How much does it cost to own a puppy? It’s a good question to ask if you’re on a budget but want to bring a dog into your family. In this post, I give a full cost breakdown of the expected and unexpected expenses of puppy ownership so you can be prepared.
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How Much Does it Cost to Own a Puppy?
8 Expected and Unexpected Expenses (with cost breakdowns)
Everyone loves puppies.
(If you don’t, there may be something wrong with you and you should probably get that checked out).
They’re cute, furry, fluffy balls of joy. They’re proven to lower your blood pressure and reduce stress. They love you unconditionally if you take good care of them.
But: they’re expensive as hell. Even when you’re financially prepared. Seriously, yo. So…
How much does it cost to own a puppy?
This is one of my longer posts, but now that my pup is 6 months old, I wanted to take some time to share the lessons I learned about the cost of bringing a puppy into your life.
If you’re contemplating getting a puppy, hopefully this info will help you better prepare for the financial responsibilities (some of them unexpected!) of puppy ownership.
My Fur Baby
My fiance and I have wanted a dog for years. We both grew up with dogs, and we’re dog people. But our walk-up apartment just wasn’t conducive to owning a large dog. So we waited until we bought a house, and deliberately chose a house with a big yard.
After waiting excitedly for months on a breeder’s list, we brought our little furry cutie home in June. That’s her in the photo above. <3
(Cue the ‘awwwwww’!s)
I know. She’s adorable. And SO sweet. We love her to pieces.
However… she’s expensive. Ohhhh my gaaaawwwddd!
I like to consider myself a pretty financially responsible gal, so I did my research ahead of time, and spoke with other friends and family who have dogs to find out approximately how much they spend on their dog each month for food/supplies, yearly checkups and vaccines, etc. Back in January I started a savings account for our pooch so I wouldn’t have to panic when the time came to fork over money for her first vet visits.
But even with advance financial planning, our puppy has thrown us a few curve balls and expenses we didn’t anticipate. Below I’ll outline the 8 primary expenses (both expected and unexpected) we encountered in the first 6 months of puppy ownership:
1) Your pooch
Of course, buying your puppy to begin with will cost quite a bit of money, especially if you’re purchasing a purebred. From a responsible, professional breeder, puppies will cost anywhere from $500-$2500, depending on the breed and other factors. Adopted puppies will usually be cheaper (sometimes the fee is just the cost of the spaying/neutering).
2) Your pooch’s stuff
When you first bring a puppy home you obviously need to have some basic supplies ready to go! I’ve included some links to the products we’ve used and love for our puppy:
-a crate (we got ours for free second-hand, but they generally run you about $100 new)
–soft, chew-resistant blanket ($20)
-food ($40/month for a pup)
–water and food bowls ($15-20)
–chew toys and sturdy stuffies ($75, plus some gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. Dog toys are stupidly expensive)
-dog bed ($35 at Costco, but can run $100+ elsewhere)
-poop bags ($10+/box of 120, and you go through them faaaaast. So. Much. Poop. The bulk size is hard to find in stores sometimes but you can get it via Amazon here)
-training treats ($15-25 a pkg). I highly recommend these liver bits. Our dog LOVED them so she learned really fast!
–leash ($25-30 for a strong retractable)
-brush ($10) – I love this one from the Kong brand. The design means you never have to scrape the fur out of the brush, and it works amazingly well on furniture and carpets too!
-anti-chew spray ($15… and our dog LIKED it. But we were successful with hot sauce instead)
–carpet cleaner/deodorizer ($10-20/bottle, and you may need more than one)
–car safety harness, puppy-sized ($20-25). We love the Pawaboo brand one, and they come in all kinds of cute patterns (see link)
–seat cover for car ($25-35)
–baby gate ($50)
–nail clipper ($10-20)
-puppy shampoo ($12) – I love love LOVE the Burt’s Bees puppy shampoo! No scary chemicals and very easy on your puppy’s sensitive skin.
That total for our puppy’s ‘startup costs’ comes out to a cool $522. And that’s just the basics, ladies! There are all KINDS of additional fun and cute accessories you can get for your pooch.
If you can find some of it second-hand, that’s awesomesauce. Be sure to check out kijiji, eBay, swap and sell groups and garage sales for high-ticket items like crates and baby gates. They take up a lot of space so once people are done with them, they’re often trying to sell them or even give them away just to get them out of storage.
(Get your vet’s opinion, but if you buy items like bowls, toys, or collars second-hand, I would strongly suggest you sanitize them thoroughly before using them with your pup.)
3) Unexpected vet bills right out of the gate (surprise!)
Puppies explore their world by eating and chewing everything in sight. Our particular pup is a retriever, so she’s also The Ultimate Canine Vaccuum Cleaner and eats everything in her path during walks and outdoor play time (like, superhero-level suction). Despite our diligence of picking sticks, stones and dead birds (that was fun!) out of her slobbery mouth and teaching her the ‘leave it’ command, she picked up a stomach parasite a couple of weeks after we brought her home. Hurraaaaayyyyy!
Not. NOT HURRAY. NO HURRAYS!!!
We were assured by our vet that parasites are super common in puppies because they eat everything and their immune systems aren’t strong yet. So we’re certainly not alone in this, and apparently it happens to a LOT of new puppy owners. So beware!
This particular parasite is also super difficult to get rid of. It might even survive a nuclear winter. EFF this EFFING parasite.
So, as a result, she had more trips to the vet, more stool sample testing, more meds than we originally anticipated for her first few months. Vet bills cost me about $400 in just a few weeks. Yuppers.
4) Supplies for healthcare issues
This particular parasite can transfer to humans (even more hurray!), its cysts can’t be seen with the naked eye, and it’s goddamn persistent. It’s almost as bad as a kid bringing head lice home. If you’re really serious about getting rid of it, the treatment involves:
-medication for 5 days, off for 5 days, meds for 5 days (it often requires more than one round of meds. We needed two rounds)
-bathing your dog on very specific days during the meds regimen (washing a canine anus is now something I do in my life. That’s a Thing now. Mhm.)
-bleach mopping every hard surface of your house every 3 days (for us this meant almost every room, since we don’t have wall-to-wall carpets)
-steam cleaning any carpets you do have
-washing your dog’s blankets, bed cover and toys in hot water and running them through the dryer….Every. Damn. Day.
-running your dog’s dishes through the dishwasher on ‘sanitize’ mode, daily
-washing your own clothes in hot water and running them through the dryer instead of line drying
-wiping your dog’s paws and bum with baby wipes every time she comes in from outside
-taking her outside with a leash every time she needs to pee to supervise what she’s trying to eat
-cordoning off a ‘poop coop’ in the yard to isolate her poop, and spraying the grass with bleach water afterward. Every time.
-wiping down your dog’s crate with bleach water every 3 days
So our house constantly smelled like a pool from all the bleach, and we were spending additional money on:
-dog shampoo, because we went through it so fast
-baby wipes (thank you Costco!)
-yogurt to mix the meds into her food
-chicken wire, zip ties, staples and stakes to make the poop coop
-a gentle leader head harness to try to keep her from eating everything in her path during walks (she was NOT happy about this)
It’ll be difficult to finalize these costs until our hydro bill comes in, but with all the supplies totaled, it’s definitely over $200.
So at a conservative estimate, I spent about $600 to get rid of this parasite. Oy. There goes my Christmas budget.
5) Sleep deprivation
This isn’t entirely a financial cost, but it certainly took its toll on our work and school performance, since our brains were only functioning at half capacity and we mostly just felt like someone had punctured us and let all the air out. I knew puppies would be a lot of work, but I didn’t actually anticipate I would be THAT exhausted. It’s *almost* like having a newborn baby.
If you work shift work, beware that the sleep deprivation could actually cause you to miss a shift or two during your puppy’s first few months. I am fortunate that I have a very understanding boss who allows reasonable flex time, but not everyone is in a position to take the morning off work if they’ve just had a meltdown from only getting 1 hour of interrupted sleep for 3 nights in a row. Food for thought.
Puppies cry and bark at night for different reasons over the course of their puppyhood. Our puppy was actually not too bad with the crying when we first brought her home, but at about 4 months, she became a bit of a stubborn teenager and liked to decide when SHE was done with being in her crate, thankyouverymuch. We were waking up at around 3am when she wanted out of her crate. She didn’t need to pee or anything, she just wanted her bed instead of her crate. At 6 months (and done teething!) she’s doing much better, but I’ve definitely lost sleep trying to keep my ears pricked for sounds of destruction at 4am…
And speaking of destruction…
6) Damage to your sh*t
Puppies chew chew chew chew chew. And then they chew some more. They also scratch at closed doors, and pee and sometimes barf on things.
Our puppy hasn’t been too bad because we have been really diligent with deterrents like hot sauce, a squirt bottle, and constant corrections to her chew toys. But it’s an exhausting process and you have to be consistent.
However, we’re already seeing damage to our hallway doors, kitchen cupboard handles, significant chew marks on baseboards, and fraying edges of rugs.
You’ll likely end up having to replace a few things as a result of your puppy’s teething process.
7) Just like little kids, they grow out of things FAST
Here’s a list of some items you’ll need to replace once your pup is full-grown:
-collar ($15+ for adult size)
–larger bowls ($15)
-adult-sized Kong and/or other chew toys ($12+)
-crate, if you bought a puppy-sized one ($100+)
-gentle leader harness, adult size ($20)
-car safety harness, adult size ($30)
-additional monthly expenses as you increase your dog’s food intake ($50+.month)
So around month 6 or 7, you’re likely shelling out another $100-$200 to replace your puppy-sized supplies. However, try to sell your puppy stuff on kijiji, eBay, Craigslist, or at a garage sale. Because some of these things aren’t used for long and don’t get destroyed – like the crate, baby gate, harness, and bowls – people are happy to pick them up second-hand for cheaper.
Once her legs were long enough to climb our stairs, we also had to buy $70 worth of carpet stair treads and carpet tape to secure them. Our current stairs are a very slippery cheap laminate that would be super dangerous for our puppy.
8) Spaying/Neutering, and Licensing
Listen to Bob Barker. Have your pup spayed or neutered. Period. And YUP! That’ll run you about $300-600, so be prepared. Depending on your local by-laws, you may also need to get a dog license for your pooch, which usually costs about $25-75.
Now, with allllll of that said, we love my fur baby to bits, we can’t imagine life without her and we are SO happy she’s part of our family. However, I am also really looking forward to her being a full grown dog that hopefully isn’t costing me quiiiiiite as much money on a regular basis.
I’ll still keep up a strong savings account for her healthcare, and I would highly recommend you do the same (or get puppy insurance). But if we can keep her parasite-free, we’ll definitely be ahead of the game. 😉
Have you ever adopted a puppy into your family? What unexpected expenses did you incur? How much do you set aside each month for pet care? I’d love to hear your experiences (or sympathize with your rants!) in the comments.
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