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The lifetime costs of owning a dog can easily reach £30,000

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What is the cost of owning a dog in the UK?

By Justine Seraphin Country Manager

Updated on the

There’s so much to consider before you adopt a dog. And budget is one of them! Owning a dog in the UK can be very expensive - so you must be ready for the commitment! 

Owning a dog isn’t just about wanting one or even having the time for one. It’s also about being financially prepared to provide for their every need. And that can get pretty expensive.

Here’s a thorough breakdown of what you can expect to spend on your four-legged friend:

What are the initial costs for a dog?

These costs include your dog’s price, what you’ll need to purchase before they arrive, and what you’ll need to pay for in their first few weeks with you.

Purebred puppy or rescue dog: £135 - £4,000

Getting a dog from a rescue not only saves a life, but it will also cost you less! Adoption fees in the UK generally range between £135 and £150. Plus, your dog will already be neutered, vaccinated and microchipped by the time they come home with you. 

Purebred puppies, on the other hand, are much more expensive. Purebred puppies also tend to be less healthy than mixed breed dogs, and you'll have to cover the cost of neutering and microchipping yourself. But if you think a purebred pup is what’s best for you, just make sure you’re getting them from a reputable breeder.

Dog toys: £5 - £30

Play is a great way to bond with your dog, so make sure you have plenty of toys waiting for them when they first come home. Toys will also keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated, so they’re an investment in their long-term health! Toys tend to wear out quickly, especially if your dog is a chewer or tugger - so you might want to set a monthly budget aside for these. Or you can make DIY dog toys yourself!

Dog beds: £5 - £90

Typically, the bigger and the higher quality the bed, the more expensive it is. The most important thing is to make sure your dog will have enough space to stretch out inside it, and that it’ll be a comfortable place to rest. If your dog likes to follow you around all over the house, you might want to invest in 2-3 beds to strategically place around your home over time.

Dog leads/harnesses/collars: £10 - £100

If you’re bringing home a puppy, you’ll probably have to buy new walking gear within the first few months, because they’ll grow out of their first collar and/or harness pretty quickly! Do a lot of research before purchasing a lead, harness, or collar, as certain types will suit your dog better than others!

Food/water bowls: £10

You may have to pay a little more for non-slip, high-raised, or decorative bowls. If your pooch is a fast eater, you may want to invest in a slow-feeder, which also tends to be a little more expensive.

Toothbrush: £5

You should get your pooch used to getting their teeth brushed as soon as they come home with you - so make sure you’re ready with all the necessary tools.

Brush/shampoo: £15

This is especially important if you’ve got a long-haired or double-coated breed. Some dogs need daily brushing, and all dogs need a bath when they come home muddy or sandy! 

Car restraint: £10

In the UK, it’s illegal to drive with an unrestrained animal in the car. You should be investing in a doggy seatbelt or crate to keep your dog safe while you drive.

Initial course of vaccinations: £30 - £60

Puppies are usually vaccinated for the first time at 8-10 weeks of age. Their second dose can come 2-4 weeks after that. They’ll then require a booster at 6-12 months of age.

Neutering: £200 - £350

Not only does neutering help to avoid behavioural problems, it’s also a healthier option for your pet as it reduces the likelihood of certain cancers developing. Dogs can typically be neutered from 6 months of age, but you should discuss what’s best for your pet with your vet.

Microchipping: £10 - £30

Microchipping dogs is mandatory in the UK, so don’t dilly dally! Puppies as young as 2 months of age can already be microchipped. Microchips last a lifetime, although the information on the chip may have to be updated if your address changes, for example.

The initial costs of owning a dog in the UK will be between £485 - £5,100. Due to this, your dog’s first year with you tends to be the most expensive. Remember, you can reduce these costs significantly by opting to adopt rather than purchase a purebred puppy. 

How much does a dog cost per month on average?

These include costs of things you’ll have to purchase every single month for your dog’s care.

Dog food: £20 - £80

Once again, higher quality brands of food tend to cost more. Higher quantities also mean a higher cost, so if you own a big dog, be prepared to pay more. 

In addition, special foods geared towards dogs with allergies or obesity, for example, are much more expensive than the basic dry dog foods. Alternatively, some owners are now opting for fresh foods delivered straight to their door - you should expect to pay a lot more for these as well.

Dog treats: £5

Treats are essential for training - and training happens all throughout your dog’s life! So while you shouldn’t go overboard with them, make sure you always have some available, just in case.

Poo bags: £3

As a dog owner, you have a legal duty to clean up after your dog. If you recycle plastic bags at home, then you’ve got your poo bags! If not, you’ll have to buy them at a local pet store. If you can, opt for biodegradable bags.

Toothpaste/dental chews: £5

Dog toothpaste is essential when brushing your dog’s teeth, as it helps break down the tartar. Ideally, you should be brushing your dog’s teeth every day, so you’ll have to buy toothpaste regularly. You can also purchase “mouthwash for dogs” which you can mix with their water - this also helps to combat plaque buildup and bad breath.

In addition, regularly purchasing dental chews for your dog will contribute to their overall dental health.

Flea & worm medication: £10

Flea medication is especially important if your dog spends a lot of time outdoors, with other dogs, or if you live in a warm climate. In these cases, you should give your dog flea treatment once a month.

As for worm treatments, they should be given at least once every 3 months.

Dog walker/daycare (optional): £10 - £500

This is not a mandatory cost for all dog owners. However, if you work full-time and have no-one at home to take care of your dog, this will be a necessary expense. Dogs are social creatures who need exercise and company! If they don’t get it, they can get destructive, not to mention stressed and depressed.

So if you’re spending 4+ hours at a time away from the house every single day, consider employing a dog walker or taking your dog to doggy daycare. The monthly costs will largely depend on how often you use the dog walker’s or daycare’s services.

The monthly costs of owning a dog in the UK will be between £66 - £621. You can reduce these costs significantly if you work half-time, remote, or if you’re able to take your dog to work with you. Otherwise, you’ll be spending a bundle on dog care every month.

How much does a dog cost per year on average?

These include the monthly costs added up, in addition to annual payments.

Monthly costs x 12: £792 - £7,452

These include all the above monthly costs multiplied by 12. 

Pet insurance: £180 - £440

Pet insurance is not mandatory, but it is highly recommended. It can come in handy if your dog suffers from an unexpected injury or illness and needs emergency surgery or treatment. You’ll have to do your research before choosing a pet insurance, as it doesn’t always cover everything we’d like it to (like dental cleanings, for example). Be aware that notoriously unhealthy breeds such as English Bulldogs will be more expensive to insure than healthier breeds. Cost will also vary depending on where you live.

Routine vet visits and vaccinations: £150

If your dog is perfectly healthy, you may not have to visit the vet more often than twice a year (around £60 per visit). However, your dog will require yearly leptospirosis and kennel cough boosters, as well as distemper, parvovirus, and canine hepatitis boosters once every three years (around £35-£40 per booster).

Dog sitter/boarding (optional): £245

This cost concerns owners who go on vacation and can’t take their dogs with them. Leaving a dog in a boarding kennel for two weeks will cost you on average £245. 

Grooming (optional): £205 - £540

Professional grooming isn’t necessary for every breed of dog. However, dogs with ever-growing coats or very thick under-coats do require professional grooming, sometimes as often as once every 6 weeks. 

The annual costs of owning a dog in the UK will be between £1,437 - £8,827. These costs can be significantly reduced if you work from home most of the time or can bring your dog to work - in this way you can avoid the cost of a dog walker or daycare. In addition, you can choose to bring your dog on vacation with you, which is generally cheaper than leaving them in a boarding kennel (not to mention it makes them a lot happier too)! Finally, you can save money on grooming by doing it yourself at home, or by opting for a smooth or short-coated dog.

The cost of owning a dog in the UK: Occasional expenses

These expenses are difficult to calculate, as they will depend largely on your dog’s physical and mental health. Nevertheless, you should be prepared for these unexpected costs, just in case.

Emergency vet bills: £150 and above

Say your dog is in an accident and needs emergency surgery. Surgeries usually cost a minimum of £1,500, although more complicated treatments could set you back as much as £30,000. There’s no way to predict whether accidents will happen, which is why it’s good to have pet insurance, just in case.

Treatments/medication for illnesses: £30 and above

As dogs get older, they may start to suffer from certain chronic health conditions for which they will need long-term treatment. A heart murmur, for example, is treated with life-long medication which can cost up to £100/month, depending on how severe your dog’s condition is.

Teeth cleaning: £150 - £500

If you brush your dog’s teeth regularly, they may not need a professional clean every year. If you neglect your dog’s teeth, however, you’ll probably have to take your pet to the vet for a dental cleaning at least once a year.

Dog training: £15 - £80

Although this isn’t absolutely necessary, you may want to consider training classes in the first few months after you take your dog home. This will help both you and your dog adjust to each other, and classes with other dogs also promote socialisation! Seeing a behaviourist later on may also be necessary if your dog starts to show behavioural problems.

The occasional costs of owning a dog in the UK can technically go from £0, if your dog never encounters any health or behavioural issues, to an unlimited amount if they do! You can limit your occasional costs by getting pet insurance, investing in preventive care (including daily teeth brushing), and training your dog yourself, without the help of a professional. 

Considering dogs generally live 10-15 years (depending on the breed), your dog’s lifetime cost could easily reach £30,000! Make sure that’s an investment you can make before you decide to bring a dog home. As their owner, you have to make sure you provide for all their welfare needs!

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