When we started thinking about getting a second dog, we knew we would have to pay his adoption fee and a few other necessities. We were in the excitement of adopting a new dog, asking questions and figuring out the logistics that we forgot to do one critical step: talk about how to create a budget for a new dog.

We got Lenny almost over 2 months ago and after starting to settle the accounts, I am realizing how much a second dog is costings us. Almost $2500 – Ouch! And we didn’t budget for our dog. At least not in the right way.

The Initial New Dog Budget

We had set aside some money for his adoption fee and the initial vet visit in an initial budget. Our problem: we had assumed that since we already had a dog, that we could have everything we needed already, minus a few supplies: collar, extra leash, etc.

Lenny was an international adoption which meant that he could be flying in from another country and we didn’t meet him until he came to the states and our adoption process began. (Luckily, we did not have to pay for his flight or the slew of vet exams and shots he had to get to fly). But the part that started this snowball-like spending habit, was that we were judging him and his size off of pictures. He was a cute 3month old at 15lbs when they took the pictures, but when we got more recent pictures, he looked more like 50lbs. So, accordingly, we ordered sizes corresponding to what we saw in the pictures. Well, don’t believe everything in pictures – he was only 20lbs and the pictures had made him look larger. Opps – can’t return the massive box of milkbone LARGE dog bones.

Cha-ching: the initial adoption fee and doubling up of supplies $500 dollars unaccounted for.

What we did not account for was the extra supplies for a second dog. For example, we had two bowls, one for water and one for food. But then we started researching water bowls for two dogs. Eventually we decided on a fountain watering system that cleaned the water and was big enough for two dogs to share. Cha-ching: another $89 dollars unaccounted for. (Although they do quite enjoy the running water).

Pet Insurance

After our first trip to the vet, we started talking about whether pet insurance was necessary. With Lenny’s young age and clean bill of health, if we wanted to get pet insurance, now would be the time.

Ultimately, we decided that his breed did not have any major health issues that could potentially arise, there was not a true need to pet insurance. Ideally, we really liked the concept of “Pet Wellness” where your pet insurance covered for routine exams. In this case, having pet insurance would be very similar to having health insurance. But for wellness and emergency health issues, we were looking at over $70 a month. And that is assuming that something was going to happen.

One of the only budgeting techniques we did do, was each month, set aside money in another savings account that was automated to build a little emergency fund for Lenny in case he needed it. We set aside $40 a month so by the end of year, he would have roughly $450 set aside for emergencies, but really to pay the average $250 a year in vet bills.

Cha-ching: another $450 dollars discussed but not pre-budgeted for.

Vet Bills

We took Lenny to his initial adoption vet appointment which was $25, not bad at all. Luckily, he was in good health and had most of his work up already completed. He needed a few more shots and of course, being younger, he would have more frequent check ups than a mature dog.

Cha-ching: another $100 dollars we did not take into consideration for.

Puppy Supplies and Treats

And here is where the whammy set in… TOYS! With a 5 month old, we did not do the research on his chewing habits. We figured the amount of current toys we had could suffice, but Lenny was losing teeth and needed softer chew toys. And of course, we had BarkBox for our current dog (~$200 a year) and wanted to get him one as well. Overall, you just want to spoil your dog, right? We should’ve anticipated how MUCH love via toys, Lenny would enjoy.

Cha-ching: another $200 dollars unaccounted for.

Obedience and Training Classes

With a Belgian Malinois, we knew going through obedience school would be necessary. We thought it would be cool if he went through working dog or agility classes as well. We found a trainer that had worked with his breed and did an initial evaluation – $25. We liked what we had heard and saw and signed him up. We did not stop to talk about long term costs of schooling. Initial puppy classes are usually $100-$200 which we did have built into our budget, but we did not anticipate having a specialty trainer with private and group classes and a total cost of $1500! Ah! But at least our dog will be trained, right?

Cha-ching: another $1200 dollars unaccounted for.

Overall, we love our second dog and clearly spoil him silly, like most pet owners. We definitely learned along the way that having a pet can be very costly, even when you discuss initial costs up front. We should have had the money saved up already in an account special for our dog, but we didn’t so we are using credit cards (the frequent flyer miles for those training classes will be nice) and changing our spending habits for ourselves slightly. I would say that the next time we will be more prepared, but I do not think we are getting a third dog anytime soon. Good learnings though, regardless. If anything, reflection on recent purchases is always something you should do and do it frequently.

Join the newsletter


Subscribe to get all the tips and tricks to growing your net worth by email.

Only the best to your inbox. Unsubscribe anytime.
  • Stefan – The Millennial Budget

    Nice article Kelly. Amazing the cost of pets these days! Most people need to realize you need a pet emergency fund, as crazy as that sounds! With toys I realize that dogs like the simple toys rather than the fancy ones. Depending on how well you know dogs you could also train them in obedience. I have grown up with dogs my entire life so feel comfortable being the pack leader as Cesar Millan would say. Best of luck with the new pup 🙂

    • The training really took me by surprise, for sure! Definitely some costs in there to take into the account when you look into adopting or buying a pet.

  • brokeGIRLrich

    Yikes, pets are so expensive.

  • Great overview of costs!

    Just wait until they get older and need additional medication O.o

    For dog toys – if they like rope toys for chewing, you can make some really durable yet soft ones out of old jeans and the like – just braid up long strips of fabric. 🙂

    • Thanks for the idea! I have found the cheapest toy is a drunken water bottle with the lid screwed on.

  • Oh man we literally just adopted a 2nd dog ourselves. And in the same month, had our first vet bills for dog #1 plus her annual registration. Ouch!

    Second the homemade rope toys. And bottles always seem to be a winner, haha.