Cost of a Dog, Itemized

My fiancé, Elizabeth, and I adopted a black lab mix puppy from the Lee County Humane Society in Auburn, AL in April 2017. His name is Bentley, and he’s a wonderful dog! He weighs about 65 pounds, and stays with me while I work from home. I wanted to know exactly how much he was costing us, so here’s the expenses for our dog broken down. This post is also an excuse to publish tons of dog pictures.


  • Purchase/Adoption - If you buy a dog from a breeder, costs can be in the multi-hundreds to the multi-thousands of dollars. We adopted our pup at the Humane Society, and the adoption fee was $120. He was already neutered, had his first few rounds of shots, and was already healthy enough to be taken home at 8 weeks. I’m not going to include this one time cost in my yearly dog expenses, but it’s something to consider with a dog.


  • Training - We did a Beginning Puppy Training at PetCo, it was a little over $100. This class was really more about us (the humans) learning how to train our dog. Now that we have taken it, I think we’d do a good job at training any other dogs we adopt without paying for a class. This was also a one time expense, so I won’t count it towards yearly expenses. I highly recommend taking a class like this with your first dog so that you can learn how to train them.


  • Food - We buy a bag of dog food about every 5 weeks, about 10 bags per year. We buy Hills Science Diet for Sensitive Stomachs, highly recommended by every vet Elizabeth has ever worked for. Each bag costs about $50. We also give him lots of veggies, peanut butter, and table scraps, but they aren’t just for him. He gets all of the broccoli stalks and lots of baby carrots, those costs are more associated with us humans though, so counting those here.


  • BarkBox - We use BarkBox to get new toys and treats, but mostly to keep up out of the Pet Store. We’re pretty bad about impulse buying all kinds of treats and bones when we’re in there. BarkBox costs $20/month, and has been very worth it for us so far. It usually has 2 toys, 2 bags of treats, and a bone, which would cost well over $20 at PetCo.


  • Probiotic Powder - Bentley farts a lot. We give him 1 probiotic powder pack at breakfast to reduce that as much as possible, this is about $1 per day.


  • Medicine - Here’s where we have gotten lucky so far. My fiancé, Elizabeth, works for a veterinarian’s office. So far, we have received all of Bentley’s medicine for free! This saves us about $200 per year, so if your fiancé doesn’t work for a vet, don’t forget to consider for this cost.


  • Vet Visits - Required shots, yearly checkups, etc. Bentley has had issues with his stomach, so we’ve had a few costly vet visits already. It does help that Elizabeth gets all vet services for half price because of her job, so we’ve spent about $400 per year so far on this. It’d be more than double if we didn’t have that benefit.


  • Dog Sitting - I stay at home with Bentley most days, and if I’m out of town then my fiancé or our roommates usually feed him, take him outside to use the bathroom, etc. The exception is long holidays when everyone goes out of town, like Thanksgiving or Christmas. We paid our neighbor $100 last year to watch Bentley for a few days over Christmas, and Elizabeth stayed in town on Thanksgiving. This year we’ll probably both be gone both holidays, so maybe $200 for dog sitting those two holidays. We’ve used Rover to watch other dogs before, and will likely look to utilize it again over the holidays.


  • Other - I say we have the BarkBox to keep up out of the pet store, but we still go too much. I’d say on average, we spend $20/month on more toys, leashes, collars, harnesses, dog bowls, treats, bones, a cage, dog bed, etc. We bought most of this stuff when we first got Bentley, but we still buy him new collars, more bones, and harnesses and leashes if the old ones get worn out.


Total = Food + BarkBox + Probiotic Powder + Medicine + Vet Visits + Dog Sitting + Etc

Total = (10 bags * $50) + (12 months * $20/month) + (365 days * $1/day) + $0 + ($400/yr) + ($200/year)+ (12 months * $20/month)

Total per Year = ($500) + ($240) + ($365) + ($0) + ($400) + ($200) + ($240)

Total = $1,945


There you go, about $2,000 per year for our full size Labrador, or $5.50 per day. So worth it. This does not factor in some large upfront costs, like adoption fees, puppy training, or some things you’ll need for your first dog, like harnesses, leashes, crates, dog beds, which will likely add up to over $500. Getting a dog is a big financial decision, but can be even more expensive if you have to take your dog to day care or don’t have access to benefits of a vet office.

Written on June 25, 2018

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