How much does it cost to keep a dog?


Bringing a dog into your family is a big commitment; it is important to consider whether they will fit into your lifestyle and how they will impact your finances. The cost of dog ownership is dependent on the size of the dog, the breed, their life expectancy. Also whether they develop any health problems. It is important to take into account the costs involved to ensure you can afford to care for a dog throughout their life. 

On average, a dog costs between £60-£120 per month, that’s £9,000-£18,500 over their lifetime! Dogs that require the services of dog walkers or those that develop chronic health problems can push these costs even higher. Therefore it is important to properly assess whether you can afford to welcome a furry companion into the household. 

Buying a dog

If you are thinking of buying a dog, pay a visit to your local rehoming centre; there are a wide range of dog breeds looking for homes. The centre can help to match you with your perfect companion. Rehoming centres usually charge a small fee which covers the cost of the dog’s initial vaccinations, parasite control and veterinary health check.

If you are looking to buy a puppy, it is important to look for a reputable breeder. This ensures you will be bringing home a healthy well-adjusted puppy and one that has been responsibly bred. Finding a breeder that is a member of the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme or via a breed society is one way to do this. The pedigree of the dog will affect the cost of buying a puppy, with purebred dogs generally costing more than mixed breed dogs.

Essential items

As soon as you get a dog, there are some essential items that will be needed. Many of these will need replacing during the dog’s lifetime. They will require a lead, harness, collar and tag, food and water bowls, poo bags, a bed, a toothbrush and toothpaste, toys, treats, a car restraint and a crate. The cost of these items can range from £200-£500. 

Food

We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and the same is true for our pets. A high-quality complete diet will help to keep your dog healthy and their coat in top condition. On average, dog food will cost around £25 per month. However the cost of food varies greatly according to the brand of dog food and the size of the dog which you are feeding. 

Vet Bills

Veterinary bills will fall into two categories; expected costs (vaccinations, neutering, preventative treatments) and unexpected costs (emergency treatments and health complaints).

To keep your dog healthy, you will need to make sure they are vaccinated and health checked at least one a year. Initial puppy vaccinations cost approximately £100 and ongoing, a yearly health check and booster vaccination will cost about £50. In addition, to prevent your dog becoming infested with fleas, ticks or worms, they will require monthly veterinary approved anti-parasitic treatments. This can cost approximately £7-10 a month depending on the size of the dog.  

Veterinary bills will vary depending on the geographical location of the clinic and the expertise of the vet. Specialist vets such as cardiologists and neurologists will have higher veterinary fees than general practitioner vets. Unfortunately, it is difficult to predict non-routine veterinary treatment costs; some dogs may require emergency investigations and surgery, whilst others may develop conditions that require lifelong medications and repeated examinations. To help manage these unexpected costs, we strongly advise pet insurance. 

Insurance

To ensure you can afford emergency treatments and the expenses associated with an ill dog, we recommend pet insurance. The cost of insurance will vary according to the breed of dog; mixed breed dogs usually have fewer genetic problems than pedigree dogs and are therefore cheaper to insure. As dogs get older, the monthly pet insurance fees will progressively increase.

There are various types of insurance policies available, ranging from accident only insurance policies (the cheapest option), through to comprehensive life time insurance cover. Every insurance policy has policy exclusions and an excess that needs to be paid by the owner. It is important you carefully read the terms and conditions so you aren’t caught out. The average lifetime insurance policy for a dog is around £475 a year, but this varies according to the breed of dog.

Grooming

The frequency with which professional grooming is required will depend on the dog. For example, Poodles will require grooming every 4-6 weeks, whilst a Labrador might only need to go once every 12 weeks. The cost of grooming will depend on the size and breed of the dog, but is usually between £40-70 per session.

Training

In order to have a well-rounded obedient dog, it is vital that they receive training. The cost of puppy training classes will depend on whether they are group or individual classes – group classes can be around £10-20 per hour and individual classes £30-50 per hour. For adult dogs with problem behaviours, the cost of training can be a lot more.

Dog walkers 

For many of us, the best part of having a dog is being able to take them on walks, however, often life and work can get in the way and sometimes we need to employ a professional dog walker to take on the job for us. Depending on where you live, a dog walker will usually ask for between £10-20 per hour. Over time, the cost can quickly add up; even if you only employ a dog walker for a one hour walk 4 days of the week, this could add up to a staggering £4,160 a year!

Pet sitting services/kennels

If you are going on holiday or travelling abroad, you may not be able to take your dog with you. In these circumstances, your dog will either have to go into boarding kennels. Alternatively you will need to employ a pet sitter to look after them. You are looking at a good boarding kennel charging around £17 a day and a live-in pet sitter is usually more expensive, starting at around £25 per day. 

As you can see, owning a dog isn’t cheap and you need to seriously consider whether you can afford to bring one into your family. Once you take on a dog, you are taking them on for life. You need to be prepared to pay for all the costs associated with their care and their medical bills. 

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