What to Budget For When Adopting A Dog - PetFirst
What to Budget For When Adopting A Dog
Pet Care & Health

What to Budget For When Adopting A Dog

by MetLife Pet Insurance
3 years ago

When Adopting a new pet it is usually an exciting time filled with quality time with your new four-legged family member. However, it can also be an expensive time. You can offset unexpected costs with a little advance preparation though. Keep reading as we discuss common things all pet parents should budget for when adding a new furry friend to the family.   

Shelter Fees 

Depending on where you live and what shelter you go to, the adoption fee you have to pay will vary; it could range from a simple $25 to a few hundred dollars.  

The fee can also fluctuate depending on what type of dog you adopt. Many shelters charge lower fees for mixed-breed dogs as opposed to purebreds, or senior dogs instead of puppies. You can get a lower adoption fee by looking for discounts; many shelters hold discounts for holidays such as National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day (April 30).  

Even if you get a lower fee or manage to adopt a dog for free, however, don’t be fooled by thinking the entire adoption is free. There are still several other costs that come with adopting a new pet. 

Vet Fees 

In many cases, the animal shelter or rescue group that you work with will cover the necessary vet fees to get your dog ready to come home. Often, the adoption fee you paid will help cover medical exams or vaccines, and it generally covers spaying or neutering if that operation is needed. It’s still a good idea, however, to take your dog to the vet yourself and make sure your new pet is healthy following the adoption. If any additional vaccines, medications, or surgeries are needed, you’ll need to be prepared to cover those costs for your pet’s entire life. 

Apartment and Living Fees 

This won’t apply to everyone, but if you rent your apartment or house, you may be required to pay a fee to bring your new pet home. Some apartment complexes charge nonrefundable feed when you move in with a pet or adopt a pet while living there. For example paying $200 upfront plus an ongoing $20 “pet rent” every month to have a pet live with you is not uncommon depending where you live and who you rent from. Of course, fees and additional rent will always vary.

Other apartments ask for an upfront fee that’s refundable. The initial fee covers any damage that the pet might do to the apartment, so if the fee is refundable, you may be able to get some or all of the money back when you move out based on how your dog behaved. And since monthly pet rent is a discretionary fee, it’s legally allowed to be included in your lease (in most cases). While not all renting companies charge such a high fee, it’s worth checking with yours to know if you need to save up before bringing your new pet home. 


Be sure to stock up on everything your new pet will need before you bring them home for their first night. According to Petfinder, here are some of the must-have supplies when adopting a pet:  

  • Food and water bowls 
  • Food 
  • Collar and leash
  • ID tag 
  • Carrier or crate
  • Bed 
  • Brush or comb 
  • Cleaning supplies and poop baggies/scooper 
  • House-training pads 
  • Toys 
  • Treats 

While some of these are one-time costs, others — such as food and puppy pads — will be recurring expenses in your weekly budget. 


You might end up adopting a dog that’s already well-trained and knows how to behave. If so, that’s great!

In most cases, however, your new pet will probably need some training. Whether you get a puppy who needs to learn basic commands, a dog who was abused and needs help working through its fear, or a senior dog whose manners could use a little polishing, it’s not a bad idea to work with a professional trainer that can help your new dog integrate into the family and learn to behave. Research local dog training facilities to get a feel for what they charge. 

Pet Insurance 

Pet insurance is a smart investment: If your new dog has any unexpected medical issues, you’ll be able to provide them with the care they deserve. Pet insurance policies are easy to budget for and can give you peace of mind because you know your dog is covered. While the cost will vary pet by pet, we have Insurance Policies and Routine Care Coverage to fit every budget.  

Here at PetFirst, we know accidents and illnesses happen to all pets. PetFirst is here for every canine – and cat – year-round! Pet insurance can help cover unexpected vet visits so if your pet gets sick or injured you don’t have to think twice about the financial aspect and you can just focus on your pet’s care.

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