How Much Does It REALLY Cost To Be A Dog Owner?


Dog and onwer


Kelly Poulson
Kelly Poulson51
Coach. Career Navigator. Ass Kicker. Dog mom.
April 14, 2024 at 11:13PM UTC
If you know someone who owns a dog (and let’s be honest, you do), you might hear them talk about how pricey it can be. I won’t lie. It can be pricey, but owning a dog is one of those life situations where the benefits outweigh the costs time and time again.
There’s plenty of research to prove it. Dogs have been known to decrease stress and improve self-esteem, along with the several other wonderful benefits they bring to their humans. Things like happiness, health and safety are priceless.
However, owning a dog is not without its costs nor is it something to jump into. Dog ownership requires thought and planning before you take the leap. Let’s walk through some of what you might be spending on little Fido as you start to ponder pet ownership.
Breeder/Adoption fees. To bring home a happy and healthy dog, there’s some upfront investment. Depending on what you’re looking for it could vary vastly. You could adopt and spend a minimal amount (less than $200) to bring home a mixed breed looking for a new family or you could go to a top breeder and spend thousands. It really depends on you and your preference (though I’m an “adopt don’t shop” person myself).
Vet bills. Neutering, vaccinations, medications. Just like with humans, you don’t know what you’re going to get. You can do all of the research on breeds, age, etc. and still end up having expensive medical bills. It doesn't mater if dogs get into trouble or are amazingly calm and well-behaved, they can still have medical costs! In today’s world, you’ve got the option of choosing pet insurance or going without it. Do your research on what feels best for you but keep in mind that, like with humans, sometimes insurance doesn’t cover everything or has exclusions that you’re not going to see coming. Not shockingly, vet bills tend to be the biggest expense of any pet owner.
Grooming. Like with humans (are you noticing a theme here?) you can go with high-end grooming services that cost you a pretty penny or much less expensive options. As the owner, you can certainly find ways to contain costs while still safely taking care of your canine. Brushing your dog's coat and teeth, grinding down nails and giving baths are all things you could handle at home if you feel comfortable.
Dog walking and daycare. Are you or your family able to take care and walk your dog enough times a day to keep your pooch happy? If so, cool. This might not be something you need to invest in. Many of us, however, work longer hours and want to make certain our furry friends are getting out during the day. Similar to grooming options, there are doggie daycares, camps and pools where they can party with pals, go on hikes and live it up. There are also plenty of great neighborhood options, like dog walking businesses or friends who could offer these services at a lesser cost while still keeping your pup pleased.
Training. Most people don’t want an unruly pet running around their homes wreaking havoc. That is where training comes in. There are schools specifically dedicated to training, individual trainers who come to your home, books, online tutorials and more; there are plenty of training options so you can find what works best for you. The most important part of training is that you are being consistent and following through. Don’t sink money into training if you’re not committed to doing the work along with your pal.
Supplies. Toys, bowls, leashes, food... your pets require gear. Now, for the most part, you’re not constantly investing on this front but it should be a factor as you consider bringing a dog into your home.
Take your time to think it through and do the legwork before you take the leap to dog ownership. When you're ready to dig into specifics, both Petfinder and The Huffington Post are good resources. Keep in mind that this is an investment that has pros and cons just like any other. I may be slightly biased (single lady sans kiddos here) but owning a dog is also the best experience in the world.
Being a dog mom is wonderful. There is nothing that brings me more joy than my dog. Here’s hoping you go for it and feel the same. And if you do, here are some cool apps to get you started.
Kelly is a human resources pro and coach who helps people find and achieve what they want career-wise and beyond. Coaching, training, recruiting – if you name it in the world of HR, she's done it in a variety of industries. Her advice has been featured on The Muse, Career Contessa, Levo, Workology, among others. Learn more by scoping her out at

Why women love us:

  • Daily articles on career topics
  • Jobs at companies dedicated to hiring more women
  • Advice and support from an authentic community
  • Events that help you level up in your career
  • Free membership, always