Wondering about the cost of owning a dog in 2020? Whether you’re one of the many who’ve adopted a pandemic pet or you’ve been planning on bringing home a dog for ages, it’s helpful to know: how much does a dog cost?
The answer changes based on factors like where you live, whether you adopt a rescue dog or get your dog from a responsible breeder (make yourself familiar with The Puppy Contract to make sure you’re buying from a responsible breeder), and your lifestyle. With all that in mind, the initial cost of getting a dog in 2020 can range from £730 to £1595 up front, including everything from adoption fees and spay/neuter surgery, to toys, treats, and more. The annual cost of owning a dog can range, on average, from £445 to £1,620 a year—with the most budget-minded pet parents spending less than £1,000 per year. However, a recent survey of dog owners conducted by Rover found that some pet parents spend far more than the average, with 18% claiming to spend more than £2,300 on their dogs every year. Despite this, 50% say they only budget £100 or less monthly for their dog’s expenses.
What goes into these monthly and annual expenses? While some costs like food and basic veterinary care are a must, there are options at many price points to accommodate all kinds of budgets. We dug into the data to uncover what pet parents are buying, what’s essential, and what’s just the dog treat on top of the sundae, so to speak.
The Cost of Owning a Dog: Initial Expenses
When you first get a dog, there are a lot of one-time expenses. It can seem daunting at first, until you realize it’s all about settling your new pup into their new life! The all up total for these one-time costs is typically between £700-£1,565, depending on whether you stick to the basics or splurge on more expensive essentials.
Adoption fees for rescue dogs typically range between £135 and £200, with the fee usually covering microchipping, neutering/spaying and vaccinations. Costs can balloon into the thousands if you choose to buy a puppy from a responsible breeder instead. I they aren’t yet spayed or neutered, that surgery can cost anywhere from £350 to £550. However, if you adopt your dog, the adoption fee often covers a spay or neuter. Vaccinations are especially important for puppies, typically costing around £100-150 and be sure to add in flea and tick prevention, which can range in cost from £5-£15, prevention is better than cure with parasite control! And don’t forget a pet license (only if you live in Northern Ireland) they can cost up to £12. All dogs over 8 weeks of age legally have to be microchipped. Reputable rescue centres and responsible breeders will ensure this has been done and will provide you with the relevant information when you get your dog.
Next up is all the gear you’ll need to keep your new dog comfortable at home: collar/harness (£5-£70), leash (£5-£30), poop bags (£1-£15), food and water bowls (£2-£30), crate (£20-£200), and a bed (£5-£90). Toys and treats are an important part of any pup’s life, and can cost anywhere from £1-£30 for toys and £1-£20 for treats.
The average cost of keeping your home and your dog smelling great can vary as well, with dog shampoo and brushes ranging from £6-£40, stain and odor removers £6-£18, and potty pads £1-£10. You’ll likely want to pick up some teeth care items like special dog toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush as well as dental chews, which can cost anywhere from £1 to £20. Lastly, make sure you’re prepared for any other medical expenses your dog may need right away, which can an average between £20 to £60 for new pet parents. Pet insurance is a great way to give you peace of mind, ensuring your pet is covered when they need it most. When getting a dog, be sure to ask for a vet check, this will flag up any pre-existing conditions your new dog may possibly have. Pet insurance often won’t cover for pre-existing conditions so it is important to understand your dog’s health from the outset so there are no surprises later down the line. If you rehome from a reputable charity or buy from a responsible breeder, they will be happy to provide you with this.
Like all things, expenses can range depending on your dog’s breed and size but also your own preferences and lifestyle as a pet parent. Before getting a dog, take a look at the price ranges for each expense and determine your budget and priorities.
The Cost of Owning a Dog: Annual Expenses
After covering the initial one-time expenses to settle your pup into your home, there are also annual costs to keep in mind, which add up to an average of £780-£3,600 per year. Food costs can range widely—anywhere from £190 to £950 per year—depending on the brand and how much your dog eats. Some dog parents opt for fresh dog food or grain-free food instead of the traditional dry or canned, often through a home delivery service, which can cost closer to $2,500 per year.
Routine vet visits are a must and cost up to £100 per year, possibly more. Flea and tick prevention (average £60-£95) and worm prevention (average £60-£85) are also important regular costs to keep in mind. Keeping your pup’s teeth healthy through regular care, including brushing with a dog specific toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as dental chews costs about £15-£60 annually.
We can’t forget treats, toys, and poop bags—most pups and their parents would consider these essentials! Treats, which can be a big help in training your dog, cost the typical pet parent anywhere from £30-£80 annually. Yearly costs for toys can vary based on quality and quantity, usually landing between £10-200. Poop bags cost about £30-£50 a year for most dog owners.
The Cost of Owning a Dog: Additional Expenses
While these expenses may not come up for every pet parent, it’s important to keep surprise costs in mind, which can average between £780-£3,600 total. Hopefully you’ll never need to make a trip to the emergency vet, but if you do the typical cost averages between £150-£2,000. If you have pet insurance, check whether emergency fees are covered. Teeth cleaning is another expense not every pet parent opts for, but if you decide to schedule a cleaning be prepared to pay anywhere from £150-£500.
Depending on your lifestyle and schedule, you may decide to book pet care for your pup. Dog boarding averages £30 per night and dog walking averages £15 per walk. Dog training is another common additional expense and costs up to £80 per session.
If you have a breed with a coat that requires regular maintenance, like a poodle or Havanese, this is one cost you’ll want to keep in mind: grooming. A typical dog grooming appointment costs between £18-£80.
The Cost of Owning a Dog: The RSPCA's advice
There are loads of amazing initiatives out there where you can raise funds for charities whilst taking care of your own pet. We are proud to say that when you book for the first time with Rover, they donate £1 to the RSPCA. Keep your eyes peeled for these, there are vets that donate to charity and products where a percentage of the sales is donated to charity. Check out the RSPCA Pet Insurance. For every policy sold, 15 percent of the price you pay goes directly to helping less fortunate animals. The best way perhaps is to adopt a rescue rather than buy from a breeder. That way you are helping two lives, the life of the dog you adopt and the life of the dog that can now be taken into the charity’s care.
“We would always encourage people to rehome a rescue pet where possible. There are some lovely dogs waiting for their forever homes at the RSPCA and our centres and branches can help you find your perfect match. It is important that any prospective owner does their research before considering getting a pet and that they understand the true cost of owning a pet. We are a nation of animal lovers, but sadly every year we see animals abandoned perhaps because they have been bought on an impulse or because the owner’s circumstances have changed and they can no longer cope. It is great to see more people consider pet ownership this year, however with lifestyles potentially about to change as people return to work and school, and possible financial uncertainties ahead, it is more important than ever to understand the costs of pet ownership so owners are fully prepared to offer their dog everything they need.”
Jane Tyson, Scientific Officer – Companion Animals
Boomers vs. Millennials: Pandemic Pet Spending
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we spend money, including on our pets. However, it seems that there’s a bit of a generational divide between how dog parents have been spending on their dogs recently: 35% of millennials say they’ve spent more on their dog during the pandemic, compared to just 15% of boomers. The majority of boomers (77%) say they’ve spent the same amount as they usually do on their dogs. That said, 60% of dog owners from every generation say they don’t have a designated budget for their dog at all.
How to Adopt the Right Dog for You
Bringing a new dog home is life changing and a commitment for more than a decade. If you’re thinking about adding a new dog to your family, read our tips on how to chose the right dog for you and your lifestyle.
Most Popular Dog Breeds in The UK
Is your dog’s breed ranked as one of the UK’s favorites? From beloved mixed breeds to popular purebreds, we looked at Rover’s database of more than a million pet parents to discover some of the most popular dog breeds in the UK. See which breeds ranked highest in 2020.
*Rover.com survey of 500 British pet owners via Attest in July 2020.
Sources: RSPCA, Petsathome, Nutriment, Vetuk, Petplan, The Kennel Club
Interested in learning more about services Rover provides?