Couple Wealth | Can I afford a dog
Affiliate Disclosure: This article may include affiliate links and we may receive compensation if you click, at no cost to you.

After my wife and I got married, we wanted to expand our family to include a dog. We took the plunge after we found the perfect puppy, but found that it doesn’t come without costs. For a young couple with minimal income, adding even a few hundred dollars per year was not the easiest for us at the time.

We absolutely would not have made any other decision, but some planning and budgeting would have eased some of the financial burden.

Dogs, cats, and pets in general bring a level of happiness and companionship that can be unmatched. If you are thinking about getting a pet, be prepared to handle the costs that come with your furry friends.

Adding Our First Puppy

About 6 years ago, we were looking for a golden retriever puppy to become part of our family. We ended up finding a 4 month old puppy that stole our hearts with his playful antics. It also helped that he was mostly house broken and already knew a few basic commands.

Unfortunately, he was located in Florida and would have to be flown to New York. We gladly paid the $3,000 price tag for the puppy, along with the extra $700 in shipping.

A few days later, Cooper officially became part of our family when we picked him up from the airport. Over the first few months, we spent a good amount of money on vet checkups, puppy training, beds, crate, toys, and food.

We were lucky enough to be able to scrape together enough money to cover those extra expenses. However, we really didn’t do the math upfront to make sure they would fit into our budget.

Expanding to Puppy #2

A year ago, we thought it was time to get a second puppy to give Cooper a friend to play with. It was time to expand our family again and would let us overlap dogs so that we never have to be without one.

This time, we were able to find a local breeder and got on a waiting list early. We picked out our eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, Ellie, and took her home for $1,800.

This time, we had a few less expenses than with Cooper. We still had to pay for the vet checkups and food, but we could reuse many of the toys and supplies that we already had.

Ellie was a COVID puppy. We got her in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic while I was able to work remotely and be home with her every day. This helped to avoid having to pay for a dog walker or puppy daycare.

While still not cheap overall, having Cooper and Ellie as part of our family brings us so much happiness. If you are thinking about getting a pet, I encourage you to do so but be aware of the associated costs.

Can I Afford a Dog?

If you are contemplating getting a pet, the first step is to take stock of your financial situation. The worst option is to get a dog or cat and then realize that you can’t afford to support them properly. It is better for both you and the pet to be prepared financially.

Hopefully, you already have a budget that tracks your monthly income and expenses. If not, the first step is to track how much you are saving and make sure you have some extra monthly income that can cover the expenses of a new pet.

Next, determine your approximate costs that you may need to cover. Part of that is deciding if you will adopt your pet or want to buy from a breeder at a higher cost.

By doing this exercise, you should get a better idea of both the startup costs and the ongoing yearly expenses. Compare that to your budget to make sure you can afford it.

Don’t forget to include an emergency buffer to cover any unforeseen costs that may pop up, like emergency vet visits. Eating a sock or pile of chocolate cookies could cost you thousands of dollars in the vet ER.

Download Pet Budget Spreadsheet

Startup Costs with Getting a Dog

Here are some of the most common costs associated with getting a new dog. Keep in mind that there can be a considerable difference in price for a small dog vs. a large dog for many of these.

Total startup costs for a dog can range from $1,550 to over $3,500, depending on your choices.

Ongoing Annual Costs

After you have your new puppy settled, there will also be ongoing costs every year.

  • Food: $300 to $750
  • Treats and snacks: $200 to $400
  • Pet insurance: $600
  • Annual vet checkups: $150 to $250
  • Toys and supplies: $100
  • Dog license: $20
  • Dog sitter or walker: $400 to $2,000
  • Grooming: $100 to $500

Total annual costs associated with a dog can range from $1,800 to over $4,500 per year.

These costs are just estimates and can vary based on regional cost of living and the choices you make. There are also plenty of ways to cut costs and save money while having a dog.

For example, buying in bulk and grooming your dog yourself could dramatically reduce some of your expenses.

Additional Costs to Consider

Depending on your lifestyle, there could be other expenses to factor in to the cost of owning a dog.

One of which is what to do with your pet when you travel. Owning a pet will automatically make your travel more expensive since you will either need to board them or bring them in pet-friendly accommodations. Kennels or using a dog sitter can cost several hundred dollars per week.

Rental cleaning fees are another area that could be a hidden expense. If you rent an apartment or car, they will often charge an additional cleaning fee if you have a pet.

Dogs tend to like to eat and chew on a whole variety of things. Even if you’re super careful, accidents can happen and you may be faced with a several thousand dollar emergency vet bill.

Finally, there may be additional costs based on what you are planning to do with your dog. If you are planning to breed or show it competitively, there will be extra costs in medical care and grooming. If you are looking for a security dog or medical companion, it can cost thousands of dollars to get them trained fully.

How to Budget for a New Dog

As you are looking to get a dog, use these tips to make sure you can actually afford your cuddly friend.

  1. Make sure you can afford the basics. While there are plenty of areas to spend money on your dog, be certain that you can afford the minimum expenses. A good starting point is around $1,500 upfront and $1,500 per year.
  2. Create a pet emergency fund. This can be part of your larger emergency fund, but you should be able to cover at least $1,000 to $2,000 in emergency vet fees.
  3. Think about how they fit into your life. If you travel a lot or work 12 hour shifts, you will likely need to pay extra for dog walkers and boarding. This doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but be aware of these extra costs.
  4. Budget high, then work to cut costs. When you are planning to get a new dog, it is always better to estimate your costs on the high side. Then, work to find ways to reduce your costs to stay under budget.
  5. Add a new pet when you are ready. Just because you or your kids are begging for a new pet, it may not be the best time financially. If needed, put it off for a few months to be able to save up appropriately for the startup expenses.

Getting a puppy or new pet is an exciting time in your family’s life. They will bring you a ton of happiness and companionship, so be prepared to cover their costs.

Enjoy your four-legged friends!

Subscribe to become an exclusive Couple Wealth member for free and download our pet budget spreadsheet.

Similar Posts