Here's How Much It Costs Per Year to Own a Dog

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  • Over 98% of pet owners underestimate the cost of owning a pet.
  • First-year expenses typically cost $1,050 to $4,480, while recurring expenses typically cost $480 to $3,470 per year
  • Pet insurance can help cover the cost of dog ownership.

We love our floofy furballs, even when they turn our homes into disaster zones.

Living with a dog is lovely -- until the bill comes due. Over 98% of pet owners drastically underestimate the cost of owning a pet, according to one UK study. As a pet lover who lives with two happy dogs and two disgruntled cats, I'm familiar with that song and dance. (Think kibble costs and surprise trips to the vet). Spoiler: the cost is high.

Know what you're signing up for before embarking on the pet parenthood journey. First, you'll want to know what it costs to outfit your brand-new pet, according to data provided by

Fixed expenses

Fixed expenses are the kind you pay just once. There are a lot of these when you first adopt a furry friend. It typically costs anywhere from $1,050 to $4,480 to pay for first-time dog expenses.

The estimated top three expenses are fees for adoption, spay or neuter surgery, and initial vet exams and vaccinations. Costs for veterinary services might come down if your pet has preventive pet insurance, which typically covers checkups and standard puppy procedures.

When dog owners think of pet expenses, they might think of collars, leashes, dog bowls, and poop bags, among other things. Here are more costs potential dog owners might not consider:

  • Microchipping (around $80)
  • Pet license ($20 to 100)
  • Potty pads ($10 to 200)

When mapping out a budget, leave room for unexpected expenses like additional vet visits. You never know when your dog will swallow something weird and force you to take a hasty trip to your local emergency vet. (It's happened before.)

Recurring expenses

Recurring expenses rear their ugly heads monthly or annually. You'll want to factor these into your long-term plans on top of monthly living expenses and housing costs. Recurring costs will run you $480 to $3,470 per year, or $40 to $290 per month.

The top recurring expense is food, followed by poop bags and annual checkups. Here are more examples of recurring expenses:

  • Flea and tick prevention ($50 to $200)
  • Treats ($60 to $270)
  • Toys ($10 to $330)

Pet owners don't want to get caught unaware -- animal health is important, and the above estimates don't account for things like dental cleaning, pet insurance, and emergency vet bills. The cost of these "extras" can range from $1,210 to $1,440 annually, so plan accordingly in the event your dog eats a box of whole chocolates (twice) or spontaneously goes blind (once was enough).

Pet insurance

Pet insurance can help owners cover the cost of preventative care and emergency services. Fees typically range from $360 to $720 per year. The best pet insurance for dogs will give you the most bang for your buck.

Older dogs deserve care, too. The best pet insurance for pre-existing conditions may cover costs associated with "cured" conditions that resurface later in life. Note that insurance for older pets is typically more expensive than for younger ones.

Potential dog owners should consider doing a bit of research before bringing home a forever friend. Lifetime expenses can range from $14,000 to $94,000. It's a good idea to know how much you're willing to spend ahead of time. Your precious pooch will appreciate you for it.

Our Research Expert

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