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Budgeting for Dog Expenses
The ASPCA and Mint.com calculate annual and monthly pet costs

Dog lovers don't need a survey to tell us that we spend a lot of money on our pups. But exactly how big is our pet budget?

The ASPCA calculated basic annual expenses for a variety of pets (not including one-time purchases, like a crate or leash). According to their survey, the average medium dog incurs the following costs per year:

  • Food - $118
  • Recurring Medical - $236.30
  • Toys/Treats - $55.60
  • License - $13.90
  • Health Insurance - $222.40
  • Miscellaneous - $41.70

I don't buy pet health insurance, but I know that I can easily spend over $400 on medical bills for one of my dogs in a year. And I definitely spend more than $118 per dog on food. Let's not even get started about agility classes and trials!

Personal money management website, Mint.com, also looked at pet spending through their users. They found that the average person in the United States spends $112 per month on their pets (note that this number is for all pets in a given household). They also looked at variation by city. San Francisco spent the most money, $148 per month over the national average.

Obviously, there are many things that influence these numbers, but it's a good start to get people thinking about pet related expenses before they add a dog to the family.

How much do you estimate that you spend on each of your dogs in one year?

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Graphic by Mint.com.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | August 18 2011 |

That figure doesn't even come close to what I spend on my dogs! I mean, they get real cow bones to chew on ($150 - twice a year). My golden has had some many medical bills, I am sure I am putting my vets kids through college single handedly! As mentioned the dog training classes alone at $95/month comes to $1200 a year for ONE DOG! I have TWO! And who buys one leash and collar in a dogs life? I have bought tons of those, the seasons change, the collars get cutier, etc!

Submitted by FosterDogsNYC | August 18 2011 |

Great article!! Posted it on my site FosterDogsNYC: http://www.fosterdogsnyc.com/2011/08/budgeting-for-dog-ownership.html

Submitted by Broke in NJ | August 18 2011 |

Have two small dogs. Food, medical insurance, regular vet care, dentistry, and ongoing specialty eye care with meds amounted to over $4000.00 last year in NJ. When the old dog dies, he won't be replaced for financial reasons.

Submitted by Iowa Dog Blog | August 19 2011 |

Hmmm...I have not calculated the amount, but I know it's way more than that per dog. But our expenses include doggie daycare 2-4 times a month and probably more vet trips than most because I'm a worrier!

I definitely agree that people should think ahead when adopting a dog and budget for all of the necessary expenses. Good point!

Submitted by Branson's mom | August 20 2011 |

Wow, $118 a year for food, I spend more than that in a month. What are people feeding their dog?? I only feed my baby Orijen. I budget $300 a month, but that includes pet-sitting for when are away for long periods of time. Sometimes I spend more, but he is worth it all! http://www.nosaddlerequired.blogspot.com

Submitted by Branson's mom | August 20 2011 |

Wow, $118 a year for food, I spend more than that in a month. What are people feeding their dog?? I only feed my baby Orijen. I budget $300 a month, but that includes pet-sitting for when are away for long periods of time. Sometimes I spend more, but he is worth it all! http://www.nosaddlerequired.blogspot.com

Submitted by Allison Nastoff | August 20 2011 |

This was a great wake-up call for me. I am a college student living at home where my parents cover the expenses for my guide dog, so I never really paid attention to that. But I have been talking excitedly about getting a job and living on my own, while oblivious to how many expenses come with owning a dog.
The good news is that many vets, including the vet where I take Gilbert, will give service dogs free checkups, and his heartworm pills are donated to us. But since service dogs are supposed to eat higher quality food, his food might cost more than $118 a year. And one expense that wasn't mentioned was professional grooming which he gets every two months or so to keep him extra clean since he is out in public a lot more than the average pet. So thanks for the reality check!

Submitted by megan & caleb | August 22 2011 |

I budget $300 a month for the dogs and there are often months that we greatly exceed that number!

Submitted by Taryn | August 22 2011 |

I definitely think that is an extremely low estimate! Food at $118? I don't even think a year's worth of Walmart's crappy Ol'Roy kibble would be that cheap. That's about what I spend in one month for my two dogs! My dogs are still young so the medical is only a bit low for the cost of their annual check-ups (I live in a high cost of living area), but then I still have to buy heart worm medicine/flea/tick protection which isn't cheap. Also, I give joint supplements and fish oil which adds another (optional) expense.

I do alot of agility and a little bit of herding with my guys but that's optional so it really doesn't count as an expense of keeping dogs. It's more of a hobby expense for me.

Submitted by IndyDogLover | September 12 2011 |

Seems low to me as well. For my 90lb choc lab -- I spend $50/mo for a bag of food (Blue Buffalo), $40/mo for his vet wellcare package (all shots, unlimited visits, etc) and $40/mo for pet insurance. Big fan of both those packages; they have saved me a TON. Toys & random items would be in addition to that, but those are minor expenses. In the first year, had some one-time expenses such as create, travel crate, bowls, collars/leashes/tags (because I like variety, pretty sure my dog doesn't care), the furminator, etc. Oh, also training costs -- we go 2x a week for obedience & agility @ $300/yr. I think they also forgot things like dog park costs, etc. But he is worth evrey penny!!

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