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Dogs are expensive

I have done a little volunteer work at a Charleston SC dog shelter where I have witnessed firsthand and I was also told that many families give their pets away, including dogs, as they can’t afford them. I also read articles or see news stories on this topic from time to time. The fact is that any pet, including dogs, are costly to raise.

There are many studies out there on the cost to raise a pet. I see studies that show it costs between $12,000 to $25,000 over the cost of a dogs lifetime. The ASPCA says it may be $1000 to $1450 per year, depending on the size of the dog. I am sure other studies will show other amounts as well, but the point is that it is costly, in particular for a family that has a lower income or that is currently living paycheck to paycheck. Some of the studies include ones from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, the American Kennel Club, and other organizations.

The cost will of course vary. Some of the biggest factors will be the breed, was the dog in the household from birth to death (as it is most expensive the first year of a new dog as well as end of life). But there are many other factors that come into play as well.

A big chunk of the expense is how much care a “parent” gives their dog towards the end of its life. For example, do they pay for medical tests and/or treatments as the dog ages and gets sick, or do they let the dog “go peacefully” and without treatment. As those end of life bills can also add up quickly.

I have a 15 year old beagle (or so) who is a rescue dog. I can tell you over the last 2 years or so she has had more vet bills than at any time over the previous 12-13 years. She has had a serious case of dizziness, multiple episodes of being violently sick and throwing up for days, arthritis in which she struggles to walk, dental work, excessive panting/dehydration in which she has had to have fluid injected into her under her skin and a few other serious conditions. Over the last couple of years her vet bills have easily surpassed well over a few grand. While I can afford it, I can completely see how it is a challenge for many household to pay those bills.


Any family that is considering raising a pet needs to consider the cost involved. While it may be hard to think about money and it may be a difficult decision to make, the fact is that if you can’t afford to spend thousands of dollars over the years then you should not get a dog or pet. It is not fair to the dog and not fair to the family as well. Parents should also think about can they care for a dog with their schedule, do they have room for it, and all the other factors that come into play.

Too many pets are given to shelters because the adopter did not think about the cost involved. Or they do not think about their lifestyle and if they were around to care for the dog for examples. It is heartbreaking to see those dogs in a kennel, as it is not their fault but the fault of the person who adopted the dog, or bought it from a breeder.


Jon McNamara is the CEO of needhelppayingbills.com, a company that he started in 2008 and that specializes in helping low income families as well as those who are in a financial hardship. He also found NHPB LLC, a company committed to helping the less fortunate. Jon and his team also provide free financial advice to help people learn about as well as manage their money. Every piece of content on this website has been reviewed by him before publishing and many of the articles he has personally written. Jon is the leading author for needhelppayingbils.

2 thoughts on “Dogs are expensive

  • July 19, 2019 at 12:15 pm

    Cute dog! As a pet parent, the cost of my dog is a small price to pay. What they do for me – the the love they get back – it is priceless. Me personally – I’d rather pay for dog food, vet bills, toys and the cost of a pet and making them happy and healthy. That is more priceless to me than say going out for dinner twice a week.

  • July 20, 2019 at 7:00 am

    I agree! Don’t know what would do without my 3 dogs. The bills are horrible. Hundreds per year at least. But when I get back from the office they jump on me & are so happy to see me. My 3 lovely dogs are my loves but I do not like paying for all the costs of them – ha!


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