We've done our sums...
Lifetime Cost of Dog Ownership
A dog is for life...
...not just for Christmas. We’ve all heard that saying before, but as Christmas draws near and costs continue to rise, those planning on welcoming a puppy or new rescue dog into their home need to consider the real cost of owning a dog, now more than ever.
Read on for an overview of the average cost of owning a dog over the course of its lifetime, for prospective and current owners.
Also, if you're ready to get going with a raw dog food diet, check out our raw dog food calculator to help you with your sums and how much to feed. A great way to get going is with one of our sample packs:
Costs Considered Included:
> Annual pet insurance
> Vet bills
> Grooming costs
> Boarding costs
> Poo bags
Why should I consider costs before getting a dog?
The RSPCA recently released ‘The Animal Kindness Index 2022’ - a UK-wide survey exploring people's attitudes towards animals. According to this survey, 68% of pet owners in the UK stated that it is more expensive to look after their pet now compared to last year¹. Additionally, the number of animal abandonments saw a 17% increase from 2020 to 2021, and a 24% increase in 2022².
Owning a dog is incredibly fulfilling in a number of ways, but with abandonment levels continuing to rise, we want to educate prospective owners, so they are prepared for the real responsibility a canine companion can bring, before they take the plunge. With this in mind, we decided to conduct research into the lifetime cost of owning a dog.
How did we conduct our research?
Publicly available data on the cost of various dog-related products, food and services was analysed for small, medium and large dogs³ across their respective lifetimes⁴ , to determine how much owners can expect to pay on average when caring for their dog.
- The costs considered included:
- Annual pet insurance
- Vet bills
- Grooming costs
- Boarding costs
- Poo bags
As part of this research, we considered the five welfare needs of a pet that owners must legally provide for, as identified by the UK government. These needs are; a suitable environment, a suitable diet, to be able to show normal behaviour patterns, to be able to get on with other animals, and to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease⁵.
How much can I expect to pay for my dog over its lifetime?
The cost of dog ownership will vary according to their size, however our research found that the average lifetime cost of owning a dog is almost £21,000.
|Size||Weight||Average lifetime cost|
What aspect of owning a dog will cost me the most?
Owners who need to or choose to have their dog professionally groomed can expect to pay out a hefty sum for the service, which includes bathing, clipping, nail cutting and dental care - a total average cost of £5,862 during your dog’s lifetime.
Vet bills will also cost you a fair amount; not taking into account costs for additional ailments and injuries, healthcare fees will cost £4,012 on average, with large dog breeds costing the most at £4,348 during their lifetime. These costs take into account the following:
- Initial puppy vaccinations
- Booster vaccinations
- Flea treatment
- Worming treatment
What aspect of owning a dog will cost me the least?
Costs can be cut in a variety of ways but, on average, the products that will cost you the least are items such as bowls, identification tags and leads/collars. Surprisingly, picking up your dog's poop will cost you £507 on average during your dog’s lifetime, while tucking your dog into a cosy bed each night will cost an average of £760.
Is there a difference between the cost of kibble vs. raw food?
Our research found that owners can expect to pay £4,256 across their dog’s lifetime for dry food and £4,711 for raw food. Those concerned about the price difference of a dry food diet compared to a raw food diet should consider the long term savings on vet bills they could make by feeding raw, and the overall positive impact this could have on your dog mentally and physically.
Among a range of benefits, studies have shown that feeding a raw food diet to puppies has resulted in fewer environmental and food allergies as adults, compared to puppies who were fed processed kibble⁶.
Is there a way I can cut these costs without depriving my dog?
While conducting our research, we also found that 78% of pet owners think the cost of living crisis will impact their animals¹. Regardless of the breed, size or demands, owning a dog is a big expense, but with costs rising across the board, we have gathered some money saving tips and tricks below to help you pinch the pennies for your pooch.
Consider a holistic approach
When considering how you might be able to save money on your pet expenses without compromising on their quality of life, it’s worth considering holistic methods of care. For example, our research revealed that the average cost of traditional flea and tick treatment over a dog’s lifetime is £3,683. While your vet may tell you this is a necessary monthly cost, there are other more natural ways to repel these pests that minimise the use of chemical pesticides, whilst saving on cost.
Many holistic vets recommend homemade flea and tick repellant sprays - these are as easy as steeping some lemon, rosemary and sage in a bowl of hot water overnight, before straining, adding in some apple cider vinegar to the mixture and applying the mixture on your dog before walks. As with flea treatments, monthly worming can also be an unnecessary cost.
A faecal worm count test every 6 months, or when your dog exhibits signs of possible worms, will tell you for certain whether your dog needs treatment and is often much cheaper than monthly medicine. Plus you are minimising exposure to harsh chemicals which, long term, can impact your dog’s health. Win Win! Click through to the Feclab website to order your worm count test - ProDog folks will also receive a 10% discount (just use the code PDR10 at checkout).
Shop second hand
If there’s a dog product you need, chances are you’ll be able to find it at a low cost by shopping in charity shops, at car boot sales and online. Whether you’re looking for toys, leads, beds, collars, or grooming products, if you do find what you’re looking for, make sure to do your due diligence before buying. Check that solid items are safe and clean with no damage that could harm your dog (such as sharp cracks), wash any material objects such as clothes, beds and soft toys in hot water with detergent to eliminate the risk of fleas and other parasites being passed on, and avoid items such as hard toys or bowls that have signs of heavy use, as this may be harder to clean and therefore increases the risk of nasty bugs being transferred.
Ready, steady, cook!
That broccoli your child doesn’t fancy, or the lone banana sat in your fruit bowl needn’t go to waste! A great way to save money on treats in particular is to get crafty with the food you already have and make your own. Simply gather your ingredients and blend, then transfer to an ice tray and freeze for a cheap but tasty snack for your pooch. An even quicker option is to chop up leftovers and save them in the fridge. However creative you choose to get, make sure to check that the ingredients you are using are safe for your dog to consume, we have a super handy A-Z of no-go ingredients if you’re unsure!
Learn a new skill
If you’re looking to save yourself some cash, learning a new skill can be a great way to do that! There are plenty of tutorials on the internet that will teach you how to groom your dog, for example, and while the initial cost of some kit might be daunting, the annual saving you could make it well worth it. Make sure to take your time when grooming and, if possible, enlist a helper to distract your dog and keep them calm with toys and treats while you get to work.
Shop around and ask the question
According to our research, one of the most expensive aspects of owning a dog is the vet bills. While we all want our furry friends to be as happy and healthy as can be, there’s no doubt that doing so can cost an arm and a leg. Before welcoming a dog into your home, shop around for a vet that offers good services at a reasonable price - there are plenty of review sites that will help you identify those in your area - and keep an eye out for those offering payment plans to help you manage the cost of any unexpected treatments. The same can be said for insurance - use a comparison site to find the right cover for you and your pet and, before your contract renews, research any new deals you may be missing out on by auto-renewing. If you do choose to switch, be sure to double check whether you are covered for any pre-existing conditions your dog has.
Owning a pet - a dog, cat, rabbit or other - is no mean feat, and can have a big impact on your bank balance. Whatever your status, it’s important to do your research and look to the future to pre-empt - as much as possible - any costs that may arise and whether or not you’ll be able to afford them. Before taking the financial hit of a brand new puppy it is worth considering adopting a dog, not only can this be much less of an initial financial outlay, it can also be incredibly rewarding for you and the dog, not to mention helpful to rescue centres who are experiencing huge increases in numbers.
Whatever you decide, we hope that this research will help you and your dog have a happy life with no nasty surprises.
⁴Small Dog: 7.1-14.2 years, Medium Dog: 8.4-13.5 years, Large Dog 5.5-13.1 years. O’Neill et al. 2013. Longevity and mortality of owned dogs in England. The Veterinary Journal. 198 (2013) 638–643.
⁶Hemida M, Vuori KA, Salin S, Moore R, Anturaniemi J, Hielm-Björkman A (2020) Identification of modifiable pre- and postnatal dietary and environmental exposures associated with owner-reported canine atopic dermatitis in Finland using a web-based questionnaire. PLoS ONE 15(5): e0225675. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225675