Financial Considerations for Adopting a Dog
February 24, 2021 | Sarah J. Zink | Bright Investments, LLC

How will monthly expenses of owning a dog affect your budget?

Assuming your dog is healthy, monthly expenses should be fairly routine, including food, preventatives (like heartworm prevention, flea/tick treatments) and occasional toys, chews, shampoo, dog bed and other incidentals. The cost of food will vary depending on the size of the animal and quality of food/items purchased.  For a 50lb dog, it would be safe to assume that you will need to budget a minimum of $100/month for routine expenses.  If the dog becomes sick or injured, the cost of veterinary bills can easily skyrocket.  ER visits average $1000/day.  Pet insurance is available and is definitely worth considering, especially when the animal is young, since the premiums are very affordable. If you travel the cost to board your dog or have a pet sitter stay with your dog can range from $25 to $75 a day, again depending on the size of the dog and quality of care selected.

Can you realistically and responsibly afford to adopt and own a dog?

Adopting a dog comes with many responsibilities that a person may underestimate, particularly with regard to cost.  Dogs need annual vetting, which can range from $200 to $800 depending on services required (annual shots, blood tests, dental work, etc.).  Like humans, as a dog ages, issues surface and costs rise.  Some breeds are predisposed to certain health issues, which can be costly.  Many large breed dogs suffer from hip dysplasia and treatment can easily cost $4,000 per hip. Dogs of all sizes ma experience CCL (ligament) tears, with corrective surgery starting at $2500 per knee.  Beyond health, rescue dogs often come with various issues and express anxiety through destructive behavior, such as tearing up household items and even damaging doors and walls, or tearing up carpet, in extreme cases.  Hiring a behaviorist or trainer can be quite expensive ($50+/session), though often effective.  Puppies are also known to chew expensive leather shoes, chair legs, curtains, rugs, and anything they can find, while teething.  Some dogs never seem to outgrow destructive chewing behavior!

Is it necessary to set aside a pet emergency fund of X?  Definitely.  Many families unprepared for a medical pet emergency borrow money or get credit to pay for costly bills.  When the dog is part of the family, most will do whatever is needed, even going into debt, to save a beloved pet.  So, having $2,000 or more earmarked for the furry family member is highly recommended.

What are some costs to consider before adopting?

  • Adoption fees can range from $50 to $1000 depending on the breed of dog, age and rescue/adoption agency.
  • Ongoing routine costs include: food, supplies, monthly medicines and annual vet visits.
  • Additional expenses may include: dog training, unanticipated medical expenses, and replacing damaged items.



Figure 1 Weston, adopted, enjoying a wintery day.

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