The Den of Slack

The cost of dog ownership

Before getting Rosy, I wondered how much it cost to get a dog. Well, now I know. In our first month of dog ownership, we have spent $850.23.

Wow, you must be thinking. You must really be spoiling your dog. Actually, not so much. Of course a lot of this expense is made up of big purchases that we won’t be making every month. But it is kind of amazing how quickly it all adds up.

  • The Marin Humane Society’s adoption fee for adult dogs is $150. It sounds like a lot, but this is extremely reasonable compared to the price of getting a dog from a breeder and even from other shelters in the area. (Adoption fees do tend to fluctuate based on the dog’s age. MHS charges $225 for puppies, and only $65 for dogs who are older than eight.)
  • The day we brought Rosy home, we spent $126.09 at the Humane Society’s shop on necessary supplies—a crate for her to sleep in and a soft fleecy thing to put inside the crate, a SENSE-ation harness for walks (regular collars aren’t the best for walking little dogs like Chihuahuas), some treats, a Kong, and a squeaky toy. This included a 15% discount that the Humane Society gives you on the day you adopt.
  • Licensing a dog costs $12 in Marin County (annually). This is cheaper than I expected, considering how much it costs to register a car…
  • Our first vet visit clocked in at $107.63. The visit itself only cost fifty bucks—again, pretty damn cheap when you consider a medical professional spent half an hour in a room with us, examining the dog and answering our questions. (When’s the last time your personal doctor did that?!) The rest of the money was for a 6-month supply of heartworm medication and a 2-month supply of multivitamins.
  • As we began to wean Rosy off the Science Diet she was fed at the shelter (they gave us a generous Ziplock bag of it to take home with us), we picked up a six pound bag of Innova dog food for $16.57. It’s high-end food, but hey, she only weighs ten pounds. It’s going to take two or three months to go through it.
  • We signed up for obedience class at the Humane Society for $98. The normal price is $140; we got a discount since we adopted her there.
  • About $105 went to a baby gate and Precision pen to keep the dog out of certain parts of the house. (Added bonus, the pen had free shipping at!)
  • I spent $8.38 on a bottle of dog shampoo and about $15 on a PediPaws nail trimmer—both of which turned out to be useless, because she’s terrified of the nail trimmer and even more terrified of getting bathed. So we spent an additional $25 on a trip to the groomer for a bath and pedicure (which turned out to be some of the best money we spent all month!) We’ll probably be bringing her back there every six weeks or so.
  • K9-Advantix, treatment for fleas and ticks, cost $72.03 for a 6-month supply at the Humane Society store. That’s actually a great price. It’s just expensive stuff.
  • The bone-shaped ID tag she wears on her collar cost $8.18 at PetCo. That seemed a bit excessive to me. (On the plus side, you get to watch the machine engrave it right before your eyes… kind of like an old-timey boardwalk attraction.) And the bone-shaped one was the cheapest option. For a few bucks more, I we could have gotten a heart-shaped tag embedded with pink rhinestones. Um, no thanks.
  • The remaining $78 paid for leashes, toys, tennis balls, rawhide chewies and bully sticks, and a pop-up kennel that straps into the seat of the car (and she refuses to get in).

We could have gone overboard on that last bullet, but tried to be pretty frugal. Rather than buying a pet bed for every room, she gets to lounge on oversized pillows that we already had covered with blankets that we also already had. Her water and food bowls came out of the cabinet. It’s a little surprising that the random toys and stuff you spoil your dog with is such a small slice of the total expenses, since that’s where it would be so easy to go crazy. Even so, I’m on a toy-buying freeze until she decimates some of the existing toys…

One expense that we thankfully didn’t have to pay for was the surgery she had in October to set a broken leg. She jumped off a bed while in the San Quentin foster care program and had a plate installed. A few weeks later, the plate had to be replaced with another one. That’s a few thousand dollars of work right there. I’m looking into pet insurance options (which will cost about $20/month from now to eternity) but unfortunately, any problems she has down the road related to that specific injury—like, say, the plate needing to be replaced again—will probably be considered a pre-existing condition. (Yep, they use that excuse with dogs, too!) Since we got her from a shelter, she’s already microchipped and spayed, and has had all of her shots. So those were other initial expenses we didn’t have to pick up.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m thrilled to have her, and every time I took out my credit card to pay for one of these things, I didn’t even blink. It wasn’t until I saw the first-month tally that I sort of blinked a little. And then I thought, Wow, I had no idea it cost that much to adopt a dog. And then I thought other people might be curious about how much it costs. So now you know. Half the battle, and all that.


  1. $150 adoption fee? You should see what it costs to adopt a human! Holy ยข#@p!

  2. Yeah I imagine that would be a bit higher. Also a dog doesn’t need a college fund…

  3. Does that mean Dad and I need to start saving in a grand-dog account for her future? Mom

  4. Emily, Richard and & I have rescued 4 or 5 and Bonnie & Jason have rescued 3 so we fully understand, but as I’m sure you realize they love you unconditionally and that is wonderful and more than worth it! I hope to meet her in June!

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