How Much Does it REALLY Cost to Own a Pet?

By:  Dr. Hilary Slaven

“Mom, Billy’s dog just had a litter of puppies!  They are the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen!  Could I please have one?  PLEASE.  It’s all I’ve ever wanted.  I will take care of it, I swear.  I will feed it and play with it and he can sleep with me and everything.  You won’t have to do a THING.”

Hank the Puppy

Many of us have been there (sometimes it’s US, not our children!)  Getting caught up in the excitement of a new pet can lead us to make quick decisions about adding that responsibility to ourselves.  Children often do not understand the time and care required to properly take care of a new dog in the family, much less the financial burden.  The cost alone of adding a pet can take anyone by surprise.

We’re going to give you the big picture today on typical recommended veterinary care and the cost behind the care.

Just like any member of your family, dogs require yearly examinations to keep them healthy. Maintaining your pet’s health means planning ahead, preventing potential problems before they occur, and preparation for the unexpected.

Having said all of that, we firmly believe that a beloved pet can be a wonderful investment for your family and can thoroughly enrich your life!

So let’s look at some real numbers.


Shelter:  Typical adoption fees range from $50-200. Often include first vaccines, deworming and spay/neuter.

Breeder:  Variable; dependent upon breed. $50-3000. Often includes first vaccines and deworming and can include an initial exam by a veterinarian.



Variable, dependent upon type of food fed.  Recommended to feed the highest quality food that you can afford.

Example: Hill’s Healthy Advantage Canine Formula, dry kibble

Chihuahua: $13/month ($0.44/day)

Border Collie: $ 25/month ($0.88/day)

Labrador Retriever: $ 47/month ($1.50/day)

Great Dane:  $57/month ($1.90/day)

Keep in mind that most dogs need only a quality dry kibble for their complete diet. (Occasional snacks are ok!) This is estimated cost only, based on 2014 prices.


Veterinary Care

Routine Care:

Exam plus puppy vaccines/physical exam (Initial plus boosters) est. $ 350

Yearly vaccines/physical exam: $ 100-150

Spay: $150-250

Neuter: $100-150

Emergency Care:

The typical after-hours visit runs $100-150 for an exam, with other treatments as an additional cost.

Sick Care:

Examples of these include the broken leg, the cold virus that is picked up at the kennel, the development of allergies, etc.

These are difficult (if not impossible) to predict, and can be isolated events or ongoing issues.

Each veterinary visit typically costs between $35- 60, and any medications are at an additional cost.


Parasite control

Monthly flea/tick/heartworm/internal parasite prevention is recommended for all dogs. This protection is available in a variety of forms, including:

  1. Monthly flea control/internal parasite prevention pill plus tick collar = $150-$300/year (dependent upon weight of dog)
  2. Monthly pill for heartworm and internal parasite prevention plus monthly pill for tick prevention = $310-370/year
  3. Monthly topical for flea/heartworm/internal parasite prevention = $170-210/year


The above costs are generalized and based on current prices in our area of the country.  The veterinary recommendations also vary between regions.

All in all, making an informed decision about your future pet and health care can help to set yourself up for success!  And, like any investment, will help you to reap the rewards of a lovely new family member.



One thought on “How Much Does it REALLY Cost to Own a Pet?

  1. Reblogged this on West Central Veterinary Services and commented:

    From AAHA Trends magazine, June 2015: “The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has published estimated first-year pet care costs, including food, litter, license, toys, equipment, and training, with totals range from $1,035 to $1,843.” It is estimated that the “lifetime care of a dog will range from $5,850 to $12,700, depending on the size and estimated life span of the pet.” In light of this new article, I thought we might revisit our blog related to this subject with our general pricing from 9 months ago.

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