Dogs often make the perfect companions. Many of us consider our dogs family, and we’ll do whatever it takes to get the best care for our beloved pups. The average new dog owner pays around $1,750 in ownership expenses, and some residents will pay nearly $3,000 per year. We’ve divided average dog ownership costs by food, pet insurance, vet visits, vaccines, and neutering/spaying for each state. Read more for details and what to expect with costs for your dog.
- On average, Delaware residents pay $2,864 in dog ownership costs–the highest in the United States.
- Residents in Idaho, the cheapest state for dog owners, typically pay $1,232 in dog ownership costs.
- Vet visits in New York typically cost $77 per year, the highest in the United States, while Arkansas residents usually pay $51.
- Dog food in Delaware costs over $200 more per year than in Massachusetts, the second most expensive state.
What is the cost of Owning a Dog?
If you are considering adding a furry member to your family this year, you should consider various factors, including the cost, before signing the adoption papers. Finding out how much it costs to become a pet parent can greatly affect your decision on the breed that’s right for you. Regardless of breed, you are exposed to upfront costs such as pet licenses, adoption fees, microchips, neuter surgery, basic veterinary care, food, insurance, and vaccines. Among them are annual essentials and some are optional extras.
Many people forget to identify and list the new dog supplies as part of the fixed and recurrent costs. Basic supplies include:
- poop bags
- food and water bowls
- grooming accessories like combs
- shampoos, conditioners, and in some cases lotions or balms
- petsitters and dog walkers.
Regardless of the state or dog breed, most of these costs are standard and mandatory.
What is the Cost of Dog Food and Treats?
Dog food comes in multiple varieties and, like human food, can range in quality and ingredients. Dogs can eat wet or dry food, and some brands even have refrigerated fresh meals. The most appropriate food for your dog will vary based on breed, activity, and health. Food costs depend on the brand and where it’s bought–such as through a subscription service, delivery, or from a store. On average, Americans pay $581 per year for dog food. Premium dry dog food typically costs more per pound than traditional kibble, and it may cost substantially more in smaller states with a smaller local inventory.
Feeding your dog high-quality food, and healthy treats help manage its body and emotional health. Note that if your dog is on a special diet, such as a veterinary therapeutic diet, you will incur more than $100 per month. It is advisable to give your dog treats as a reward for good behavior and during training. Choose appropriate treats to keep your dog healthy and happy. Dog treats come in different varieties, including crunchy treats, soft treats, dental chews, freeze-dried, animal bones and hooves, rawhide, pig ears, and human food treats.
Generally, you should consult a veterinarian and discuss your dog’s nutritional requirements to determine the best dog food. If your dog has a health condition, specialized food brands may cost more because of the premium ingredients, but some dogs may only need standard kibble to meet their nutritional requirements.
Cost of Pet Insurance and Emergencies
Vet visits can get expensive, and pet insurance gives dog owners peace of mind and can save them money. In the United States, pet owners pay between $407-$735 per year for pet insurance, and like other insurance plans, the costs will vary depending on what the plan covers. Typically, pet insurance plans can cover:
- Accidents and injuries
- Chronic or common illnesses
- Serious illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
- Hereditary conditions such as hip dysplasia, eye disorders, and blood disorders
- Testing and diagnostics
- Procedures such as surgeries, hospitalizations, nursing care, endoscopies, and chemotherapy
- Holistic and alternative procedures such as acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy
- Vaccinations, flea/heartworm, and spay/neuter operations
- Behavioral therapy for problems such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, and aggression
Some plans may insure all of these examples, or you may opt only to cover a selection of services. In addition, pet insurance does not cover pre-existing conditions, grooming, food, dietary supplements, or other treatments considered non-veterinary. Nonetheless, pet insurance can potentially help with long-term vet expenses, and it may comfort owners who want to prepare for accidents or unforeseen emergencies. The future is unpredictable, and an unexpected emergency may occur at any point in life. A pet’s chronic illness, emergency, disaster, or other unplanned expense may cost thousands of dollars. An emergency vet hospital costs between $500 to $5,000 and could be more if the dog undergoes specialized treatment or surgery. Avoid such expenses by acquiring pet insurance to cover accidents, injuries, surgeries, chronic illnesses, hereditary conditions, behavioral therapy, allergies, and holistic procedures. In other cases, sometimes we need our pet for emotional support. Pettable makes it easy to connect with a licensed professional who can write an ESA letter. See if you qualify in just a few steps.
Cost of Vet Visits and Routine Pet Healthcare
Routine visits to the vet for wellness check-ups and preventative care happen once or twice a year for healthy dogs. A single trip to the vet may also cost less than $100, while the average vet costs are between $200 and $800 annually and could rise to $3,000 depending on health challenges considering the service, breed, and urgency. Your dog requires dental cleanings once or twice a year, and if your dog has a painful diseased tooth, it may require specialized treatment or extraction. The vet costs are higher if your dog suffers from a health problem, which may often happen as your dog grows older.
Vet visits at an after-hours animal hospital will typically charge higher rates for services, especially for complex operations like emergency surgeries or if your pup gets a hold of too much chocolate. However, routine yearly check-ups typically cost under $100 without pet insurance. Under the guidelines for responsible pet ownership, pets deserve preventive and therapeutic health care from their owners. Routine vet visits typically won’t break the bank, and they can help identify health issues that your pet doesn’t show.
Additional vet or pet care visits may include services like grooming, teeth cleanings, and heartworm and fecal tests. For most breeds, these other visits cost around $25-$75 each, and some dogs may need routine services throughout the year.
Cost of Vaccines
Dog owners can expect to pay $175-$228 for pet vaccines, and vets may recommend:
- Bordetella - an optional vaccine given to dogs frequently exposed to other dogs (many daycares or kennel facilities require bordetella)
- DAPP - a recommended vaccine given to puppies for distemper, adenovirus [hepatitis], parainfluenza, and parvovirus
- Bivalent Influenza - an optional vaccine that can protect against kennel cough or the flu virus
- Leptospirosis - an optional vaccine that can protect against bacterial infections which can cause the disease leptospirosis
- Lyme Disease - an optional vaccine that can protect against infections caused by ticks.
- Rabies - a required vaccine that can protect against infected animal bites
Most of these vaccines are administered during the puppy phase, but DAPP and rabies usually require additional doses throughout your dog’s life.
Cost of Neutering or Spraying
Typically, it costs Americans between $265-$460 to spay/neuter their dogs. Not all pet owners may decide to spay/neuter, and there are a few reasons why it makes sense to leave your dog intact. For example, a dog breeder may choose to spay/neuter a few years into the dog’s life, or some owners may have concerns over the lasting health effects. However, most pet owners decide to spay/neuter, and most kennels and daycares only accept spayed/neutered dogs to prevent accidental puppy litters.
For specific concerns with spaying or neutering, it’s best to speak with a vet. Some dog breeds may have risks with the procedure, or it’s possible to delay it until later in the dog’s life.
Cost Breakdown by State
We compiled and analyzed various data sets concerning the cost of dog ownership in each state. The sources we looked at are:
- Pawlicy Advisor: Average Pet Insurance Cost in 2021 by Breed, Age, & State
- Banfield Pet Hospital: Price Estimator
- We looked at the cost of vet visits and vaccines for the most populated zipcode in each state, according to 24/7 Wall St.
- We combined the cost of individual vaccines to get a total vaccine cost. The vaccines we looked at were:
- Bivalent Influenza
- Lyme Disease
- For states where the price estimator had no information, we substituted the costs with the average from all other states combined. The states where no information was found are:
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- Pick Pet Vacuum: Here’s How Much Pet Owners Spend On Pet Foods In Each US State
- We multiplied the monthly cost of food by 12 to get the yearly average cost
How Toys Affect Your Pet Acquisition Budget
Dog toys are an important part of a dog's life for mental stimulation and exercise. As a pet parent you could spend between $25 and $150 per year on dog toys, depending on how often you replace them and the kind of toys you purchase. You may spend even more on toys if your dog is destructive, and you have to buy toys for tough chewers. Electronic toys may have a higher price tag, but they stimulate the dog during the day when you are working.
What are the Grooming Costs?
Grooming is a cost you will want to keep in mind. The grooming needs of any dog depend on the type of hair coat he dons. Short-haired and smooth-coated dogs require a little more than basic grooming, while dogs with constantly growing hair need to visit a groomer on a routine basis. Plan to spend between $30 and $500 per month, depending on the mentioned factors. If you intend to spend less on grooming, find a breed that doesn’t have a long coat that requires a lot of maintenance.
Always Consider What’s Best For Your Pet
As a pet parent or aspiring pet parent, do not make decisions for your pet based on price point alone. Make choices about what is best for the dog, and conduct thorough research of dog breeds and their needs beforehand. Proper planning will make it easier for you and your pet to live a long and happy life together. You will be at peace if your pet's insurance is updated and your pet routinely visits the vet. A medical and generational history of the dog will give the pet parent a heads-up for any hereditary illness. Avoid emergencies by purchasing quality toys, healthy foods and treats and conducting regular dog training. The dog should be adequately trained to handle itself when some emergencies and disasters arise. The cost of owning a dog varies depending on the breed, type, supplies, food, medical expenses and the state you are living in.