Can I Afford a Dog? Some Things to Consider Before You Make the Commitment


Lifestyle, Pets / Monday, October 14th, 2019
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Dogs are quite literally the BEST. Seriously, as much of a pain in the ass he can be from time-to-time, I have on many occasions said that getting Benny was the best decision I’ve ever made. But dogs cost money, they take a lot of time and they can put a bit of a dent in your potential vacation plans. So, can you afford a dog?

Benny ?

I fully admit that I am a complete and total dog mom. The kind that you probably can’t stand that calls herself “mom”, has more dog photos on her phone than ANY other kind and tries to make it home at a decent time so that my “baby” doesn’t have to be home alone. 

Yes, I am THAT kind of person. I have a three-year-old black pug named Benjamin “Pugsy” Seigel. He is the absolute cutest thing in my life and my numero uno dude. But, dogs aren’t all cuddles, cuteness and fun. They’re a lot of hard work and they cost a pretty penny. 

For the single gal looking for companionship, a dog can be a great choice. But before you head out to your local humane centre to pick up a new four-legged friend, let’s talk about what it takes to have a dog and if you should get one.

Mixjoy Orthopedic Donut Cuddler in Pink

How much does having a dog cost?

Dogs are not cheap. While it might not seem like they tack on a ton to your bills, the costs really do add up. There are the initial costs, monthly and yearly costs, and even end of life costs.

When you add it all up, these cuddly and cute little creatures end up being a serious investment—and right now we’re only talking about time. So let’s do a quick overview of the dollar-and-cents amounts associated with your new BFF. 

Initial cost of a dog

Regardless of whether you end up going to the local human society or getting your new pup from someone else, there are a ton of initial costs associated with purchasing, brining home and setting up your dog. 

Those costs include:

  • The initial puppy purchase price
  • Medical expenses including shots and getting your pup fixed
  • Dog supplies including toys, collar, bed, leash, etc.

Initial price: The initial price of your pup depends on where you get them. Benny came from a local family who’s pugs had puppies. He cost $1,000 CAD, which considering he is a pure-bred pug (but not papered) that’s pretty cheap. Other pure-bred pups like French Bulldogs, Pomeranians and Boston Terriers can cost WAY more than that.

While it makes me a bit of a hypocrite, if you can I would HIGHLY recommend you head to your local humane society or SPCA (like the Calgary Humane Society) to pick out a puppy. Not only will you give a deserving dog a loving home, but your initial purchase price will be more in the $300 to $400 range. Plus, they typically cover the cost of things like first shots (for a puppy), updated shots (for older dogs) and spay or neutering. All of which add up. 

Overall, for the initial price you’re looking at: $300 to $1,000+ 

Medical expenses: Your puppy needs shots and your dog should probably be fixed. Vet visits and surgery varies depending on where you live. Assuming you’re not getting your puppy from the SPCA, you’re looking at a vet visit plus the cost of shots and a bit down the line the cost of fixing your pet. 

While I live in a city where vet visits can cost $150+ but I save money by driving out to rural Alberta for Benny’s vet. A 45-minute drive saves me a ton of money, Benny’s vet visits, including shots, cost between $80 to $110, depending on the shots he needs. But taking him to the for the first time is tad bit more expensive. I’d estimate $200 for an initial urban vet visit with shots.  

Then there’s spaying or neutering your pet. This cost also varies depending on where you go but generally, it tends to be somewhere between $300 to $500.

Overall, medical expenses for your new pup will cost between $400 to $700 in your puppy’s first year.

Dog supplies. Your new puppy needs stuff. Not necessarily a lot of stuff, but initially he’ll need more stuff than you buy on a month-to-month basis. Some things that you’re new little dude or dudette include:

  • A bed
  • A crate or kennel
  • A leash and collar
  • Puppy pads

And don’t forget about puppy food and treats!

Costs for your initial dog supplies vary a ton depending on what you get, but let’s say about $300. 

So what does the cost of getting a dog look like? Here’s a quick overview, using the higher estimates so you’re well prepared (and might even have a little extra cash):


Human SocietyOther
Initial Cost$400$1,000+
Medical$0$700
Doggy supplies$300$300
Total$700$2000+

So, if you’re wondering can I afford a dog, you’re looking at having at least around $700 extra in your bank account before you get your puppy!

Puppy upkeep costs

Having a dog isn’t a one-time expense. There is a ton of monthly and yearly upkeep costs associated with your cute little boo!

How much does a dog cost per month on average? While this number tends to depend on what kind of dog you have because of factors like size, grooming… how many toys they chew on a daily rate, can cause it to fluctuate, I’ll share what Benny costs on a regular basis. 

What are some of the expenses I have on a regular basis?

Dog food. Benny gets a big bag of healthy dog food once every 7 to 8 weeks. It costs me about $50. If we assume that I replace it once every two months then it costs around $300 yearly.

Toys. Benny’s not a terrible toy chewer, but he does suckle on stuffed animals and de-stuff them which eventually ruins them. I probably give Benny one new toy monthly and throw one that he’s ruined out. That’s about 12 toys a year. Assuming you pay $5 a toy, that’s $60 a year.

Budget-friendly tip: If you want to find great toys for a smaller puppy that doesn’t destroy them, check out the baby toys section of a thrift shop. Benny particularly likes the stuffed animals and the chewy rubber-type toys like keys. Also, he carries around a hairless my little pony everywhere (I cut the fake Barbie-like hair off).

Treats: Benny’s not really a treat guy. He likes the occasional dog beef jerky (the real stuff, not the fake stuff) but mostly he’s happy with peeled apples or bananas. I probably spend around $25 on treats for him a year.

Grooming: Benny goes to the groomer about once every six weeks which costs around $25. He doesn’t get anything too fancy,  just a bath, blowout and his nails clipped. His groomer visits cost about $200 per year.

Puppy-sitting: Benny doesn’t need a daily dog walker or daycare because I work from home, and typically his babysitting is covered by my roommate. But in the past when I’ve gone on longer trips (a week or so) Benny has gone to a babysitter’s. It cost about $240.

So what does this all cost? Let’s take a brief look:

Food$300
Toys$60
Treats$25
Grooming$200
Puppy-sitting$240

$825

When it comes to calculating if you can afford a dog, you also might want to factor in short or long-term medication that your pup might need, surgeries and medical emergencies. For example, my mom has a super cute rescue with not-so-cute anxiety, so he has monthly medication.

And Benny got a surgery just this past summer to help prevent breathing problems (which are hereditary and life-threatening with pugs), and while it worked amazingly (seriously, his breathing is top-notch), it did cost a few hundred dollars.

One thing you might want to consider, especially if you have a pure-bred dog that tends to have breed-specific problems that are fixable but costly, pet insurance. It’s as low as $20 a month but can really help your pup long-term. 

RIP Midnight, my childhood buddy ?

Dog end of life costs

This isn’t something I want to dwell a lot on because it makes me totally sad, but when your dog dies it can cost money. You cannot bury a deceased dog in your back yard or burn it in your firepit in most cities or towns. That means you have to do something with your dog once he dies.

Our family dog, Midnight passed away peacefully in her sleep a few years back and my dad faithfully too her to the local landfill where they have a no-cost pet “disposal” (I’m going vague or I’ll burst out in tears). So our end of life cost was relatively inexpensive.

But if you end up having to put your dog down or want a specific method of body disposal, there are more often than not costs associated. 

Other things to think about

Beyond the cost of owning a dog, you’ll also want to consider the time commitment and mobility restrictions. Not only are dogs not free, but they also cost time and need somewhere to go when you travel.

Time commitment

“Can I afford a dog” is not the only question you want to ask yourself. The other even bigger factor, is do you have the time to give it. Puppies need love and attention, they need walks and can’t be left overnight on their own!

On a daily basis, Benny and I go for at least one walk—about 20 minutes, less if it’s super cold. We also play for probably close to an hour or an hour and a half if you add it all up. I feed him four times a day (if he goes too long without food he’s convinced he’ll starve) and change his water twice. Plus, he needs bathroom breaks. 

If you were to add up all of the time that I spend dedicated directly to Benny, it would probably be around 2 hours minimum. A lot of the time it’s more, but sometimes if I’m really busy it’s less. Ultimately though, you need the time to actually pay attention to your pup!

Mobility restrictions

Pets can absolutely travel, but whether or not they can go where you go is the real question. It’s pretty easy to take a dog to Mexico, assuming they’re medically able to travel. But it costs a lot of money and means you need to take care of him during vacation. They can also go with you to your mom’s house over the weekend, pending she’s OK with it. 

However, if you’re headed somewhere where your dog can’t go (don’t bring them to Bali, Europe, Australia, Jamaica, etc. if you’re not staying for a LONG time or moving there) or you don’t want to bring them, they need a sitter because unlike cats, dogs can’t hang out on their own overnight.  This means your travel may be restricted unless you can afford a dog sitter (they’re really not that expensive)!

So, can I afford a dog?

When it comes down to it, “can I afford a dog” isn’t the only question you need to ask yourself. Getting a new puppy or rescuing a dog is a serious consideration. 

There are a ton of families that get a dog one day and ditch it a few days later because it’s “too hard” or “they don’t have the time.” But dogs, barring serious life-changing circumstances, are not something you can just get rid of. They’re a lifetime commitment. 

So before you decide you can afford a dog, you need to think about a lot of factors. But if you have the time, money and are ready to commit, I would highly recommend it!

If you can't afford a dog, you can just look at this cute photo of Benny
Benny ?

Can you afford a dog? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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