How Much it Costs Anually to Have a Dog

Prices on grooming, veterinary bills, dog walkers, boarding, and food.
Can you afford a dog? Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.
Can you afford a dog? Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

From veterinary bills to grooming, there’s an expense for nearly every day of your
dog’s life. But just how much will it cost annually to take care of your four-legged
family member? After consulting with veterinarians, trainers, dog walkers, and boarding
facilities, we’ve come up with an approximate breakdown of a bill for a typical, healthy
dog. Not every dog—or owner—will need every service, but here are likely ranges.

Veterinary bills: $300 to $500, not including emergencies. Vets recommend that healthy dogs get checkups
once a year. During the visit, the doctor gives a thorough exam plus administers vaccines
for bordetella, also known as kennel cough, and canine distemper, a virus that can
cause neurological problems. Owners should also pick up heartworm and flea-and-tick
preventives to keep pets healthy between visits. A year’s supply of preventives costs
about $230, which is included in the amount above.

Tip: Puppy owners will spend more on vet bills early on because puppies need booster
shots, which cost $50 to $100 per visit, every three to four weeks until they’re 16
weeks old.

Grooming: $480 to $630, depending on breed and hair length. You can often handle routine bathing
and nail clipping for dogs at home, but particularly for breeds that don’t shed and
that have fuller coats, professional grooming costing $60 to $80 per visit is needed
every six to eight weeks.

Training: $150 for group classes, $675 for in-home lessons. Unfortunately, most dogs aren’t
born with good manners; basic obedience training can help. The programs offered around
Washington vary significantly in price.

Boarding: $400 to $1,190 for two weeks of vacation. Dogs can’t always go along on family trips.
Luckily, Washingtonians have many options for boarding pets across the area. Prices
usually range from $30 to $50 a night for basic accommodations, but you can pay as
much as $85 a night for luxury suites.

Dog walker: $2,808 to $3,120 for three walks per week for a year. Owners who are at the office
all day may need to hire someone to take their pets out for some midday activity.
Daily walks are even more important for city-dwelling dogs that don’t have a back
yard. Washington has many dog-walking services, with the cost per walk typically $18
to $20.

Food: $400. It’s best to consult your vet about the number of calories your dog should consume,
but a typical 40-pound adult dog eats two to three cups of food a day, meaning it
takes about a month and a half to go through 30 pounds of food. A 35-pound bag of
Hill’s Science Diet, a brand recommended by many vets, costs about $50.

Total: $4,538 to $6,615 a year.

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