How Much Does It Cost To Have a Dog Per Month?

Desirae OdjickSpending, The Dog55 Comments

how-much-dog-cost-per-month

If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, or you know me in real life, you know that I’m a tad obsessed with my dog. (That’s him in the picture!)

“Getting a dog” has always been pretty high up there on my list of life to-dos, and even in the dead of winter, while I’m braving wind chill advisories to take him on his walks, I’m always glad he’s a part of my life.

But cheap, he is not.

There’s a reason I call him my luxury dog after every vet visit, and it’s not just because having a dog is a decidedly discretionary expense.

With all the advice people gave me as I was contemplating getting a dog…

“It’s a big responsibility.”

“It’ll take a lot of time.”

“Do your research about breeds.”

…the hands-down best advice was…

“Dogs are expensive.”

While I was ready for the responsibility, the time commitment and the lifestyle changes ages ago, it was only when The Dog arrived on the scene that I realized that in previous years – and without The Boyfriend’s support – I wouldn’t have been ready financially.

This all came up as part of a discussion with a friend, who’s considering getting a dog.

Her boyfriend is the budget nerd between the two of them (a title I wear proudly, by the way, and something I bestow as the highest compliment) and he mentioned to her that she should ask me just how expensive dogs can be.

Now, I can go on and on about this in terms of the costs of pet insurance, the costs of dog food, and my monthly contributions to The Dog’s emergency fund. However, she posed a question I wasn’t prepared to answer.

How expensive is it to have a dog every month?

Basically, from a monthly perspective, how much wiggle room should I have before taking on the responsibility of a dog?

While I firmly believe that squeezing more into your monthly budget isn’t the way to tackle optimizing your expenses, I also started to wonder. It’s easy to look at the lump sum costs, like insurance and vet visits, and not realize what that breaks down to when it gets averaged out over a year’s worth of months.

Luckily, I’ve been tracking my expenses for over a year now, and the past year has been a fairly typical period of dog ownership.

So I did what any budget nerd who didn’t know the answer would do.

I looked at the numbers. (After giving her a probably entirely unrealistic estimate of $100.)

The Dog’s expenses break down into a few categories, and due to the nature of the different purchases, I looked at each of them separately.

Food

While reasonably priced, high quality dog food has been one of the biggest benefits of a Costco membership for me, The Dog’s latest vet visit revealed some not-so-clean teeth. As a result, we’ve switched up his breakfast to the vet-recommended dental diet food.

He seems fine with it, mostly because he’s a lab and will eat anything, but it’s definitely upped our monthly food costs.

The Costco food usually lasts us about two months, at a total cost of $36.66.

The new dental diet food lasts about a month and a half, and costs $64.22 per bag.

When I average it out, his total monthly food costs ring in at $66.65 a month.

Which is still less than we had been spending on the fancy food we were buying before, so that’s fine.

Vet Visits

The Dog has two regular vet visits each year.

  • One in the fall for his annual checkup and vaccines, and
  • One in the spring for his “summer meds.” This one includes anti-flea and anti-tick medication, which I’m more than happy to spring for since even one infection from either would cost me a whole lot more in the long run – not to mention stress me right out.

He just had his last checkup, where we discovered the need for his new-and-improved dental diet. That one – including the $64.42 for a bag of his special new tooth food – ran me $192.11.

That’s a bit lower than the spring check up, due to the cost of the medications, so I multiplied this past visit by 2.5 to get an annual routine vet bill of about $319.23.

Sadly, that seems low to me, but I’m going to go with it.

It comes out to an average monthly vet cost of $26.60 for routine care and vaccines.

Insurance

I’ve flip-flopped on whether or not to buy dog insurance.

I went from sooo cavalier, blogging about how I was going to save for a pet emergency instead of paying for pet insurance, to “oh my god I will totally drain my other savings to pay for surgery for The Dog I need insurance yesterday.” At the end of the day, I know myself well enough to know I need both: pet insurance and a well-funded pet emergency fund.

Luckily, I found an insurance option that works well for me and The Dog. It covers 80% of accidents and illness, up to $8000.00, and rings in at $314.75 a year.

It’s the perfect complement to The Dog’s emergency fund, and breaks down to a monthly cost of $26.23.

Emergency Fund Contributions

That said, my reasonable monthly insurance costs are nothing compared to my “self-insurance” emergency fund for The Dog.

I throw $150 in there every month to build up to the goal I’ve set for The Dog’s emergency fund.

“Gear”

I had originally called this category “toys and other items”, but when I went back through my spending categories, I realized that in the past four months my spending at pet stores has included training aids, a new harness for walking, a toothbrush (yes, seriously) and two bones for helping with The Dog’s tooth issues.

This is not a category that should be called “toys.”

While The Dog’s “gear” expenses seem a little high to me for the past four months, they’re also likely not out of the range of normal if I had been tracking the past year of my spending at pet stores. By taking the numbers into consideration, I got an average annual gear total of $629.60.

That brings in my monthly total on dog gear at $52.74.

Yikes.

Other

The only expense I can find in my monthly spending spreadsheets that isn’t accounted for in the categories I’ve already mentioned is dog sitting.

There has only been one night where I’ve left The Dog with a friend overnight, and as a token of appreciation, The Boyfriend and I took out some money to cover pizza, beer and a small cash gift for our friend who watched The Dog.

Based on how often we go out of town and need a dog-sitter, I’ve estimated this cost at $200 a year.

That breaks down to a totally reasonable $16.67 per month in the “other” expense category.

So How Much Does a Dog Cost Every Month?

Wow.

I mean…

Wow.

I knew The Dog was a luxury, but I never would have estimated just how much he really costs on a monthly basis.

When all is said and done, based on these calculations I’m spending about $338.61 a month on The Dog.

  • $150.00 of that is saving for his emergency fund.
  • $188.61 is all of the other costs, from insurance to food to vet bills, averaged out over a year.

That’s $4,063.32 a year.

While I’m a little taken aback at the number on an annual basis, and have to consider that $1800 of that is technically savings towards a specific goal, I’m also still entirely comfortable with that number.

The Dog is one of the best parts of my day, every day.

Oh the indignity.

Oh the indignity.

He’s hilarious and fun and sweet and goofy, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. He’s also part of a life I value, that doesn’t include a lot of other “luxury” expenses. For example, I don’t travel much, since I’m perfectly happy taking a staycation to hang out with – you guessed it – The Dog.

Plus, a big chunk of those expenses is me preparing for even more costly line items, like big emergency vet bills. If you factor in the $314.75 for insurance and $1800.00 for the emergency fund, the actual “expenses” are about half of that annual number. But being a good dog owner – a dog owner who is fully ready to be financially responsible for their dog for its lifetime – is part of the deal here.

So, to the friend who asked me how much it costs to have a dog on a monthly basis, I’m sorry that I guessed that it was about $100 a month.

I was so, so, so wrong.

Thanks to the fact that I’ve been tracking my spending, I can confidently say that if you want to get a dog, you should try to find $338.61 in your budget first.

Because that’s what it costs for me to have The Dog every month.

Wow.

PS. If you really want to get a sense of how much extra wiggle room you have in your current monthly budget, the best thing you can do is to track your spending for a month. By taking a look at where your money actually goes, you’ll be able to see how much of it you’ll be able to spend on a dog someday! Start with this guide to tracking your spending, or download my exclusive track-your-spending spreadsheet.

55 Comments on “How Much Does It Cost To Have a Dog Per Month?”

  1. Tyler

    Wow! I don’t think I spend anywhere near that amount on our dog. And she is huge too, and eats a lot! She’s a 75 lb husky mix. We found that the best quality, best price food can be bought at tractor supply company. We buy her a huge bag at less than $1/lb.

    But we also don’t have insurance and choose to self-insure. We put $75 in an emergency fund ever month. She’s young and healthy, so we hope we’ll have enough cash by the time she starts getting sick. We don’t want to have to make any hard decisions.

    We also only buy toys during Christmas and store them in the closet. Toys are super cheap around Christmas time.

    The only thing that is super expensive is the vet visit.

    But, overall, I agree. It’s totally worth it. Could we read FI much quicker without a dog? Ya, probably by a couple years. But what’s the point of being FI if you don’t have the most loving companion in the world?

    1. Desirae

      I totally agree – as much as yes, I could allocate this money towards my other financial goals, what’s the point of forgoing something that makes me so happy?

      Also, I had never even considered a tractor supply store, but it makes sense! Are you located near or in a rural area, or is this the kind of thing people could find in or near cities? If so, I am so down to check it out! (I had been so happy with the frugal Costco food too, because like yours, it rings in at just about $1 per pound, which for a big dog is great!)

      Thanks for the comment Tyler! And kudos on having a pet emergency fund!

  2. Jordann

    Wow, this is super interesting because I spend much, much less. For the past four years I have been budgeting $60/month for my dog and my two cats. That covers Costco dog/cat food, litter, vet visits and vaccinations for the dog, flea and tick meds for all three pets, litter locker replacement bags, dog bags, and new equipment/bones.

    I save money by shopping at Costco, not over-vaccinating, not carrying pet insurance (I self-insure through my topped up emergency fund) and by taking it easy on the toy/gear purchases, but still! $720 per year vs. over $4,000!

    1. Desirae

      That’s amazing Jordann – I would LOVE to read a breakdown of how your budget gets allocated and what kinds of prices you’ve been able to find in your area! I’ve heard rumours that vet prices around here are pretty pricey in comparison, so that probably contributes, but still. I’m so glad you’ve found a way to fit all three of your pets into your budget like that! (And forgive me if you’ve written about it a while ago – I’d love a link to it if you have!)

      1. Jordann

        I haven’t done an update since we added the second kitty, so perhaps I’ll spend this month gathering data on prices and then write an update!

  3. Money Beagle

    *sigh* I have a cat that has suffered from occasional bouts of constipation through his life, and he’s currently in the middle of a bout that is unlike anything he’s ever gone through, and it’s very evident in the costs we’ve incurred this month alone. And, through his life he’s been on medicine and a special diet. We also board him when we’re away so that adds up.

    You’re absolutely right, the costs are huge.

    1. Desirae

      Oh no! I’m so sorry to hear your cat is going through that – and by extension, that you’re going through it! Pet illnesses, in addition to being expensive, are super stressful (at least for me anyways!) I hope your cat starts pooping again soon? (I never thought I’d talk about poop as much as I do as a dog owner. My god. Another side effect of dog ownership, and we don’t even know each other. Can’t take me anywhere anymore.)

  4. paige

    Girl, PREACH.

    I’m not sure I could love my dogs more, but they cost MONEY. Until recently, we had two dogs and the little guy – Bacon, a 3.5 lbs miniture Yorkie – cost 4x as much as his 20 lbs sister. We adopted Bacon when he was four. He passed away when he was eight. One day I decided to add up the numbers. Horror. Average of $350/month at the vet, $125/month food (special food for a bad tummy). So, close to $6000 a year for 4 years. Keep in mind he was the size of potatoe.

    I adored that little guy, he made me laugh everyday, but OMG.

    On the other hand, his mix breed sister costs a little less then $1000/year. She’s pretty low maintenance!

    Lesson learned: Always have a dog, but mutts all the way ????

    1. Desirae

      I do love a good mutt, but your tiny potato dog sounds absolutely adorable – I can only imagine the antics and size of personality he must have had! I’m so sorry you lost him Paige. Also, all of the kudos and high fives for being such a wonderful dog owner for him during those years – you made his life so great! Even with his poor tummy and expensive tastes, you were there for him, and that gets about a billion high fives.

      1. paige

        Thanks, Desirae ????

        And yes, he had personality in spades. He earned himself the nickname ‘Tiny Overlord’.

        (That’s him in my avatar pic)

    1. Desirae

      I had never heard of this, but I’m going to look into it! Thank you for the heads up Suze – this might be an awesome solution to at least part of my dog spending, while keeping him safe and healthy 🙂

  5. Scott

    Further proof I can’t afford a dog… darn! I can keep borrowing yours when required, right?

    Great piece – and something I wish more people put thought into before adding a furry member of the family.

    1. Desirae

      Thanks Scotty! You are a huge lifesaver in terms of “borrowing” the dog, i.e. keeping him from tearing down the house while we’re gone! Anytime you want dog snuggles you know where to find him. I would lend him out as a good wingman too but he’s a jumper, so. Might not be quite the effect you’re going for.

  6. Our Next Life

    I think it’s true that pets — like most everything! — cost more than you think they will. But I’ll also say that having a small dog (or tiny dogs, like ours) is way cheaper. Mostly from food savings (which can be enormous!), but also because you don’t always have to do the same flea and tick meds for dogs that mostly stay inside, which trims off some vet visits and med expenses. Also, we’ve occasionally been able to negotiate a better rate on the rare occasion when we’ve had to board them, because two small dogs can occupy a single cat cage at the vet instead of two large dog runs. So that’s an option to consider if $300+ per month sounds too high. We average under $1000 a year total for two dogs, FWIW. Though both of our dogs are currently young, and it’s smart to budget for increased expenses as they get older.

    1. Desirae

      Those are such good things to consider! I’ve heard that a few times about smaller dogs, and I’ve also known some absolutely hilarious small dogs in my time – it’s like they make up for their size in personality sometimes, haha. We ended up falling in love with our lab mix without any view to costs, but even with how expensive he is I’m kind of glad we did (although it was a very fast realization once we got to the pet store and had to buy the XL version of everything, which when you’re talking beds and crates and bags of food adds up quickly, haha.) He suits us for now – but even just seeing the food he goes through, my mind is open to small and medium dogs in the future!

      Also, since I haven’t said it yet this week, I am the most excited to someday see pictures of your dogs!

  7. Penny @ She Picks Up Pennies

    I don’t own a dog – partly because we have hardwood floors throughout our whole house and partly because I was informed that I could not be a stay-at-home dog mom. 😉 BUT in college, my roommate and I got a hamster. And I took it to the vet 4 different times in its 2.5 year life. And it required medicine twice. I’m fairly certain it ended up being the most expensive $5 pet ever, but the little stinker was just so wonderful. That’s my really convoluted way of saying I would be right there with you on high pet expenses if I had a dog – and I say they’re worth every penny.

    1. Desirae

      Oh man Penny I talk about being a stay-at-home dog mom LITERALLY every day. “What would you do if you won the Powerball?” Stay at home dog mom. “Do you want to go to work today?” I’d rather be a stay at home dog mom.

      Someday I’ll be financially independent and have a ton of dogs. It’s going to happen.

      And your hamster sounds like it had a wonderful, happy, cared for life with you guys! I’m glad I’m not alone on the pet expenses thing, haha.

  8. Megan

    Des! Sweet article. My band(mates) have two dogs, a 6lb chihuahua and a 70lb lab mix like Jacob. We barely have enough money for ourselves so we can’t afford vet visits at all. And luckily the survival centre in Northampton not only gives us food, but gives us food for our dogs too! So thoughtful. And if the dogs needs a new leash we find shoelaces or rope, or sometimes a friend/parent will generously get one for them. Also there are dog harnesses at the dollar store! And for babysitting while on tour there are “dog grandparents” in town who love those two as much as we do, thank god.

    One time Little Dog ate chocolate and we had to take him to the emergency room and since we didnt have money the vets gave him something to make him throw it up that only ended up costing us $100. And walmart sells flea medication for $15 now.

    But wow, thanks so much for sharing your super specific expenses! Really helpful stuff and so interesting to think about! We were curious do you have a separate bank account for your emergency dog savings?? Or are all your savings in one account and you keep track of the different parts on your own?

    p.s. “my” website is little dog’s facebook page LOL

    1. Desirae

      WALMART SELLS FLEA MEDS? Excuse me while I pull some Black Friday style madness to get some of that, ASAP. My greatest hope (for now anyways) is that this is true in Canada as well as the States.

      And actually, I do have a separate account for him, lol. I was keeping allllll of my savings lumped together in one account, but then I kind of… kept spending it and not keeping track of what was what. I use Tangerine for my banking so it’s stupid easy to set up more savings accounts and name them fun nicknames to keep everything sorted. It’s helpful because now I know what’s my “gifts and spending” saving, and what’s my “emergency fund no seriously don’t spend this money… seriously” saving. Online banking is the best for that – it’s likely that all online banks would let you set up multiple accounts? But as for US banks… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

  9. Jillian

    Well. I just did the math (I only have numbers tracked for four months), and it works out to $318 a month for my two dogs. Some extraordinary things have happened in that time. I’ve only had the second dog since December, and there were start up costs involved. The older puppy ran away in October, and that cost extra in vet bills and I spend about $250 on a baby gate for the front door and a tracking collar for if she gets out again. Still… This isn’t counting any savings, since I have one emergency fund for everything. I hate to say it, but I think $300 is probably a very fair amount for my dogs. It’s crazy, but they are definitely worth it.

    1. Desirae

      Honestly I feel the same way for one dog! (Who eats enough for two, lol.) I’m so sorry to hear that your puppy ran away – that must have been terrifying, and I wouldn’t have stopped for a second to buy All The Things to make sure it didn’t happen again, or that I had systems in place like you do now to make sure I could handle it if it did. Do you find the collar is useful? I’d be super interested to hear which one you got, since we sometimes let the dog off leash at the cottage and it’d be great to have a bit of peace of mind as he romps through the woods. He always comes back within minutes, but if there’s a squirrel, all bets are off for a few minutes. It’s far, far away from any trouble he could get into, but it’d still be nice to track him in the worst case scenario.

  10. C@thesingledollar

    Yeesh. I’m trying to work myself up to this, since I am in LOVE with my housemate’s dog (all ten pounds of him) and it’s clear to me that whenever we part ways, probably this summer, I’m going to need one of my own STAT. But the costs do freak me out! It’s as bad as babies!

    1. Desirae

      That’s what my boss said – he doubts his kids cost him that much per month! But if you’re into small dogs, Our Next Life had an awesome point that the food costs and some vet costs are way lower! Plus, when we got our dog, we had to buy the XL version of everything, which can literally double the cost of things like beds and crates and chew toys. Getting a dog that would be a happy camper in the S or M version of doggy gear would actually be a (somewhat) frugal option!

      Plus I have no doubt our insurance premiums factor in the “labs eat everything” genetic predisposition we’re working with.

      That said, I think it’s super responsible to be thinking about it ahead of time! I wish someone had told me how much I’d be spending at this kind of level – not that it would have made ANY difference, but like… it would have been good to know, haha.

  11. Allie

    I also would have estimated around a $100/month ballpark figure for dog expenses… until I actually became a dog owner and started keeping track of expenses! DOGS ARE EXPENSIVE. ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A CRAZY DOG MOM.

    I am proud dog mama to Fritz the German Shepherd – he’s just over a year and a half old, and around 80 pounds. My boyfriend and I got Fritz in a semi-rescue situation, so he is a pure bred GSD, but we only paid $500 to take him home. He was already 5 months old when we got him, and had been living outside in a pack with his brothers and sisters, so we missed the “tiny puppy” stage as well with him.

    As we have had the guy for just over a year now, I have looked back at what his costs have been – and this is what I can come up with! It should be noted that we live in small-town Northern British Columbia (the closest Costco is a 5 hour drive away, there is only one pet store in town, and two veterinary offices – shopping around for good prices is not always an option here!).

    ONE-TIME COSTS
    Initial purchase price – $500
    Neutering – $250, as he had already reached the “over 35kg” price point
    Total = $750. If he lives to 11 years, this is somewhere around $5/month over his lifetime.

    VET COSTS
    Fritz came to us as a worm-filled, underweight, un-neutered, 5-month old dog who had never had any vaccinations or seen a veterinarian in his life. So our initial vet costs were higher than I would imagine the average “organized adoption” or “reputable breeder” purchased dog would be.

    Initial shots, deworming etc – 3 vet visits totaling around $400
    “summer” medications (heartworm, fleas & ticks, kennel cough) – $300

    So for his first year, “normal” costs were around $58/month
    In future years, I would expect this to be closer to your routine vet costs… let’s say $30/month.

    Fritz has already racked up some pretty significant “emergency” and “illness” related expenses in the year that we have had him:
    1) Fritz is an avid backcountry ski enthusiast (okay…maybe is ‘parents’ are and he feels obligated to tag along). Unfortunately, he can be quite excitable, and one time this resulted in him cutting off/running into my boyfriend and his snowboard as we dropped into a line in our local mountain range.
    Result? A very nasty gash on Fritz’ front leg from the snowboard, a whole lot of puppy blood loss, 12 emergency (after hours) stitches, a drainage tube, and a week of ‘cone time’.
    The vet bill? $675
    2) Fritz is a purebred dog, and that can sometimes mean hereditary/higher risk of health problems. For him, this has translated into very sensitive skin, which is prone to infection. As I am told, this is relatively common in German Shepherds. This year alone, he has had one case of puppy mange, two ear infections, and three paw infections.
    The vet bills have totaled somewhere around $650 (and this is after some favors and discounts at the vet’s office)
    We seem to have the trigger pinpointed to a food sensitivity, and things are now managed in a combination of dietary restrictions (see FOOD COSTS), and antibacterial/anti-fungal soaps.

    So emergency vet costs have come in at $1325 (!!!!!) this year ($110/month) – which came out of the emergency fund we had for him before his purchase. Maybe time for some pet insurance?

    FOOD:
    He was eating the “good, but not top of the line” food before we figured out his health issues, which cost us $55 for a large bag.

    Now that he is on a fish based, limited ingredient, grain free diet to manage his skin irritations, we are paying $75 for the same size bag of food.

    As a very very active dog (we live on a 300-acre farm, and he gets to go hiking/biking/ski touring etc around 4 times a week on average) he generally goes through 1.5 to 2 bags of food a month to keep him at his optimal, veterinarian recommended weight.

    He also gets dental chews for his teeth – a box is $30 and lasts a month.

    So, his average monthly food bill is around…$160/month (and after reading your article, I am really wishing we had a Costco close by!)

    GEAR:
    So. I’ll be the first to admit that my dog is pretty spoiled. This is the one category where I am not really sure what the monthly costs have been – my boyfriend and I both routinely buy treats (he only gets grain-free salmon based treats – $11 a bag), toys (the only thing he doesn’t destroy in 2 seconds are the ‘extreme’ Kongs, and rubber ‘chuck-it’ balls…there have been many, many lost and destroyed toys over the year). He has a bed in the living room and a bed in our bedroom (both around $60). He has a weird talent for breaking collars (he’s had 6 I think so far, each around $15-$20). He has dog bowls, leashes, nail clipper, brush, toothbrush/toothpaste, ear cleaner etc.
    I have a suspicion that this probably creeps upwards of $65/month. Probably more.

    OTHER:
    The two expenses that we have had that are not otherwise accounted for are:

    1) Dog sitting/Kennel
    This year, we went home for the holidays for 3 weeks, and Fritz stayed at a kennel while we were in Ontario. He also spent 6 other days in friends/kennel care throughout the year. It costs us $20/day to have him looked after.
    For the year, it cost us $570 (we give a small tip to the kennel), or $47/month.

    2) Training
    Fritz took a basic obedience course this year, which cost us $120 for 6 lessons (which ended up being private, hour long sessions because our trainer just really really likes training dogs I guess?)

    He also took a “scent and tracking” training course (top of his class, I might add!) for the same price. $120 for 6 lessons.

    $240 this year in training costs, or $20/month

    For a grand total of $610/year, or $67/month in “other costs”

    TOTALS
    In our first year on dog ownership, we spent upwards of $6100 (!!!!) on Fritz the German Shepherd ($508/month). $750 of this was his one-time purchase-and-neuter cost, so let’s call it $5350 of ‘expenses’… or $445/month.
    Keep in mind that this price reflects his health issues and medical mishaps for the year. Where we live also makes it harder to shop around for cheaper options.

    And guess what? He’s totally worth it! Although I am now shopping around for pet insurance options 🙂

    I am also a horse owner – speaking of totally financially-irresponsible-at-this-stage-of-my-life ‘luxury’ spending that makes me feel fulfilled in my life….but that’s a whole other story 🙂

    1. Desirae

      Allie this is such a rock star reply, thank you for going into so much detail!

      While I’m glad I’m not the only one spending upwards of a few hundred a month on the dog, I’m sorry you’ve had to incur so many expenses in the first little while with him! He’s a lucky, lucky dog to have you – and to go on such amazing adventures all the time! 300 ACRES?! So cool! It sounds like both you and he and your boyfriend are living the dream – which makes me so happy to hear, you totally deserve it!

      I seriously loved reading this – thank you for taking the time to share it!

      1. Allie

        I showed your article, as well as my breakdown of costs to my boyfriend last night – and he was shocked! He had only really taken food into Fritz’ monthly expenses…and was underestimating how much the little (not so little) guy really eats!

        It prompted us to talk about the dog budget for a ‘normal’ year (hopefully in the future our vet bills will be more under control!)

        It looks something like:
        Food: $160/month. We decided that this couldn’t really be compromised at this point for specific heath reasons.
        Vet: $30/month (includes routine check 1 per year, vaccinations and summer meds)
        Emergency Fund: $100/month. We still have a bit of money saved for him, but he depleted his buffer quite a bit and we’d like to have $1500 in savings again by the end of the year.
        Gear: $30/month. This allows him to replace his destroyed/lost favourite toy every month, and get a bag of treats, and a little left over to save for the more infrequently purchased things like new beds etc.. We are pretty set up with all the one-time-ish dog basics now.
        Other (aka Dog Sitting): $28/month I have 4 weeks of vacation a year, and we figured that we would only spend maximum half of that time somewhere where the dog couldn’t come with us. His kennel cost is $20/day ($280 for 2 weeks) plus a small tip.

        That brings us to $348/month. Pretty similar to you! This would increase a bit if we choose to get him insured.

        1. Desirae

          Oh that’s so awesome Allie – seriously, knowing that this blog is helping people talk about things like this is THE absolute best thing ever. And of course I’m going to say that sounds like a totally reasonable dog budget, because it’s similar to mine, lol, but it does sound so reasonable!

          Every person who has replied on Facebook with “lol my dog costs like $60 a month” makes me want to shake them and tell them to track their spending. I mean yes, some other bloggers have replied with great points about their frugal dog ownership, and I know they track their spending, so cool! Totally happy for them. But randoms on Facebook? Yeah, you only *think* your dog doesn’t cost you a ton of money. Good luck to you, sir.

          If nothing else, we’re just being responsible by acknowledging that yes, our dogs are bonkers expensive, lol.

  12. Alyssa @ GenerationYRA

    I sincerely appreciate this breakdown of costs, Des! Especially considering my fiancé & I haven’t taken the plunge in adopting – but I know it will be bound to happen soon. 🙂 I would be in the same category of a dog would be luxury in that we would love spending more time with it.

    1. Desirae

      I’m glad it’s helpful! I have heard that vet costs tend to be a bit lower in the States, so that’s definitely something that might help – and dollar for dollar you’ll probably pay less too, since all of this is in the sadness factory that is the Canadian dollar right now, haha. I’m so excited for you and your fiance – adopting a dog really is one of the greatest things I’ve done as an adult! (And I say this as my dog is trying to chew on a bone directly on top of my lap and getting slobber just EVERYWHERE. Still worth it.)

  13. ARBM

    This is a very timely post for us… We have been wanting to get a dog for a long time, but I keep putting it off because I know we need to get various things sorted out (like a proper fence in our backyard) before we can feasibly get a dog. But now I can add some money targets to the list too. I had an original dog fund goal of $1000, but I may need to increase that now that I read about all of this…

    We currently have two cats, and I am planning on writing a post about cat expenses soon as we are expecting a big one next month, but over the past 10 months of tracking expenses, we have totaled $550 in vet & pet specific expenses, so that is only $55/month. But, in that time we luckily have had no major vet emergencies and haven’t been required to pay any kitty-jail bail… and a lot of the food expenses get lumped in to our own food expenses since I can buy some of their food at the grocery store. So maybe it is more like $80/month.

    1. Desirae

      I think you’re in a great place if you’re already tracking pet expenses! I’ve had a few people who I know do not track expenses say to me on Facebook that they spend WAY LESS than this on their dogs, and to be totally honest, knowing that they don’t track their expenses I don’t even take them seriously, haha. But if you’re thinking ahead, knowing what the cats cost and saving up, you’re on the right track!

      Although I will say the fenced in yard can be a lifesaver in the dead of winter when the dog has to pee and it’s freezing cold outside, haha. He still gets walks, but sometimes… it’s into the back yard we go!

  14. Robyn

    Interesting read Des! We also have a lab (x springer spaniel) and I would have estimated $100 per month to keep her as that’s how much we spend on dog food per month. But I’d forgotten about the treats we pick up at the supermarket each week, and the poop bags we used on our daily walks. She only goes to the vet once per year but it’s always an unwelcome and unprepared for expense, we must get more organised with putting money aside for it!

    1. Desirae

      I TOTALLY get that! For the longest time I only thought about the recurring expense of food every month, and never bothered to tally up my – at the time – habit of picking up toys and treats a few times a month, much less saving for those upcoming vet bills. It’s a process for sure – but being aware of it is an awesome step! Honestly, I was shocked when I did this analysis, since even as I tracked my spending it never really hit me.

  15. Anum @ Current On Currency

    When I first got my puppy (lab & gsd mix) I figured it would cost around $2000 a year. I guess that’s similar to the number you came up with since I didn’t have a pet emergency fund or buy pet insurance. But after about six months into caring for my puppy, I realized I needed to have a cash cushion in case of vet emergencies (he is SO hyper and he’s strong enough to shove me to the side and run straight for traffic). Thanks for breaking down all these costs! It’s an eye-opener for sure – I really wish more people would go into dog ownership knowing exactly how much of a financial commitment it is, as well as being an emotional one.

    1. Desirae

      $2000 sounds like a totally reasonable estimate for a large breed! But oh man do I ever feel you on having a dog strong enough to do what he wants if he really wants to, haha. That was a big reason for the emergency fund and insurance in the first place – we’re lucky nothing worse happened, but he took off into the woods and cut his paw. Sounds innocuous, but four stitches and $700 later, I was all aboard the pet insurance train, lol. Have you done any training classes with your dog? That was an additional expense that hasn’t been reoccurring, but that might come up again in the future just as a fun thing to do with him (plus, having a big dog means things like jumping aren’t so much “cute” as “oh my god you knocked over Grandma,” haha.)

    2. Katelynne

      This line : “he’s strong enough to shove me to the side and run straight for traffic” is pretty much the reason we purchased dog insurance. One day he was chasing a bunny down a (quiet suburban street), in the dark and all I could think was “That f&*#er, this is going to be expensive.”

  16. Victoria

    Hi Desirae,

    What pet insurance company did you get for your doggy? As a new mom to a pug puppy who has been diligently tracking all the costs, yes they are higher than expected but we cannot put a price on the joy that she has brought to our home! My parents pass by just to see the doggy!

    1. Desirae

      Hahaha my mom does the same thing! She calls him her “granddog.”

      And I went with Pet Plan – I got the Bronze version with $8000 of coverage for accidents and illnesses, and I chose the highest deductible ($200) and only 80% coverage. The goal is mostly to cover the bulk of a major unexpected cost, not to make sure I never have to cover smaller things, which is nice because it keeps the monthly cost out of the $80-$100 range!

      If you have any other questions I’m a total dog nerd and happy to talk more about it!

  17. Katelynne

    So I took a look at our spreadsheet because this made me think. April-December 2015, we spent $2,585 on our dog between vet, food, training, and insurance. I think there’s probably about +$500 in there that didn’t get logged as specific Carl expenses (peanut butter, dollar store stuffed animals he destroys, a 30$ dog bed from Costco, super occasional visit to doggy daycare, the time we boarded him when we went on a trip [weird that one didn’t get logged]) So I’d be will to guess our upper limit in the 2/3rds of last year was around $3,000. Early in 2015, it was just food costs but at the high level I’d say $3500 in 2015 so ~$300/month.

    We are taking on a second dog today who is smaller but will need food & training but luckily no apparent gear at this time as he should have everything. I’m hoping we can manage the expense and NOT double them. Here’s hoping 🙂

    Great post! And, as always, super cute dog 🙂

    1. Desirae

      Ok so I’ve covered this on Twitter already, but OMG NEW DOG DAY I AM NOT YET OVER IT. You’re great, and dogs are great, and you guys are going to have so much fun. Although yes, here’s hoping it doesn’t mean double the costs!

      I also died laughing at the “peanut butter” not getting logged at a Carl expense, because that is SO something I should take into account, lol. I eat the all-natural peanut butter, but I have to admit that The Dog gets the Kraft stuff from Costco in his Kong every day. I feel like anyone who doesn’t double their peanut butter budget for a big dog (or any dog, really) is just lying to themselves.

  18. Jaymee

    My partner and I would love to add a dog to our family. I’m happy to have read this to know what to expect in terms of expenses 🙂 Anything that would help us prepare is awesome! Thanks for writing this Desirae.

    1. Desirae

      Anytime Jaymee – I hope it helps! Knowing costs ahead of time – even estimates – was a huge help when we went into dog ownership so I really hope this ends up being a useful data point for you! (And when you do end up adding a dog – send pictures!)

  19. Shona

    This is such a useful post. When I got my Burmese cat 18 months ago, I seriously underestimated how much it would cost me to keep him happy and healthy. I blithely thought I’d buy his meals at the supermarket amongst the other groceries and barely notice the cost, and that other than that we’d go to the vet once a year for a check-up/vaccination. So I guesstimated about $50 per month. Reality turns out to be much more like $180 per month. And no, I’m not feeding him gold dust; but I am feeding him the vet-approved dental diet combined with fresh raw meat. I have pet insurance, I worm him each month, my family live in another state so I have regular pet-sitting fees, he got sick and needed treatment that wasn’t fully covered by insurance (he’s totally fine now), he’s indoors all the time so we go through quite a lot of cat litter and also he needs a reasonable amount of toys and things to do. I’m really conscious about keeping costs down so here are some of the tactics I use:
    – I buy bulk bags of his litter and his dry food when the petstore has 25% off/free delivery specials
    – I’ve researched and price compared all the various petstores and animal goods outlets in my area or delivering in my area, and I buy different items from different places depending on where the price is best
    – I exchange pet minding services with local friends to cut costs when I can
    – I pay attention to Ollie’s diet and health and risk factors for his breed, with the view that ‘prevention is better than cure’
    -I improvise lots of his toys – he’s often just as excited to have an empty cardboard box or a rolled up ball of foil or the lid off a bottle of milk to play with as he is with toy mice from the store.

    In summary: he cost a lot more than I thought. He’s fabulous company, every day, and I’m so very pleased to have him in my life, but even though I thought I had done my sums properly in advance I was way off base.

    1. Desirae

      Shona this is so awesome, thank you for going into so much detail about cat ownership! I had a cat growing up but beyond the cost of the one time we needed to get her dental surgery, I never really knew how much it cost. (My mom never got tired of talking about how much that one dental surgery cost though, lol.) I think it’s so valuable that you took the time to add this information – thank you!

      I also agree with everything you said, especially when it comes to prevention being cheaper than a cure! (And I laughed my butt off at your comment about feeding your cat gold dust, because omg it really can feel like that sometimes, I know!)

  20. Chris

    I was wrong when I guessed how much it would cost a month I have two dogs and with all the treats, toys, food etc. I spend at least $200 if not more a month so I can see spending over $4,000 a year having a dog isn’t cheap they are a member of your family and should be treated as one in my opinion. I’m a proud owner of a female Doberman and a male Rottweiler.

    1. Desirae

      Awwww I love Dobermans and Rottweilers! Rotties especially, they’re just so cuddly looking (although I know well enough to actually get to know the dog before going for a cuddle, lol.) And I’m right there with you on the member-of-the-family thing – there’s very little I wouldn’t do for my dog!

  21. hodgepodgefinances

    Just found your blog, so commenting twice in one day. We have two dogs and we budget about 300 dollars per month. Our dogs have to eat pricey high maintenance food and both have long hair that we have to pay for grooming on a regular basis. Last month we spent well over 500 dollars due to unexpected illnesses, but I love the little buggers.

    1. Desirae

      SAME! Oh man, totally agree – I budget about $150 for actual spending on the dog, plus what I save in his emergency fund, but on vet-visit months it goes way over. Last month was just shy of $300, and that’s because we were on an off month for food costs, haha.

      Such a dog owner thing to say, but at least it wasn’t a $600 vet bill!

  22. Emily

    I am desperate to do a cost run-down now! I know we spend $200 every 6 weeks on food, treats, antlers, and toys, but I’m sure there is a lot more to it. We’ve spent $750 in the last 4 months on a dog sitter….yikes!

    One note, beware of the vet recommended dental diet! I adore and trust our vet (as I’m sure you do too) but I do not trust any recommendations related to nutrition. The dental diet really does not have a lot going for it, other than tooth scraping. I recommend getting around that by using the dental diet for treats, adding some bones/antlers and continuing with your regular food. I know…who I am to be preaching to the masses, but it’s worth looking into!

    I just found your blog, and love it! I see that this is an old post and you may not see this comment, but I hope you do!

  23. JEFF

    The raw food diet will remove all need for teeth cleaning and special “dental diet”. Kibble turns to tartar on teeth and ferments in the stomach because it lowers the acidity level in a dogs stomach. Look into the raw diet before buying any “vet” food. So many benefits and cheaper then all the vet trips!

  24. Laura Ducharme

    Caring for a Senior Dog can be even more depending on their health. Their needs change as they age. A lot of dog owners aren’t prepared for that. Sadly some give up on them due to the expense. Budget more for their golden years.

  25. Gokul

    I love my small maltese, but it definitely costs a lot per month, well over 500, a month. Over $6000 a year.
    My main expense is the dog walking service during the day. Its 20 bucks a day for a 30 minute walk . So if I am in the office on average 17-20 days a month, its 400 a month right there. plus food – about 60 a month, grooming service 90 a month. Pet insurance 40.
    I am trying to work from home more often. So the dog walking bill can be reduced.

    1. Desirae

      So much yes – you sound like a wonderful dog owner to make sure your dog gets the amount of attention it needs during the day!! Although it can be expensive, it’s something I think is so important and advise all new owners on – if you can’t walk your dog yourself as much as it needs, you’ll need to budget for it!

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