So, you’re thinking about adding a dog to the family? Congratulations! Having a dog is an amazing experience, but it is a financial commitment – and a permanent one at that. You will likely have the dog for around 10 years (dependent on the age and breed of the dog you are getting), so you need to consider monthly/yearly costs.
Having been around dogs pretty much our entire lives, it was still a slight shock when we added up the costs involved with dog ownership. We thought it would be one of the cheapest pets to keep!
What is the average cost of keeping a dog?
If, like many, you aren’t interested in the complete breakdown and only want an average yearly cost, here you go:
- Initial cost of buying or adopting a dog: £372
- The average cost of keeping a dog is £992
Our yearly cost is based on mid-range products and for a medium-sized dog. If you have a smaller breed the costs will be lower and if larger, costs will be higher.
Here’s a rough breakdown of our costs for Ella (The one curled up in the bottom right-hand corner in the above image). Hopefully, this can help you work out your own canine budget if considering adding a dog to your family*:
One off costs
- Initial purchase of dog/transportation – £300
- Food and water bowls – £15.99
- Collar – £5.69
- ID tag – £10
- Brush – £5
- Record overseas microchip on petlog database – £17
- Lead and harness – £9.99 and £8.99
- Veterinary costs – a consultation at local vets is £34
- Bedding – around £60 a year
- Toys – around £20 every 3 months
- Poop bags – £9.95 every 3 months
- Flea treatment – £14.69 every 3 months (comes in a pack of 3 – 1 each month)
- Worming treatments £5 every 3 months
- Dog sitter/walker – £10 a day (x 20 or so for the year)
- Dog Insurance – £10.80 a month
- Food – £30.64 a month
- Treats – £15 every month
- Nail trimmer – £8.99
- Dental care (toothbrush and paste) £8
- Dog shampoo – £4.50
- Ear cleaner – £14.65
*costs can vary greatly based on a wide variety of factors, from the size, age, and general health of the dog, to personal circumstances such as the need for a dog walker/dog sitter.
One off costs
How much to adopt a dog?
Adopt, don’t shop! Not only will you be giving a home to a dog in need, but it is also a lot cheaper to adopt a dog than it is to buy one. It costs between £50 – £300 to adopt a dog.
Dogs up for adoption tend to have had their vaccinations and neutering already done by the rescue centre (depending on their age), so that is one less cost to consider (sometimes the adoption fee covers some of this, but not always).
If you are adopting from abroad, costs may increase as you need to factor in transportation, vet costs, and paperwork to ensure the dog can travel. We adopted Ella from abroad and it cost us around £300 which was just the transport costs, the other fees involved (vet bills, boarding, etc.) were covered by the rescue organisation (All Spain Rescue Dogs – on Facebook).
As well as the traditional rescues, here are some other websites that can help you find a dog to adopt:
How much does it cost to buy a dog
Buying a dog will likely work out to be more expensive, especially if you want a specific breed. Costs can be anywhere from £300 – £2,000 depending on the breed/pedigree. You then need to factor in the costs of vaccinations, microchipping, and neutering.
Whether you buy or adopt a dog, you will need to ensure you get them an ID tag and that they are microchipped, or update their microchip with your details if they already have one.
Preparing for your dog
If you are anything like me, you are going to want to spoil your dog a bit before they even arrive. I got Ella a fancy bed (£60), loads of toys (£30), a nice food and water bowl with a non-spill tray (£15.99 – which I later found to be useless as she still manages to spill water everywhere), a lead, collar, harness, loads of treats, etc. etc. Some of these items you likely will not need to buy again, at least not for a couple of years (lead, food/water bowls, and collar).
How much are dog vet bills?
After initial check-ups/vaccinations/ neutering/ microchipping etc., you should only need to take your dog to the vets if they are in ill health or for a regular check-up (e.g. flea/worming). If you have a few veterinarian practices in your area, look around for the best prices, but also take into consideration what they offer and reviews of customers.
Our local dog vets charge £34 for a consultation. This does not include any treatment or medicine needed. Vets can be notoriously expensive, especially for emergency treatments or long-term medical conditions. The best advice is to get insurance!
You may need to buy bedding more frequently than once or twice a year depending on the material and whether your dog is house trained and/or destructive. If your dog is destructive, you should aim for bedding made from strong, quality materials that are sturdier and made to last.
A good dog bed doesn’t always have to be expensive, we recently got Ella a large dog bed for £12.99, which was on offer at Aldi!
Luckily, Ella isn’t particularly destructive, so her toys tend to last her a while. She does have a habit of burying/hiding them though, so we tend to buy her a few every couple of months. Saying that, if I see a toy I think she’ll like, I’m probably going to buy it even if she has some at home!
Dog toys aren’t particularly expensive, though the sturdier ones do tend to cost more (but will likely last longer, so may save you money in the long run). Also, if your dog is an intelligent breed, it is a good idea to get brain teasers/puzzles to keep them stimulated. A basic dog puzzle/brain teaser will set you back £10-£20.
Pretty essential! We like to get the Earth Rated biodegradable waste bags in bulk every few months – a pack of 18 rolls is £9.95 from amazon, or TK Maxx will sometimes sell them too.
Flea and worming treatments keep your dog healthy and happy. You can either go to the vets or you can do this yourself. We get a pack of Frontline spot-on flea treatments (£14.69) that lasts us 3 months (1 a month) and every 3 months we give her a worming treatment – we usually get Drontal.
Luckily, due to our work hours, we don’t often need a dog walker/sitter. We have on occasion asked my dad/mum to pop in when we know we are going to be back late. This is to ensure that Ella is fed on time, has some exercise/playtime, and some socialisation. We pay them £10 each time this happens, which covers the cost of their fuel. When we have gone on holiday, we have been lucky in that friends/family offer to house/dog sit for us for free.
How much does it cost to inusre a dog?
We used Compare The Market to find our pet insurance and went with Animal Friends due to the price and what was offered. We have an excess of £99, which means if we need to claim, we will pay the first £99, and the rest is covered by the insurance. We pay £10.80 a month for our dog’s insurance.
Our premium is a bit more than what we paid last year, as we had to make a claim in the summer of 2018 due to Ella needing emergency treatment (the total cost of treatment was £516.09, and we got back £417.09 – insurance is important!).
Is dog food expensive?
The cost of food will depend on the amount needed (larger breeds require more food), the brand (certain brands are more expensive), and the health requirements of the dog (e.g. if your dog is allergic to gluten, if they are a puppy if they are a working dog – these all require different types of food/nutrition). Bulk buying can save you money here, as can shopping around for the best deal.
We buy Ella a 12kg bag of dry Arden Grange dog food from amazon – it costs us around £29 and lasts us 3 months, and a 6-pack of Naturo Grain and Gluten-free (she has a sensitive stomach) wet food each week – which costs us around £5.25. We give a cup of dry food to her in the morning and a tin of Naturo wet food to her in the evening. This works out to £7.66 a week spent on dog food (not including treats!).
Cost of treats
The price of treats really depends on how many you get and the brand. When we first got Ella we got a lot of small puppy training treats – in an effort to train her whilst ensuring she doesn’t get too chubby! Now we get chews that take her a bit more time to work through.
The only advice for treats is, make sure you do some research as some ingredients found in a lot of popular brands/shops can be quite bad for them. Bigger treats that take them some time to eat will likely be more expensive, around £2-£5 each. Smaller, softer treats that come in a pack can be around £3-£8, though it depends on the brand. Bulk buying can work wonders for savings, but make sure your dog likes that treat first!
Other associated costs of keeping a dog
These are the things that you might use, but you can also go to the vets/ groomers. Ella has short fur, so we don’t take her to the groomers as we can take care of her grooming needs ourselves. We don’t wash her much as washing dogs too often will irritate her skin. We only use shampoo if she has rolled in excrement, is extremely muddy, or if she has jumped in a river (lots of harmful bugs/bacteria can be found in some rivers). If she’s just a bit muddy, we use a microfiber towel to get the mud off, and then brush her.
Not all dogs will sit still whilst having their nails clipped and if you are worried about cutting into the quick, it is best to get help. Your vet/ nurse will show you how to clip their nails if you would like to try it yourself. You can also get electronic nail filers, though some dogs will not tolerate the sound.
Dental care is just as important for dogs as it is for us. You can get toys/treats that also function as dental care but you should give them a brush every now and then yourself. If you don’t want to do this yourself, some groomers/vets may offer it as a service.
Ella has long ears which can be quite prone to infection, so we clean her ears out occasionally with a solution called Pro Pooch dog ear cleaner (£14.65 on amazon). If she does get an ear infection, we take her to the vet.
James Banerjee is a Senior Account Manager who graduated from the University of Kent in 2014. He works in SEO on clients such as HSBC UK and Nestle and he has a keen interest in personal finances and money-saving advice.