. And because these items are not something your dog will grow out of or stop needing, these expenses will inevitably add up quite quickly!

Food and Treats

Feeding your pet a good, high-quality diet is crucial to their development and health but can also be costly. It is important to give your dog all the nutrients they need to maintain a healthy weight and the number of vitamins or minerals required.

Depending on the size of your dog and any health-specific needs, such as diabetic-friendly or low-sodium diets, food can cost you upwards of $500 every year, at the low end of the spectrum.

And because it is not advisable to feed your dog human food as treats, as it can cause havoc in their digestive systems, pet owners will find themselves adding dog treats to the grocery list quite frequently. 

Even if you branch out and start making your own dog treats, it is still something to keep in mind when budgeting not only for your personal monthly grocery funds but also for your furry friends.


Dogs are typically quite happy with a stick or other type of naturally occurring plaything, but enrichment toys are just as important for your pet. Because your dog will require not only time for fun every day but also plenty of mental stimulation, toys are essential.

In general, toys for your dog will not break the bank, but it’s worthwhile to consider the cost of repeatedly replacing these items. Even the gentlest dogs will wear through their toys, and if you have a particularly destructive pet, the cost will be much higher.


Giving your dog a safe and comfortable place to sleep is essential for their development and health. Luckily, dogs do not tend to wear out their beds quickly, but if your pet is still growing, be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on replacement beds.

Some owners find that investing in a high-quality dog bed that is easy to clean and will last for years before needing to be replaced is the best option for affordable dog bedding. While the initial cost might be high, you’ll be saving money in the long run.

Essential Accessories

While outfitting your dog with an adorable set of booties or a fancy rain jacket is always an option, the essentials necessary for your furry friend cannot be overlooked. 

All dogs need a well-made, comfortable collar and leash. While one of each is required, most pet owners opt for having several sets as backups. Different types of leashes and collars are also important, from running leads to swimming harnesses, at various fees.

Routine Health Care Costs

Outside of the initial cost of ensuring your new dog is healthy and set up for success, pets are notorious for incurring medical fees throughout their lives. Pet owners should be taking their dogs to the vet twice a year for a full checkup, no matter what.

And while you can budget for the eventuality of a vet visit, experienced pet owners know that a several hundred dollar vet fee is always just around the corner, depending on what your dog ingests, contracts, or develops as a condition that catches you off-guard.

With that in mind, for a healthy dog, estimate around $700 to $2,000 per year for health maintenance. If your pet has some outstanding medical issues or is susceptible to illness or certain conditions, you should budget even more for healthcare.

Medications and Supplements

Even healthy pets will likely require prescriptions or supplements throughout their life. Each medication prescribed will add up in the end, whether for environmental pests like ticks or fleas or something more concerning like heartworms.

Extra vitamins, probiotics, or nutrient supplements will also add up in terms of cost, especially if you decide to pay for the high-end brands. Some pets might need to be temporarily put on a raw or high-protein diet, becoming particularly expensive.

Pet Insurance And Licensing Fees

Protection for your furry friend is essential, no matter what. And pet insurance is a great way to get coverage for your pet—insurance plans can include preventative health care packages and even emergency coverage if something should go wrong. 

Another insurance option that is good for pet owners to have includes homeowner or renter’s insurance, which will give you coverage in the instance of your dog injuring someone in your home or on your property.

Additionally, your pet will require some papers. These include a pet license that might need to be renewed every few years, depending on your state and even a microchip for identifying your dog should they get lost.

Travel And Boarding Expenses

Whether you travel for work or simply are planning on taking a family holiday that your furry friend cannot come along on, you will have to arrange for boarding or pet sitting services. 

Because these services typically charge per day, they can add up quickly. If you cannot take your dog with you on a trip and don’t want to have a family member or friend take care of them, leaving your dog behind can cost you between $15 to $50 every day.

Exercise, Obedience, and Grooming Fees

Keeping your dog active and well-trained is essential for any pet parent. And while most pet owners can provide the proper exercise and fitness routines that their dogs require, as well as initial training and brushing, your dog might need professional care.


Dog walking services are helpful for any owners who find themselves unable to give their pet the amount of exercise they need but do come at a price. However, these services are a life-saver if you work irregular hours or cannot be home during the day.

Typically for around $10 or $15 a day, a professional dog walker can come by your home and take your furry friend out for their daily exercise so that when you get home, all there is to do is relax on the couch with your pet.


Obedience is key. Some owners have no issue teaching basic commands themselves, but certain dog breeds or individual personalities require a professional’s touch.

Whether you need to send your dog to obedience school for an entire year or only have to enlist the help of other training resources for a month or two, teaching your dog manners can become a costly—but essential—endeavor. 


Sitting down with a brush or a comb is a great way to bond with your pet, but sometimes your dog might need a professional grooming session. This is especially true for breeds with long hair or coats that are difficult to keep healthy with at-home products and tools.

Reasons for professional grooming might also include a run-in with a skunk, overgrown nails, or a buildup of matted fur. Regardless of the cause, some grooming services can cost hundreds of dollars or even $1,000 for a full year of grooming.

There is no doubt that pets are expensive. So, before you go out and buy a new furry companion, review the hidden fees above and see if now is the right time for you!

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