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Shelter animals and rehabilitated dogs and cats make wonderful family pets, and shelters are always looking for people to adopt pets. People often have lots of questions regarding fees associated with adoption. Thanks to, here are some of the most frequently asked questions, and answers, with regard to Adoption Costs.

How Much Does it Cost to Adopt a Dog?

A common question among dog adopters is why are adoption fees so high? Shouldn’t adopting a dog be free, or at least super cheap? 

When you purchase a purebred from a dog breeder you may be paying anywhere from $500 to over $1000 for your new puppy, but often that’s all your getting for that cost. When you adopt a dog from a shelter, your adoption fees are going to pay towards the cost of care your adopted dog has received while at the shelter.  Which is why adoption fees are often adjusted based on the age of the dog your adopting. Here is a break down of what a good shelter has already put into your dog before you even adopt.
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Spay & Neuter

The average cost for veterinary care varies greatly depending on your geographical location (city vs. country), the size of the dog requiring care, as well as their overall picture of health and how it influences the complexity of treatments. That said, the average dog spay or neuter can range from $45-$175 for an animal shelter. However, this doesn’t include the cost of pain relief medication that the shelter will also be responsible, which is another $10-$30 dollars. If you were to get your adopted dog spayed or neutered on your own it could cost you anywhere from $200-$500 plus depending on said variables.


The cost of intake vaccinations for dogs to prevent Distemper, Parvo, Kennel Cough as well as rabies can cost approximately $40 for the animal shelter, if not more.  If your adopted dog has been in the shelter for a few months they’ve most likely received a mo
nthly booster to keep them safe from shelter related illness.  If you were to pay for these vaccinations yourself you could be paying anywhere from $20-$150 dollars.

Parasite Treatments and Preventatives

Monthly flea tick and ear mite treatments as well as heartworm preventive
s for dogs are another monthly cost for animal shelters. De-wormer medications are often given preventatively as oppose to waiting to see evidence of worms. These treatments can cost approximately $10-$30 assuming that no labs are need. Lyme disease and heartworm tests are also another cost the shelter will incur to ensure that your dog is in good health. If a dog tests positive, Lyme disease treatment can cost anywhere from $20-$100 depending on the size of the dog. However, if a dog needs to be treated for heartworms the treatment can be extremely costly, and on average it’s at least $1000 if you were to pay for it yourself.


A good shelter will not allow their animals to leave the premise without first being microchipped.  Although a lot of pet owners insist that their adopted dog will never get lost, but shelters see it happen all the time— whether it be as a result of a natural disaster or an unfortunate accident. The cost for a shelter to microchip their animals is approximately $20. However, the cost to microchip your dog on your own can range anywhere from $45-$60.

Food, Shelter & Comfort

The cost to feed a dog for a month in an animal shelter can range greatly based on the resources of the shelter, but a general ballpark estimate is round $40-$60. This does not include special diets for dogs that need weight loss food or dog food for specific digestive needs. Then there are toys, treats, bedding, and other necessities that the shelter provides.

Extreme Conditions

If your adopted dog is on anti anxiety medication, eye drops, or other antibiotics the shelter will try to recuperate the cost from the adoption fees as well. This also includes X-rays, echo cardiograms and other specialized treatments. This means part of your dog adoption fees will go towards animals that need additional care even if your adopted dog was lucky enough to have a clean bill of health.


Some animal shelters will provide you with a bag of food to go home with so you can slowly adjust your new dog to they brand you’ve chose to feed them. Collars, ID tags, and leashes may also be worked into the adoption fees. If you’ve adopted a puppy or a dog that was transferred from one region or shelter to another, the cost for the transportation might be added into your dog adoption fee.

Remember most of these non-profit organizations do not receive Federal or State funding. The dog adoption fees make caring for the animals in the shelter possible. More often than not the regular day-to-day operations, the cost for animal shelter agents, veterinary staff, etc. gets paid for by the shelter’s ability to fundraise and acquire donations to keep themselves afloat rather than through adoption fees for animals.  Additionally, most adoption centers will explain what their adoption fees include.


For more information, please visit
Dog Adoption Fees | Dog Adoption Costs | Shouldn't Dog Adoption Be Free - Pet360 Pet Parenting Simplified   

Five Common Misconceptions About Pet Adoption - Petfinder  



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