Optimizing the Cost of Dog Ownership

Last week I detailed the very expensive cost of my dog, who is 6 months old. Undoubtedly, the first year of having a dog is the most expensive. But dogs can continue to be an expensive endeavor. As part of a larger desire to reduce costs of regular purchases in my life, I sat down to figure out the cheapest way to own my dog without sacrificing her health or mine. Someone once told me they spent about $700 a year on their dog so I was hoping to find that price. Unfortunately, I couldn’t put together a comprehensive plan of care for less than $1000. I am hopeful that in future years this price will fall below a grand, but I want to make sure every bit of my pup’s health is addressed, including dental care, which is often forgotten or ignored.

The three keys to keeping costs low for dogs are much the same as buying for people:

  1. Buy in bulk
  2. Buy online
  3. Buy generic

The first two can be accomplished through Chewy.com using their autoship feature and utilizing their online pharmacy. I have 4 different autoships for my pup set up for different time frames. All autoships get free shipping, which is accomplished by buying at least $49 worth of product. Most items receive a 5% discount when you put them into an autoship. Your goal when shopping for your dog is to put an order together that is as close to $49 as you can get.


I buy 3 Nature’s Recipe 12 pound bags at a time and set shipping to be every 6 weeks. The great thing about dog food is that it isn’t perishable! So you can buy food for your dog well in advance of them actually consuming it. I have a pack of dental chews included so it pushes us over the $49 mark. Food will cost about $443 a year.

For Dental care and treats I created an autoship for every 6 months that costs $58.75. My pup will get 3 tubes of toothpaste and 2 giant treat bags, along with the poop clean up bags, twice a year. Yeah, I am getting her toothpaste. I don’t want my pup to get some kind of oral disease when she is older! I love her and want her to live forever.

Treats are by far the best priced item on Chewy. A 10 pound box of Milk Bones cost $8.99. The same box costs $18.20 on Amazon! I made the mistake of buying Milk Bone puppy treats on Amazon when I first got my pup. I assumed Amazon was the best price on everything. Boy, was I wrong! I cut costs by 70% on treats just by buying on Chewy. Buying the bigger packs of treats is important. You could easily buy smaller bags of treats at the store for the same price as this 10 lb box of Milk Bones.

All together, the food, treats, and dental care will cost us $575.49.


I am also budgeting $10 bucks a month on bones or other spur of the moment treats or toys. It might seem like I am being unrealistic with that low number, but I have a backup supply of treats and toys. Remember the Barkbox we don’t need? Well, I saved the three toys from her fourth box and will save the three toys from each of the next two boxes we get. So I have 9 brand new toys in reserve. And when the time comes to buy a toy again, I’ll be headed to Marshall’s. They have plenty of toys to choose from for under $10!

Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention Medications

This area is where I was really getting gouged at the vet’s office. Once a month I had to bring my pup in to get weighed so they could give her the proper dosage. And then they charged me 2 cents short of $43 for Frontline Gold and Heartgard Plus. And anyone who gets a puppy will be stuck in this same position. But my dog has entered what should be her final weight range for this medication. I asked for a prescription so I could stop this rather silly ritual that was projected to cost me $516 a year. I researched two options, both of which would be wildly cheaper than continuing to sell my soul to the vet.

First, I could switch to Revolution and buy it from Chewy for $171.98 for 2 packs of 6 doses. I strongly considered this but since it seems contested whether Revolution actually prevents ticks, I decided to go with option two. I wanted to spend the little bit more money to be sure, since I do live in a somewhat wooded area.

Second, I could switch to Frontline Plus and keep it paired with Heartgard Plus. A 6 month pack of Frontline Plus costs 63.26 and for Heartgard it costs 42.27. So a total year of prevention medication will cost me $211.06. That’s right, I will be saving over $300, or 59%, just by buying online in bulk!

Vet care and yearly vaccination

This pup is going to be visiting the local Pet Supplies Plus from now on to see the vet there. Or if I find a vet with comparable pricing, we’ll go there. But man after I heard from two different people that I was going to the most expensive vet in town, I was really starting to get peeved. One of my friends takes her dog to the pet clinic at Pet Supplies Plus and buys medications and gets her rabies shot there. A rabies shot is a rabies shot no matter who administers it, so I don’t need it to be fancy. I researched this clinic and it is VIP Pet Care and it’s available at pet stores all over the country. The pet store near me actually has it 5 days a week.

For a Wellness Package, which includes a physical exam, it costs $90. This then gets you half off a vaccine pack. My pup will need their Dog Pack which has 5-in-1, Bordetella, and a Fecal Test. That will cost $40. A Rabies vaccine is $15 added on and so is a Heart worm/Lyme Disease combination test. There is a $3 fee. All together, the yearly clinic will cost us $143. I don’t think any vet visit so far has cost us so little.

Cutting Costs

So as you know, the first 6 months of her life cost over $3000. But the next year I am projecting her to cost just under $1100! Of course, I cannot predict the future, but I sure am trying. If anything, this price will fall dramatically once she hits a year old. Adult dog food is cheaper than puppy food.

My best advice is to buy online, in bulk, and get a generic vet visit. What ways do you cut cost for your pet care? 

Share your thoughts!

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