How Much Does it Cost to Have a Dog?

Q: I’d love to have a dog, but I’m not sure I can afford one. What kind of expenses am I looking at if I bring a furry canine friend home?

A: Owning and caring for a dog doesn’t come cheap. But, if you work out the numbers before moving forward, you’ll know what to expect and have an easier time budgeting for these new expenses.

Here’s a rundown of what buying and owning a dog can cost.

Start-up costs

First, let’s take a look at the larger expenses that you’ll, fortunately, only need to pay once.

If you decide to buy a purebred from a breeder, it’ll run you $500-$2,000. This cost may be offset by lower healthcare expenses, as purebreds from reputable breeders are generally healthier. If you get your dog from a shelter, you can pay as little as $50 or up to $200.

You’ll need to spring for some doggy gear before bringing your pet home, including a bed, a collar and leash, a feeding bowl and some toys, for starters. Combined, these should run you, on average, about $50-$100.

If you want to get your dog trained, you can pay as little as $25 for a single class, or up to $300 for a full course of training, plus resource materials.

Next, is getting your dog spayed or neutered, which can add $20-$300 to your initial costs.

Licensing, vaccinations and a microchip will bring that total up by $110-$360.

Total one-time costs: $255-$3,060

Ongoing costs

Once you’ve paid the costs to bring your dog home, you’ll need to consider what it costs to care for your pet each month.

Dog food

Your four-pawed friend’s got to eat, but how much is dog food going to run you? That depends on several variables.

First, how much are you able to spend? The cheapest dog food can cost less than a dollar a pound, but if you go gourmet, expect to pay gourmet prices, or up to $1.60/lb.

The size of your dog also plays a role in how much the food will cost. A small 3-pound pup will only need 140 calories a day, or ⅓ cup of food, while a 100-pound beast will need a whopping 1,925 calories a day, or 4½ cups of food.

Finally, consider your dog’s special dietary requirements. A bag of food for dogs with sensitive stomachs can cost as much as $2.60/lb.

Total monthly cost: $20-80 

Preventative health care and routine well visits

All dogs will need some medication to prevent common conditions, like heartworms, fleas and ticks. Some vets may recommend vitamins or other supplements and dogs should also have their teeth brushed occasionally. Costs for these preventative measures will vary by the size of the dog and its general health.

Most vets also advise dog owners to bring their pets in for a wellness checkup at least once a year. The cost of this visit will vary by location and practitioner.

Total monthly cost: $20-80

Grooming and bathing 

If you’ll be giving doggy baths at home or out in the yard and trimming its claws, you can save hundreds of dollars a year. If you’ll be hiring someone else to do the washing and occasional grooming, these costs can add another $100 to your monthly dog costs.

Total monthly cost: $0-100

Doggy day care, boarding and walking

Here’s where doggy costs can start to skyrocket.

Doggy day care averages $40 a day, while individuals who travel often can expect to add another $100 to their pet costs for every overnight stay. Hiring someone to walk your dog will bring these costs up even more, with professional dog-walking services charging as much as $30 for every half-hour walk.

Total monthly cost: $0-600

So, how much does it cost, in total, to own a dog? After the initial costs, expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $960 a month, depending on how much you choose to spend and how often you’ll need to leave your pet in day care.

That furry friend doesn’t come cheap, but you can’t put a price on the companionship, and boundless love, that a dog will bring you. Be sure to review the costs before bringing your pet home, and to make sure you can comfortably afford these new expenses.

Enjoy your four-legged friend!

Your Turn: Have you recently purchased or adopted your own furry friend? Tell us how you cover your new expenses.

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Be A Green Pet Owner

Tips for being a more environmentally friendly dog and cat owner

We love our pets,IMN23523A2 so naturally we want to do everything we can to make them happy in return for the joy they bring us. Pet ownership can take a toll on the environment, however, so there are some things you should keep in mind in to be sure that you are as kind to the environment as you are to your cat or dog.

Many people do not realize the magnitude of the effect that our pets can have on the environment.

“They can have a big impact, especially when you consider that there are about 175 million dogs and cats in the U.S.,” says Katherine Miller, an animal behaviorist with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to lesson your impact. Here are a few to get you started:

Go biodegradable
If you use waste bags to pick up after your dog, make sure that they are biodegradable so they don’t clog up landfills. The difference that biodegradable baggies make is tremendous.

“They typically break down in about one month as opposed to an estimated 1,500 years for a plastic bag in a landfill,” states Kristine Lacoste from Pets Adviser.

If you have a cat, also make sure you are using biodegradable products.

“Cat litter is available in all-natural and biodegradable forms, and you can even consider making your own pet waste compost container,” states Lacoste.

Purchase eco-friendly supplies
When you first took home your pet, you may have been shocked at the variety of supplies you needed. One leash is never enough, and many dogs are picky about the types of beds and toys they will play with.

Fortunately, there are many manufacturers that make green pet products, such as by using organic and recycled materials, lessening your pet’s environmental footprint. Furthermore, if you buy toys and gear that are made in the US, you will prevent the need for unnecessary shipping.

West Paw ( and are two companies that prioritize the environment, but there are many others, so look for them next time you are at the pet store or shopping online.

Purchase locally made food
“The best pet foods are meat based, and meat production takes up precious agricultural land,” according to “Try to compensate for this by using minimally processed foods that contain meat from locally raised animals and organic vegetables.”

In order to reduce the amount of shipping that it took to produce your dog or cat food, read labels carefully. Look for packages that state the food is both made in the US and uses ingredients sourced here. If the label only says made in the US, then the ingredients may still have been sourced from another country.

Lastly, if you avoid beef-based food, you will also lessen your pet’s impact.

“Beef production reportedly uses more resources than other forms of protein, such as chicken or rabbit,” states Lacoste. “Switching to a pet food based on proteins other than beef helps lower the environmental impact of the food.”

Make your own treats
While it can be difficult to make your pet’s own food while still achieving the right nutritional balance, treats should only account for a very small portion of your pet’s diet, so they don’t have to feature the same balance of nutrients as food. This means that you can make your own pet treats and seriously decrease the amount of fuel required to bring your pet’s rewards to your door.

Depending on what your pet prefers, you can use your oven or a dehydrator to make chicken jerky, you can freeze low sodium broth in an ice cube tray for hot days, or you can even bake cookies using one of the pet-friendly recipes that are easily found online.

Here are some recipes from Martha Stewart online to get you started:

Save your scraps
Even if you don’t want to cook your own treat cookies, you can save any pet-safe food scraps to use a treats. Leftover lean meat and egg can both be great treats, for example. Make sure to avoid fatty and salty foods and to not feed too large of a portion of your pet’s calories as treats.

Many owners are surprised that their dogs love vegetables and fruits, so save your scraps and give it a try. Just be sure not to feed grapes, raisins, onions or any of the other foods that the ASPCA lists as harmful to pets at

It is easy to be a green pet owner when you follow these tips, and you’ll surely be inspired to learn more ways to be earth friendly once you get started.

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.

Translating Your Pet’s Body Language

Have you ever wondered whatIMN1822T2 your pet is thinking? Is it hungry? Angry? Happy? Around the world, animal experts and average pet owners alike have theories about animal communication.

It may be clear to you that your dog’s tail wags when he or she is excited, but here are some other body language signals as observed by the Mendocino Coast Humane Society in California:

  • A tail curled under, along with a head and rear lowered with an arched back may mean that your dog is worried.
  • An open mouth with tail down and weight flat on feet can indicate that he or she is relaxed.
  • A confident dog will have his or her ears forward while a submissive dog, or one who is feeling meek, will often have its ears flat or back.

Cats are often independent creatures, and like the Sphinx of Egypt, they emit an aura of mystery. The Animal Health Clinic of Funkstown, in Maryland, offers some guidelines for understanding your feline friend:

  • While purring is usually something a cat does when happy, the experts in Funkstown believe that cats sometimes purr when in fear.
  • A twitching tail can indicate that your cat is excited over something (such as a bird or squirrel), but it can also signal territorial arousal.
  • Leg rubbing is part of a natural marking behavior, and your cat will attempt to cover you in his or her pheromones (from glands found on the face), so you and your environment will have a comforting scent.

Rabbits may seem like pretty passive creatures, but the folks at the Wisconsin Humane Society believe that these furry friends have a more complex communication system than we may think. Here are some of their observations:

  • Gnashing of the teeth signals that the rabbit is completely relaxed, often occurring during petting.
  • Thumping or tapping of the feet may indicate that the rabbit is fearful or excited. In the wild, thumping is used in burrows to announce danger to other rabbits.

No matter what type of pet you have, whether a guinea pig or a goldfish, you probably recognize certain signals and body language movements. Although every animal has a different personality, current research indicates that there is perhaps a universal set of signals that certain animals use to communicate with each other and their human companions. For more science and fascinating facts about the communication abilities of everything from mosquitoes to elephants, visit The Animal Communication Project’s website at

Used with Permission. Published by IMN Bank Adviser
Includes copyrighted material of IMakeNews, Inc. and its suppliers.