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How Much Do Puppies Cost? Budgeting for Your Puppy’s First Year

How Much Do Puppies Cost? Budgeting for Your Puppy’s First Year

Welcoming a new puppy into your home is a joyous occasion. There is nothing quite like the energy and playful spirit that a puppy brings into your life.

But welcoming a puppy into your home also requires planning and preparation. You want to set your home up with everything necessary to make your puppy’s transition as stress-free as possible, which can leave you wondering how expensive caring for a dog might be.

Budgeting for your puppy’s first year is an essential step in preparing for your new life as a dog parent, and knowing you are ready for the average costs associated with caring for a new puppy can help put your mind at ease.

To help you out, the following guide will highlight the typical costs of a puppy’s first year. Keep in mind that every puppy is unique, and so are their needs. Additionally, other factors will affect the cost of your puppy’s first year, such as (but not limited to):

  • Your puppy’s breed, size, energy level and specific health needs
  • The product brands you choose
  • The area you live in
  • The sales and promotions available at the time of purchase

This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but it provides a good starting point for creating your budget. Depending on your puppy parenting style, you might prioritize spending in certain areas more than others. The key is to create a plan to be prepared for the first year of your new puppy’s life.

Veterinary care

One of the primary and most significant costs of parenting a puppy is veterinary care. Taking your puppy to the vet will be critical in establishing a baseline for their health and building a relationship with a trusted veterinarian. Your vet will play a significant role in the first year of your puppy’s life and throughout the years ahead, starting with a wellness exam.

Veterinary costs for your puppy’s first year can range from $255 (if you are adopting an older puppy in good health who has already been spayed or neutered) to $700+.

When you first bring your puppy home, you will want to schedule an initial wellness exam with your vet. You may even want to have the appointment scheduled before your pet comes home! If you have other pets living in your home, it is a good idea to take your puppy to the vet before making any introductions. This can help ensure that no communicable diseases or pests are shared between pets.

Additionally, during an initial wellness exam, your vet will establish your puppy’s health profile and can identify any potential issues unique to your pup. Standard prices range from about $50 to $150 for a wellness exam.

Vaccines are critical to protecting your puppy from common diseases and illnesses. Your vet will typically recommend the following vaccines:

  • DHPP combination vaccine, which includes protection from canine distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus
  • Rabies
  • Coronavirus
  • Leptospirosis
  • Lyme
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica
  • Canine influenza

It is important to note that many of these require a series of vaccinations and boosters for your puppy to be fully vaccinated. You can expect to pay about $300 in total vaccine costs the first year, perhaps less if you opt for a vaccination clinic or your pet has already received some vaccines.

Spaying or neutering your puppy supports their health and helps reduce the load on overburdened shelters, which in turn helps prevent unnecessary euthanasia from unplanned litters.

Your vet can help you determine the right age for your puppy to be spayed or neutered. You can expect to spend anywhere from $200 for the basic procedure at a low-cost clinic to $700+ at a private practice or specialty center. Be aware that spaying typically costs more than neutering because spaying requires a more invasive surgery.

One of the ways you can help ensure the best chance of reuniting with your puppy if they become lost is to get them microchipped. Microchips are implanted into your puppy and contain all your contact information. Should you and your puppy become separated, any vet clinic or shelter with a microchip reader can scan your puppy and read your contact info.

Microchipping your puppy will cost about $30–$100, depending on where you get it done and if it is done in conjunction with another service, such as a vaccination or spay/neuter. 

New puppy supplies

While taking your new puppy to the vet is an integral part of contributing to their overall wellbeing, you’ll also want to stock your home with the right supplies to help keep them physically and mentally healthy. In each of the categories below, you’ll find that prices can vary dramatically depending on the type of product you choose, which allows you to build your supply list based on your budget.

Expect to spend a total of about $450–$1,165 on puppy supplies (not including the cost of food and treats), depending on the specific products you decide to purchase.

To feed your new puppy, you’ll need to invest in a food bowl, which can cost anywhere from $6 to $40 for a standard bowl. If you want an automated smart feeder, you can expect to spend around $150.

Additionally, you’ll need a water bowl, which will also cost about $6–$40 for a standard bowl, or you can opt for an automated water fountain, which will be around $80.

Next up will be picking out the right food for your puppy. Finding the right food can take time, but it is vital for your puppy’s physical health. The food they eat provides them with the nutrition they need to grow, develop healthy muscles and support their immune system.

If possible, it’s best at the beginning to keep your puppy on the same food they ate at the shelter or breeder to avoid digestion upset during the first few weeks home.

Once they’ve settled in, if you find a new nutrition solution with the help of our Right Food Finder or your veterinarian’s recommendations, make sure to transition them to their new food slowly over time.

The price of dog food can range from $2 for a small can of wet food to $100+ for a large bag of specialty kibble. Pricier dog foods, like fresh and frozen foods, typically include high-quality ingredients that are minimally processed and easy to digest. 

Additionally, you’ll want to purchase a few different treat options for your dog. Treats help you train your puppy by providing a positive reward for good behavior, plus they help build a bond between you and your new puppy! Treats will typically cost about $10–15 per package. 

Stocking your home with the right supplies for your puppy can help ensure your new family member has a stimulating, safe environment where they feel part of the family.

Give your puppy a comfy place to rest with a cozy dog bed. During their first few months, you’ll probably want to opt for an extra-small or medium bed, depending on your puppy’s breed. As your puppy grows, you may need to upgrade to a bigger bed so they remain comfortable. Dog beds range in price from $20 to $100+, with factors like the size, style, material and brand playing a significant role in the total cost.

For many dog parents, crate training helps with potty training and gives their puppy a safe, secure place that feels like their own. This can help curb separation anxiety and protect your home from unwanted behaviors, such as chewing. Crates cost anywhere from $100 to $200, depending on the size, material and brand you select.

Puppy pads are great for potty training and help your puppy avoid accidents in undesirable places before they are fully house trained and able to alert you when they need to go outside. Ranging between $20 and $75 a pack, these handy pads will likely cost about $100–$150 during the first year of your puppy’s life.

Cleaning up after your puppy is mandatory dog parent etiquette, and waste bags make it simple to do so wherever you go. Expect to spend around $13–$14 on a package of waste bags, or about $50–$75 per year.

During your puppy’s first year, there are bound to be a few accidents along the way. Wipes, sprays and other cleaning supplies are all great options for keeping your house clean. These products cost anywhere from $12 to $50, and you can plan on spending around $75–$125 a year on cleaning supplies.

Puppies have a knack for finding trouble, but with the right supplies, you can help keep them safe throughout their first year’s antics.

Help keep your puppy safe by investing in an ID tag before you bring them home. These tags cost around $9–$20 and allow you to keep your contact info and your puppy’s name handy in case they make their great escape.

You’ll also want to purchase a collar, which will allow you to keep their ID on them at all times. Collars cost between $10 and $50, depending on size, material and brand.

Keeping your puppy active will help them stay physically, socially and mentally healthy. To ensure that you are ready for evening walks and daily playtime, pick up following items:

A leash allows you to begin on-leash training with your puppy. This is an important part of long-term exercise for your dog and makes it possible to bring your them along on almost any adventure. Leashes cost anywhere from $13 to $40.

Harnesses are a great way to help keep your puppy secure when you first teach them how to walk on a leash. Many come equipped with a handle, allowing you to quickly and safely grab hold of your puppy as needed. A harness costs between $13and $50 and can be used either with or instead of a collar, if the model allows your pet’s ID to be attached.

A single toy will typically cost $5–$16, and you’ll want to stock up on a few fun picks for your new puppy before bringing them home. As you get to know your puppy and their unique personality, you can add to their toy collection based on their personal preferences.

Puppy services

Armed with all the right supplies, you’ll also want to consider what types of services your puppy might need during their first year. Expect to spend around $160–$900 total the first year on services aimed at keeping your puppy happy and healthy.

No matter how cute and endearing your puppy’s antics might be, investing in training right away can help ensure their long-term physical and mental health. Puppies learn a lot during their first year of life, and professional training can help ensure you are on the right track and reinforcing desirable behaviors.

A great place to begin is with a puppy-specific classes. These in-store classes allow you to socialize your pup while they learn basic skills. Expect to spend around $149 for Puppy Level 1 or 2 in-store group classes, or you can choose to bundle and save with an Essentials Package, which includes both Puppy Level 1 and Puppy Level 2 for $249.

For the busy puppy parent, remote training is also an option! A remote puppy class can help you learn basic training without leaving home. Puppy Basics is an online training via Zoom that costs $99.

Grooming is an important way to keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. According to Dr. Whitney Miller, Chief Veterinarian at Petco:

“Pet parents should talk to their veterinarian and groomer to determine the specific schedule of bathing and haircuts, but most breeds will need a bath every 4–8 weeks and a groom every 6–12 weeks.”

So, what should you expect to spend on grooming costs?

A haircut from a grooming professional costs about $47–$70, and a professional bath costs about $22–$50.

Additionally, you should invest in essential at-home grooming supplies, like puppy shampoo (around $5–$30/bottle) and a brush ($5–$40, depending on type). This allows you to bathe and groom your pup to maintain their skin & coat health between professional visits.

Miscellaneous costs

In addition to the supplies you’ll need at home, you’ll also want invest in a few other important items for your new pup, starting with pest prevention. Pest prevention helps protect your pup year-round to reduce the possibility of home infestations, as well as more severe issues like flea anemia, allergic reactions and heartworm disease. Flea & tick prevention comes in a variety of forms (topical, collar and chew) and can cost anywhere from $10 for a basic 6-month flea collar to $250+ for a year’s supply of topical treatments for a large dog, but most flea & tick treatments will average about $40–$60 per pack. Heartworm medication requires a prescription, and a 6-month supply can range from $22 for a small dog to $160+ for a large dog.

Another cost to consider is the monthly cost of pet insurance. To get an accurate price, you’ll want to reach out for a specific quote, but some baseline averages include:

  • Mixed Breed: $38 per month
  • Labrador Retriever: $44 per month 
  • Yorkshire Terrier: $41 per month 
  • Golden Retriever: $46 per month 
  • Dachshund: $50 per month 

Note: These are the average prices for an accident and illness plan for a 3-year-old dog with a $250 deductible and 90% reimbursement. If you choose a higher deductible, you will pay less for pet insurance per month. If you choose a lower reimbursement rate, you will pay less each month for a policy because the plan will pay less when you claim.

In addition to insurance, you might want to put money away in an emergency fund. This can be especially important if you don't have insurance to account for unforeseen accidents. A general recommendation is to save $2000 in a pet emergency fund.

Tips on saving for your new puppy

As a new puppy parent, you might feel overwhelmed by the costs associated with your dog’s first year of life. But while it’s important to be realistically prepared for the cost of owning a dog, you can also look for ways to save money and cut down on the amount you spend.

Try out a few of the following tips:

  • Take advantage of sales to stock up when you can. Promotions are a great way to purchase what you need ahead of time at a much lower cost.
  • Try snagging a few store savings opportunities, like:
  • Consider how you may be able to get additional savings through programs like curbside pickup and Repeat Delivery on items you’ll need regularly. Not only can these tactics save you money, but they can also help cut down on time spent shopping, giving you more time to spend with your dog.

Preparing for your dog’s future

Welcoming a puppy into your life is an exciting experience, full of endearing first moments, that continues into an adventure throughout your dog’s entire life. Not only is it wise to prepare financially for the first year of your puppy’s life, but it is also a good idea to learn everything you can about being a new dog parent. Start by reading up on how you can puppy-proof your home and what to expect on the first night with your new pup.