How much does it cost to own a dog?

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Wondering whether you can afford to own a dog? Learn about the costs of owning a dog and what you should expect.

To be a responsible pet owner, the first step is being certain you can afford one. Beyond adoption fees, there’s a monthly cost, medical expenses for veterinary care, training classes and more. Owning a dog means ongoing cost: you will also need to make sacrifices to handle yearly costs and some additional expenses (like emergency vet visits if your pooch eats the wrong thing). 

Initial cost to become a dog owner

Pet adoption costs are part of the initial costs. Many dogs come with a basic medical package included: spaying/neutering, vaccines, etc. However, there is a chance that any extra treatments will not be included for in the adoption fee. For example, the SPCA in Montreal includes:

  • Sterilization (spaying or neutering)
  • First set of vaccines, including rabies vaccine
  • Deworming treatment
  • 15-day health guarantee (a $20 fee applies to open a file if a medical consultation at the SPCA is required during this period)

The cost to adopt a dog in Montreal depends on the age of the dog: puppies cost more and older dogs less. If you adopt a dog from a breeder, you should know that age matters but breed as well. 

  • Puppy younger than eight months: $450
  • Dog eight months and older: $300
  • Compassionate adoption: $50-150, depending on the animal’s medical needs. Careful with these adoptions because they may require advanced surgery or extra medication. This is a humane option for the dog to spend the rest of their life with you. 

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), one-time costs for a dog include veterinary expenses we listed above but also, equipment like a crate, a food bowl and a collar. That is not the case for all shelters so do your research. For a dog, the average initial costs range from $470 to $1,550, depending on the size of the dog.

The cost we provide is a rough estimate. Make sure to double check with the proper organizations on top of this article as we do not get informed if costs go up

Buying from a reputable breeder

Initial costs are a lot higher if you get your pet from a breeder—especially if you’re looking for a rare breed or a specific coat color. We purchased our dapple Dachshund for $1000. My husband really wanted this specific type of dog. You can go for more affordable breeds or mixed breeds to lower the costs. I think mixed breeds do not get highlighted to their just value: often, dogs who are mixed tend to be healthier because they have less genetic issues some pure race dogs have. Having experienced  both, this is my honest opinion. A healthy dog means less vet visits. If you’re looking for a specific breed, make sure the purchase fee is included in your budget.

Others initial costs for would-be pet owners

  • private training
  • flea collar
  • premium dog food 
  • registration with the city

Annual cost estimates of owning a dog

According to a Lifehacker article, for a dog, the average annual cost will range from $737 to $1,040 in the United States, depending on the size of the animal. This is interesting because Rover says that food prices can go up to $1,200 per year in Canada…Bottom line is: research your budget in your local area. 

  • Food costs can range widely—anywhere from $450 to $1,200 per year—depending on the kibble brand and how much your dog eats. Source: Rover
  • The next biggest expense are medical: About $500 for dogs between heart worm prevention, the yearly veterinary exam, flea treatment. Source : our vet
  • Other costs include toys, treats, health insurance, and, for cats, litter.
  • Grooming : here is a table to give you an idea of costs we saw around town.
Dog SizePrice
Medium$40.99
Large$40.99
Extra Large$49.99

Unexpected costs can creep up easily, so again, you’ll want to have money set aside each year for emergencies.

Time is money: you need to account for your time in the budget

One of the biggest mistakes in pet ownership is not budgeting the necessary time needed to care your companion. Regular exercise needs to be budgeted for. It’s important for dogs, in particular, to get 1-2 hours of exercise each day. This may not be good if you travel a lot or if you can’t dedicate the time to a 30-minute walk a few times a day. These extra hours will also cut into your time for a side gig or part-time work, so be realistic about this or you will pay extra for doggie daycare costs, dog walkers and trainers to deal with behavioral issues that stem from your dog being bored and not getting enough exercise.

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