How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?

Even if you can adopt for free, you'll still have to pay for supplies and veterinary care for your new family member.
man with dog

When looking for a new furry friend to add to your family, you'll likely hear the advice "adopt, don't shop." There are plenty of benefits to doing so, but know that adopting a pet isn't free, and costs can add up quickly if you aren't careful.

Wondering about the cost to adopt a dog? Here are all the items and services you'll need to consider, as well as price ranges for many of them. Remember these prices are just estimates, and your mileage may vary.

How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Dog?

Adoption fees for dogs can range from $35 to $50 generally, although the price can go much higher. You can pay hundreds of dollars, depending on where you adopt from, but you can also take advantage of free adoption events. When shelters are near capacity, they often partially or even entirely waive fees in an effort to find animals their forever homes.

Adoption fees for dogs can range from $35 to $50 generally, although the price can go much higher.

Assuming you're able to take advantage a free adoption event, you can expect the total cost of bringing home a new dog and buying pet supplies to start at $225 if all basic services are covered, or at $600 if you have to cover the services often encompassed by adoption fees. Obviously, if you opt for premium pet food and supplies, you can expect to pay much more.

What Dog Supplies Should You Buy?

You'll need to have a number of items on hand before you bring your new dog home, and we've detailed them in the chart below. These aren't all necessary, though many of them will make life as a dog owner easier. Note that many of the price ranges are quite large, but often the products at the cheaper end of the range will be sufficient, so don't let those maximums deter you.

Item Price Range Notes
Carrier/kennel $15 - $180 Carriers are typically soft cases, while kennels are hard-sided
$4 - $56
$6 - $84
$5 - $78
Be sure to choose the size that's appropriate
Poop pickup bags $5 - $66 Consider a subscription, as it might cost you less in the long run
Potty pads $6 - $49 Consider a subscription
Ensure you choose a durable pad that won't rip
Food/water bowls $5 - $210 The more expensive items are usually auto dispensers for food and water
Pet bed $6 - $400 Consider buying a pet bed that can be machine-washed for easier care
Crate $15 - $370 Price depends on size and material
Door gate $17 - $178 Price varies based on size and materials
Toys $3 - $200 Invest in a range of toy types, including balls, squeakers, and chew toys
Cleaning supplies $4 - $36 Buy both stain- and odor-fighters
Training classes From $129 at Petco Prices vary based on location and training center
$4 - $193
96 cents - $343
Note the most expensive items are typically multipacks and/or premium items

What Veterinary Services Will You Need?

Dog adoption prices can vary widely, depending on what the organization or shelter covers, as well as your state. While they'll likely cover a ton of different services, it's not a guarantee. If the organization or shelter covers nothing — which isn't likely — know that there are veterinary services you'll need to pay for yourself. Not all of these will be required, and again, costs can vary, but it's a good way to put together an estimate.

Service Approximate Cost
Wellness visit/exam $50 - $100
Spay/neuter $150 - $300
Distemper vaccination $20 - $30
(Could need multiple doses)
Rabies vaccination $15 - $25
Heartworm test $15 - $35
Flea/tick treatment $50 - $200
Microchip $50
Deworming $20 - $50
Collar/ID tag $5 - $10

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Dog?

Once you've adopted a dog, the costs don't end there. The American Pet Products Association has estimated the following annual costs for dog owners. Keep in mind that these are meant to be guidelines, as not all of these situations will apply to every owner. Still, they're good to consider before adopting — and becoming attached to — your new furry friend.

Service Annual Cost
Surgical vet visits $426
Routine vet visits $212
Food $259
Treats $76
Kennel boarding $229
Vitamins $58
Groomer/grooming aids $73
Toys $48

Readers, what's your advice for adopting a dog? Let us know in the comments below.

Julie Ramhold
Senior Staff Writer

Julie joined DealNews in 2015. Her work has been featured on MSN, Business Insider, Lifehacker, The Motley Fool, GoBankingRates, and Moneyish. In her spare time, she enjoys baking sweets, reading thrillers, and listening to an ever-growing list of podcasts.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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If it's out of love, it's really nothing.
michael bonebright (DealNews)
@Gio In LA-

Good points! One of our cats is 13 and quite ill. Senior pet care is a huge financial strain, so one should definitely be prepared if at all possible.
Gio In LA
This is good advice - many people do not consider the cost of acquiring, and owning a pet such as a dog. I think that your estimates for ongoing costs are quite LOW especially for the coastal areas of the country. Office visits are $80 and we have never had a surgical visit (including proper teeth cleaning with anesthesia) for less than $600, not including pre-op costs. Also - please be sure to mention that costs go UP as the dog ages and needs additional costly visits, meds and care. Towards the end of the life of our last dog we spent $2500 in one week. Be prepared for this. BTW - Pet insurance rarely pays off, so just put away some $$ every month towards expenses.