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Annual Cost of Having a Dog

My friends tease me about keeping a financial spreadsheet for how much I spend on my dogs each year. They argue it’s better NOT to know. Funny, right? Nothing will ever compare to the nearly $31,000 we spent in 23 months trying to save Lilly’s life. I was still surprised at the 2016 total for Clover and Tori. Here is our report on the annual cost of having a dog.

Annual Cost of Having a Dog

annual cost of having a dog

The veterinary line includes Tori’s spay and rear dewclaw removal surgery (about $629) and Tori’s 1-year-old titer tests and genetic tests (about $350). It also includes several $300 or so things that came up with Clover last year.

The training line is higher than usual because I invested in some agility equipment for here at the house. And, clearly, I bought WAY too many toys and treats.

Our pet insurance went up 21% for our policy year (September to September), so that line will be more this year.

The costs aren’t exactly evenly split, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s say it’s 50 / 50:

That means the annual cost of having a dog (at my house) is just under $3,600.

This is why those typical articles about the cost of having a dog make me laugh. When I see estimates like $700-$1,200, I know the data is averaged, but whew!

Annual Cost of Having a Dog – What Might Be Different in 2017

I think Clover’s training costs will stay pretty steady, but if we can ever get Tori over her extreme car-sickness so that she can take classes too, then her training costs will increase.

If all goes well, neither of them will have big veterinary expenses this year — no surgeries or big emergencies, for example. But, I did just drop $116 last week when Clover scratched her cornea.

I’m going to restrain myself on the dog toy and dog treat front. I’m making a lot more training treats at home because it’s SO much more affordable. I can buy actual beef liver and cook it for about $5 (resulting in at least 4 training days of treats) … versus buying “liver flavored” treats (tiny bag) for a lot more.

We also went through a lot of bison chews from a local company (that I love, but that are NOT cheap, even bought in bulk), so I will probably cut back on that too.

For 2017, I’ve split some line items into separate categories so that I can keep better tabs on my spending.

I wouldn’t be too worried about my dog expenses, except MANY of our other household expenses have gone WAY up (nearly 40% in some cases), so I need to pay even closer attention to my pennies.

I guess that means I need to put this Valentine’s Day garland I bought (about $3) into the spreadsheet somewhere. Maybe I need a category for photography props.

Do you track the details of your dog spending? How does your annual cost of having a dog compare to ours? Leave a comment and let us know. 

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Rebecca Montague - April 4, 2017

Hi. It will be 2 years in July that I lost my beloved Collie (Princess) to the adverse side effects of the rabies shot. She was only 6 years old. I am still devastated. So mad at the Vet. I can’t seem to understand “why”??? We took her to a Specialist in CA. Spent $7000.00 on scans and procedures. Nothing more they could do. I made the decision to have her uthanized. It was not an easy decision; but, I couldn’t bear her suffering anymore. Thank you for the article about Lilly. I am buying the book “HEART”. Thank you.

    Roxanne Hawn - April 5, 2017

    I’m so sorry to hear about Princess, Rebecca. I hear from quite a few other people who’ve been through an adverse vaccine reaction. It always breaks my heart.

Richard - March 31, 2017

Great post. It is very helpful for me and people who are going to have a dog. Thanks for sharing

Lynn - March 2, 2017

We live pretty frugally, but after keeping track of alarming vet costs in the past, I realized that our pets are going to get whatever they need, so I started tracking things we can actually cut back on, if we must.

BTW: Do you make liver treats that are like a brownie (to look at, anyway)? It’s an easy recipe, if you’d like it.

    Roxanne Hawn - March 3, 2017

    Hey, Lynn — I do not make treats per se. I literally just cook the livers (beef or chicken) and cut them into little pieces. I boil for 15 minutes, then bake for 15 minutes and cut up the livers. I’m going to do a post about it soon, but I would be happy to see your recipe too. Hope you’re doing well. I need to pop you an email about something else.

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