How much does it cost to keep a dog?

Published 5th March 2021

Dogs provide us with laughter, joy and unconditional love. And while you can’t put a price on the pleasure of owning a pup, when you decide to buy or adopt your pet, you may be committing to spending much more than you realise!

In this guide, we’ll take a look at some average costs involved in looking after your beloved pooch.

Average cost of buying a dog

Obviously, the cost of buying a dog varies massively depending on whether you want a fashionable pedigree or a loveable mongrel, but according to statistics from, the average cost for a dog in 2020 was just over £900.

Of course, rescuing a dog is another option and you’ll usually only have to pay adoption fees. Each centre set their own fees, but the RSPCA estimate a cost of around £135 for an adult dog to £200 for puppies under six months. Your adoption fee helps to cover the cost of vet treatment such as microchipping and neutering.

Average cost of vaccinations

Vaccinations can protect your dog against a whole host of diseases, from kennel cough to deadly infections such as canine distemper. Your dog’s initial set of vaccines should set you back between £30 and £60 (which is a lot cheaper than treating the diseases!)

Once your puppy is 6-9 weeks old, they can have their first vaccinations, known as the primary course of injections. They will usually get 2 or 3 jabs, administered 2-4 weeks apart. If you’ve rescued an older dog, and you are unsure whether they have been vaccinated it’s best to err on the side of caution and get them vaccinated as soon as possible.

Once your dog has had the primary course of injections, they will only need one jab per year from then on to keep their immunity topped up.

Average cost of spaying or neutering a dog

Prices vary around the country, but the cost for spaying a female dog can range from around £130 to £365 and neutering a male dog from around £110 to £300.

Not only can neutering your pet prevent any unwanted pregnancies, but it can also benefit their health and prevent certain diseases from occurring from uterine infections to potentially fatal cancer. So, it may be a price well worth paying.

If you find yourself struggling to stump up the cash, there are animal charities such as the Blue Cross, who may be able to help by paying towards the cost of the procedure. Bear in mind, you may experience a long waiting list due to disruption caused Covid-19.

Average cost of microchipping your dog

It’s every pet owner’s worst nightmare. Your dog escapes from a hole in the fence or spots a rabbit while on a walk and makes a run for it. Hours go by and your dog is still missing. Microchipping your dog could make all the difference when it comes to being reunited with your much-loved pooch.

Microchipping involves inserting a tiny device under your dog’s skin, the size of a grain of rice. This won’t hurt your dog and when inserted, if your pooch goes missing and is returned to a vet, they can scan your dog to find out where they live.

Microchipping is a legal requirement for all dogs over 8 weeks old. Failure to have your dog chipped and registered with an approved database could result in a hefty fine of £500! Luckily, it’s relatively inexpensive to have the procedure done, typically around £10-£15.

Average cost of dog food

The cost will depend on the size of your dog and the brand of dog food you buy, but you’re probably looking at around £25 per month to feed your dog. Naturally, larger dogs will need more food so will cost a little more, while smaller breeds will cost less to feed.

Higher-quality pet food tends to contain more meat and less ‘filler’ which has little to no nutritional value. Take a look at the ingredients – the higher up the list ‘meat’ is, the more it should contain. Try to avoid foods where “animal derivates” or “meal” are the first listed ingredients, as these products are usually lower in quality, and make sure your chosen dog food is marketed as ‘complete’ as this should mean it contains all the nutrients your dog needs to be healthy.

Average cost of vet bills

There’s no NHS for your dog, and without pet insurance, vet bills can quickly run into the hundreds of pounds.

While the cost of a trip to the vets can vary depending on what treatment your dog needs, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) puts the average vet bill at £822 – an eye-watering amount if you’re left to fork out for the full cost yourself!

Average cost of dog insurance

Pet insurance can be very useful to help you pay for unexpected vet bills should your pooch become ill or get injured. The first question you may ask is, “How much does pet insurance cost?”

Research by Which? found the average cost of a lifetime policy for a dog is £420 a year, so just under £40 per month. This number is only an average and the price you pay could vary massively from this figure.

Pet insurance providers calculate your premium with a number of things in mind, such as:

  • The age of your dog
  • Your dog’s breed
  • The level and type of cover you need

Another question you may ask is, “Do insurance providers pay out?” Well, according to the ABI, pet insurers paid out a record £815 million in pet insurance claims in 2019 – the highest figure on record!

Why should I insure my dog?

No one likes to think of their pet getting ill, but the reality is that it can and does happen. Pet insurance can provide peace of mind, knowing that you won’t have to deny your beloved pet potentially lifesaving treatment should they need it.

The minimum age you can insure your dog differs by provider, but you can usually start a policy from eight weeks old, although in some cases you can insure a puppy as young as four weeks old.

It’s best to get your cover as soon as your dog reaches this age, as an insurance provider won’t cover vet bills for an accident that’s already happened or possibly any health conditions your pet already has. Pet insurance premiums are usually more affordable the younger your dog is as they are less likely to need veterinary treatment when they’re young and healthy.

Some insurers will only cover your dog under a new policy if they are younger than 8 or 9 years of age. So, you may want to consider a lifetime policy when your dog is young as these policies provide cover for vet fees relating to new conditions up to a set amount that will be renewed each year as long as you continue with your policy. You should also consider that the cost of a policy may increase significantly as your pet gets older.

To get an indication of how much it could cost to cover your pup, why not compare quotes now? It takes a matter of minutes to do, and you can compare prices and benefits from a range of leading providers.


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