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Dog Adoption Budget and Ongoing Costs

Pets are a long-term commitment - in terms of love, attention, exercise, grooming, medical care, training, and much more. It probably doesn't come as a surprise that with this long-term commitment also comes a financial commitment! Before you adopt a pet take a look at the sample dog adoption budget below that details some of the .

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Prices have been left out, since they can vary widely depending on where you live. Take a trip to a local pet store and call a local vet to get estimates.

One-Time Costs

  • Adoption fee. Animal shelters, SPCAs, humane societies, and pet rescue organizations typically charge an adoption fee which may vary depending on the age of the pet. Puppies and kittens are the most popular and so their fee may be higher than that of adult or senior pets. Adoption fees help to cover the costs of caring for the pets in the shelter. Fees often cover things like the initial set of vaccinations, a health check, and spay/neuter surgery.

  • Leash and collar. May eventually need to be replaced, especially if you have a puppy that chews through them!

  • Food and water bowls.

  • Doggy bed. High-quality beds can last a long time. Memory foam dog beds are pretty popular for their durability and comfort.

  • Vaccinations. Puppies will require several sets of shots to protect them until their immune system is fully developed. Once they are adults, a vaccination schedule can be discussed with your vet. It used to be that adult pets routinely received annual vaccines; these days, many pets are now on a 3-year schedule or no longer receiving vaccines at all once they are adults. Traditional and holistic veterinarians may be at odds for how often pets need to be vaccinated.

  • Spay/neuter surgery. There are simply not enough homes for all of our homeless pets. Keep the pet population down by spaying or neutering your pet. This is often included in the adoption fee when you adopt a pet from a shelter.

  • Permanent identification. Have your pet tattooed and/or microchipped just in case he or she gets lost. Tattooing can be done at the same time as the spay/neuter surgery, and microchipping is a quick process done by injection. There are pros and cons to the different types of pet identification.

  • Brush/comb, nail clippers. Even if you intend to have your pet regularly groomed by a professional, these tools should be in your arsenal - you never know when they're going to be needed.

  • A kennel. Purchase a high-quality kennel. Kennels can be used for crate-training; to give your puppy a safe space for him to retreat to; and for travel.

Recurring Costs

  • Dog food. You can feed dry kibble, canned (moist) food, homemade cooked diets, or raw food diets (or any combination of these).

  • Treats. This can include dog cookies, dehydrated meats, and many other varieties. There's been multiple news reports of recalled dog treats; shop at a reputable pet supply store to purchase treats that are ideally sourced and made locally.

  • Toys. It's always good to have a toy or two lying around for your dog to play with. Toys will eventually wear out and need to be replaced, more often if your dog is an aggressive chewer.

  • Annual health exam. Every year once your dog has matured into an adult, he or she will need an annual exam to identify any potential issues. Bloodwork is a good idea too. Vaccinations may be included; although vets typically gave vaccines every year, this has become a controversial issue with some people choosing a 3-year vaccination schedule or other alternative.

  • Heartworm medication. If you live in an area where heartworm is a problem, your dog's vet can prescribe medication to prevent him from contracting it.

  • Flea or tick medication. Some areas are prone to ticks and fleas. Fleas aren't just a nuisance; a heavy flea infestation can lead to anemia and even be life-threatening! Dogs may need to be on a monthly medication throughout the flea and tick season. Your vet can tell you more.

  • Licensing fees. Check with your municipal authority to determine if you need to purchase a license for your dog. Most municipalities require you to renew your dog licenses every year. They also often offer lower rates for dogs that are spayed or neutered.

  • Boarding or pet-sitting costs. Call a few local kennels or pet-sitters to get an idea of what they charge per day. When you go on vacation or out-of-town for any other reason, you may need to board your dog. You can also take your dog on vacation with you, in which case you should take note of the pet fees that most hotels charge.

  • Grooming. Budget for regular trips to the vet or groomer for bathing, brushing, shaving, or nail clipping if you don't plan to do this yourself.

Other Costs

  • "Destroyed-by-the-puppy" expenses. If you have a puppy, it is practically inevitable that it will destroy something. This can range from shoes or sofa cushions, to carpets and walls!

  • Doggy daycare. Doggy daycares have grown in popularity as many owners prefer not to leave their pets at home alone all day while they are at work. Dogs have a chance to socialize with other dogs as well as expend excess energy.

  • Unforeseen medical expenses, including dental care. Like people, our pets can sometimes get sick or require dental care. And yes, sometimes it can be serious and require hospitalization or specialized treatment. If you are worried about these types of costs, you may want to look into purchasing pet insurance for peace of mind.

This budget worksheet gives some idea of the costs of adopting a dog. Each dog is an individual, though, and if at all possible, it's good to be prepared with an extra emergency fund for unexpected or ongoing veterinary costs.