Five costs of dog ownership that you’re probably underestimating

Five costs of dog ownership that you’re probably underestimating

Health & Safety

According to the results of the PDSA’s PAW report 2020, which was collated after interviewing thousands of pet owners up and down the country about how they care for their pets and how much they know about them, 62% of dog owners in the UK underestimated the cost of owning a dog before they got one.

This is understandably apt to be a huge problem for many people; while for some this might mean having to cut back a bit when it comes to spending in other areas, for others, it could make the stark difference between being able to care for your dog’s essential needs or not.

How much it costs to keep a dog can be hugely variable from dog to dog and even depending on where you live, which is why it can be so hard for new or future dog owners trying to plan their budgets to know in advance how much caring for their dog is likely to cost them.

Even if you think of everything, you cannot budget for every eventuality either; for instance, if your dog developed a complicated or chronic health condition, even if they were very well insured to mitigate against this fact, it would still come with added out-of-pocket expenses for the owner too.

The PDSA estimates the minimum monthly cost of caring for a dog – the smallest, most economical dog, and providing the bare minimum to meet their needs – as being £70 a month. This is far more than some dog owners or would-be dog owners expect; and will be far from sufficient for many if not most dogs too.

The cost of owning some dogs can easily run into hundreds of pounds a month, and the costs are apt to increase as your dog gets older too, all of which make it really difficult to pinpoint how much money you’d need to have available to care for a dog, not just now but in five, ten, or even fifteen years if your dog lives that long.

However, it is possible to provide some guidance in terms of the costs of dog ownership that first-time or would-be dog owners most commonly underestimate, or even overlook entirely; which is what we will tell you in this article.

Read on to learn about five costs of dog ownership you’re probably underestimating.

Pet insurance

Pet insurance is one of the most underestimated costs of dog ownership among first-time owners, and in a variety of ways.

Many people run example scenarios to get an idea of how much a policy is likely to cost them before they get a dog, but until you input the details of a specific dog, you cannot get a firm quote; and some breeds are far more costly to insure than others, and policies can be hugely variable in terms of what they cover too.

A very basic policy might leave you with gaps in coverage for certain things or low ceilings for pay-outs on claims that you would be apt to reach quickly, plus you have to factor in the costs of excesses and potentially, co-pays, or your own contribution towards the cost of any claim.

Commonly, dog insurance policies require the dog’s owner to pay a percentage of any claim (as well as the excess) when the dog passes a certain age; and the cost of insuring a dog increases with each year of their life too.

You will also find that when your dog reaches the age at which the insurer deems them to be elderly, which is usually 6 or 7, the policy will generally leap up in price, sometimes by around double the prior year’s cost!

Choosing a comprehensive policy from a well reputed company from the start can cost more from the get-go, but means less chance of shocks in terms of policy increases and co-pay requirements as your dog gets older.


Bowls, collars and leads and beds; these are all things dogs need, and which most first-time owners don’t really think of with their budgeting. Accessories for large dogs in particular can be very expensive, and they need to be replaced at regular points too. You also need to add the cost of toys, grooming tools, and a whole host of other things as well, none of which are one-off costs.

Veterinary care

Veterinary care can be expensive, and most people planning to buy a dog consider the cost of neutering, vaccinations, and flea and worming treatments.

However, there is also the potential expense of illness and injury too, which can run to thousands or tens of thousands of pounds if you’re unlucky. Insurance is designed to help of course, but you still have a policy limit and excess to pay; and not all conditions are covered by all insurance policies.

Dental treatments for dogs, for instance, due to dental neglect, are not covered by insurance and can be quite costly, just for starters.

Dog-related services includes a wide range of things, many of which people budgeting for dog ownership underestimate or overlook entirely. These include dog trainers, walkers/sitters, doggy daycare, groomers, and auxiliary veterinary services like nail clipping, as well as kennels and boarding services.


Finally, food is usually the first thing added to the list of people budgeting to keep a dog, but one cost that is also often underestimated.

Picking the right food for your dog is something that requires significant consideration, and the cheapest possible option is rarely the best one; it tends to be the type and quality of the food needed that would-be owners underestimate rather than the quantity; and don’t forget about treats and rewards (in moderation) too!



Pets for StudWanted Pets

Accessories & services


Knowledge Hub


Support & Safety Portal
All Pets for Sale