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The Typical Cost of a Dog Per Year (And How to Save on Fees)

If you’re thinking about becoming a new dog owner, or even evaluating your finances as your furry friend enters a new stage of life with different doggy needs, understanding the typical cost of a dog per year is important. You’ll want to consider a variety of actual and potential expenses so that you can budget accordingly, especially in these volatile and often challenging economic times.

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The Cost of a Dog Per Year…It Varies!

Pinning down the exact cost of a dog per year is impossible with so many different factors at stake. That’s why so many estimates of annual dog ownership costs vary:

So what makes the difference between a few hundred bucks and nearly ten thousand dollars?

Factors that Play into Annual Costs

In an annual “The Cost of Dog Parenthood in 2023” report, does a great job of addressing the cost variables – upfront costs, annual essentials, and optional extras. Also, costs will vary with differences in:

Dog Age

Costs for a puppy will be different from the costs of a senior dog (and every stage in between).

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Cost of a dog per year - Dog sizes

Dog Size

Expect to pay more for small and medium sized dogs even though it seems counterintuitive because larger dogs eat more and require more food; just remember that the average life expectancy of small to medium sized dogs are three to five more years than the life expectancy of large dogs (source: American Kennel Club).

Dog Breed

The demand for some breeds is higher than others, so costs tend to be naturally higher if you’re looking for a purebred. Also, some dog breeds are inherently more susceptible to certain health conditions, possible prompting additional costly vet trips.

Quality & Type of Care

A lot of the annual pet costs are contingent on how the owner cares for the animal. 

For example, do you take your dog to the vet for an annual checkup? Do you regularly buy new toys, treats, and accessories for your dog? Do you splurge on the highest quality pet food or stick with modestly priced brands? Is pet insurance something you purchase, or do you take your chances? Is your approach to grooming a DIY one, or do you have your dog professionally groomed (and how often)?

No two pet owners are alike in their spending habits when it comes to dog ownership, so of course it makes sense that annual costs of a dog per year will range so vastly.

Cost of a dog per year - dog food

Saving Some Money on Pet Fees…The Right Way

For those with limited incomes (or simply looking to save a few dollars), there are many articles, videos, blog posts and books available on how to save money as a pet owner. At American Service Pets, we seek to help individuals with mental health conditions save money on pet fees through legitimate letters signed by licensed mental health professionals. These letters include Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letters for housing and Psychiatric Service Animal (PSA) letters for traveling. If you’re in need of a letter to provide to a housing or travel entity, see if you qualify by taking this brief questionnaire.

I Train Academy behind the scenes

In addition, we’re proud to bring dog owners the opportunity to self-train their dogs at home to do a specific task to help with a disability (and therefore helping the dog achieve PSA status).

Our proprietary training program is called I Train Academy, and it’s a monthly subscription – you can cancel anytime, but we strongly encourage you to put in the 15 minutes each day to help your dog unlock PSA status and you, peace of mind.

Obtaining your ESA or PSA letter (especially the latter) in a legitimate way with the proper training along with doctor-approved sign-off may help you save some serious fees. More important, though, it will allow you to keep your dog with you so you maintain the care and support you need from your support or service animal at all times.

Tracking Your Pet Expenses

Everyone talks about how expensive kids are too – but pets and service animals can run up the bills as well. For that reason, we recommend finding a pet expense tracker on a site like Etsy. Ranging from printable PDFs to digital documents, these tracking sheets tend to be very inexpensive and easy to use.

Our recommendations:

Jessica left a 5-star review on CreativeClaireCo’s Pet Finance Tracker, saying: “I bought multiple pet info trackers and they have all been so great. I spent a little on Amazon for a binder and clear sheets, now I have all of my info in one place. I love it!”

If you track your pet expenses, we’d love to know how much you spend on your pet annually (if you feel comfortable sharing). Continue the conversation on social and tag us at @americanservicepets!

ESA or PSA Certification?

The benefits of an Emotional Support Animal certification and a Psychiatric Service Dog certification are drastically different. Fortunately for you, American Service Pets’ network of active board certified doctors can help you find the right path to certification. To find out whether you need an ESA or PSD letter, take our easy, three-step Pet Owner Survey!


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