In 2021 alone, a whopping 3.7 million Canadians brought home a furry friend. Still, what is the actual cost of having a pet?
The companionship of a pet can be one of life's most rewarding experiences. But, you need to prepare to take on this critical responsibility because your pet's life depends on you.
In the following, we look at some of the hidden expenses of owning pets in Canada. Read on to learn more about Canadian pet owners' actual cost of having a pet.
For the Love of Pets: Money Matters
There are many reasons why people choose pet ownership. Still, it's essential to think about how much money you can afford to take care of a pet before you get one.
The adoption fee can range from nothing to a lot of money. Yet, many other costs come with having a cat, dog, or other pet in your care. A shortfall in cash is one of the leading causes of Canadians having to give up their pets.
Make Sure You can Cover the Cost of Having a Pet
With the right pet insurance, you can cut back on some of the costs of going to the veterinarian, especially for emergency care. A standard pet health insurance plan will also cover general health and routine care. For example, it might include shots for pets such as Bordetella or Rabies.
Alternatively, you can customize a health insurance plan to fit your needs. This kind of plan is typically more in-depth. Among other things, it might cover your pet's illnesses and even major surgery.
It's important to remember that you'll likely have to commit to a monthly pet insurance premium. This regular payment will need to become a permanent part of your monthly budget.
The Cost of Having a Pet: Dogs
You might ask, “How much money does it cost to own a pet dog for the rest of its life?” The answer is about $5,000 to $20,000. This estimate applies to an average lifespan of twelve years.
Most pet owners pay somewhere between $1,200 and $6,500 for care during their pet's life. However, ownership costs can vary even more. The low price of bringing a pet home can fool you into overlooking how much it will cost to care for your pet throughout its entire life.
For instance, a $1,000 or less adoption fee can add up to a lifetime cost of $12,000 or more. Some people, however, can spend twice this much.
Let's have a closer look at some pet ownership costs. Here is a rundown of the typical costs of owning a medium-sized dog for the first year.
First Year Cost Overview
Most pet owners expect to pay for things like meals and vet care. Still, other regular and unexpected costs come up. You'll also need to think about the costs of moving or travelling with your pet.
Many apartments charge a fee for having pets, and you may have to pay extra for cleaning. Also, most dog owners will have the following expenses:
- Accessories: $0 to $50
- Boarding and travel fees: $322
- Pet health insurance: $42 per month
- Self-service grooming: $10
- Training: $30 to $100 each hour
- Professional grooming: $84
Nevertheless, those who own dogs know that what they invest in keeping their pets happy and healthy truly pays off. You get unconditional love, affection, and companionship in return for all of your hard work and money.
Specific One-Time Fees
Most of the high costs of pet ownership happen in the first year, except for emergency care. You can expect to spend more than $400 just on the basics for a new dog or cat. You might pay added fees such as:
- Adoption fee/cost: $0 to $350 (an expensive dog might cost more depending on breed)
- Bed and crate: $25 to $250
- Carrying crate: $60
- Collar, tags, and leash: $16 to $50
- Food and water bowls: $10 to $50
- Initial medical exam: $70
- Spaying or neutering: $200
The SPCA estimates that you'll spend $1,300 to $1,900 on your dog's care in the first year. However, this expense can vary based on the size of your dog. There are some significant facts on the animal ownership “bottom line” on the Alberta SPCA's website.
Annual Recurring Expenses
Researchers estimate that dog care costs between $580 and $875 a year. Other sources say the amount is higher.
For example, when the AKC determines the costs of raising a dog, they provide low estimates. In other words, they might consider that just veterinary costs alone will cost $650 a year. However, dog owners could also incur the following expenses each year:
- Food: $120 to $550
- Heartworm and flea prevention: $76 to $367
- License: $15 to $50
- Toys: $10 to $200
- Treats and chew toys: $50 to $300
- Vaccines and routine care: $80 to $250
- Vitamins and supplements: $58
These total annual costs can range from $409 to $1,740.
The Cost of Having a Pet: Cats
As a rule, cats are less costly to own than dogs. However, even the most low-maintenance cats can dent your bank account.
Among other things, cats live longer than dogs. They can live for fifteen years or more.
The average number of cats in a home is 2.1. It costs an average of $5,000 to $23,000 to own a cat for the duration of its life.
Extras Costs of Having a Cat
Cats love to knock things off surfaces, and they don't know the difference between toilet paper rolls and expensive decor. So if you don't give them somewhere to claw, they can turn your furniture into scraps.
You might want to set aside money for minor home repairs if you own a cat. Still, there are also some other things you might want to think about when it comes to cat ownership, including:
- Pet insurance: $21 a month
- Pet sitting or boarding: $15 to $20 a day
As long as your cat makes your life better, however, it doesn't matter the amount of money you pay out for them—as long as they are within your budget.
Despite the cost of pet ownership, a cat can bring unmatched benefits to you and your family, such as less stress and increased contentment. In addition, cats reportedly can also lower your risk of a heart attack.
The costs are the most during the initial year of owning a cat. Expect to pay up to $900 in the first year. These costs might include:
- Adoption fee/cost: $0 to $200 (an expensive pet cat may cost more depending on breed)
- Carrying crate: $20 to $75
- Cat bed: $20 to $100
- Collar or leash: $10
- Food and water bowls: $5 to $30
- Initial medical exam: $130
- Litter box: $10 to $200
- Spaying or neutering: $145
These one-time expenses can range from $300 to $1000 in total.
Annual Expenses Associated with Owning a Cat
Cats, of course, aren't all the same. For instance, one of your furry felines may not like the affordable cat food you have in mind.
Also, if you want your furry friend to stay clean, you must choose your litter wisely. Still, the following price ranges may give you a sense of what to expect in the years to come:
- Flea and tick prevention: $20 to $200
- Food: $120 to $500
- Litter: $70 to $150
- Toys and scratching post: $20 to $75
- Treats: $10 to $100
- Vaccines and routine care: $110 to $550
These total annual expenses can range from $300 to $1,600.
Planning for the Unexpected
There are a lot of unforeseen costs involved with owning a pet. There are many things to think about before getting or giving a pet to someone else in your life.
For instance, there's a good chance that pet owners will pay at least one $2,000 to $4,000 emergency care bill during their pet's life. Make sure you set aside money for an emergency fund if your pet needs care.
Budgeting for Pet Expenses
It's helpful to think of how your monthly costs will affect your budget. For example, are you spending a lot of money in one area, like eating out or a shoe addiction, where you can cut back?
Ask, “Is that worth it?” If you say “No,” you are likely unwilling to make the sacrifices needed to keep a pet happy and healthy.
Otherwise, set aside $1,000 to $2,000 as part of your emergency fund. You may need it for a potential vet bill.
Don't think, “It won't happen to me.” Setting emergency money aside in a savings account is mandatory if you're a pet owner. The cost of having a pet in Canada also means the cost of saving money for their emergencies too.
Preparing for the Worst
Take into account how you'll feel if you can't pay for a life-saving vet bill. If you can't, you might have to choose between your pet's life and being able to pay next month's rent.
Don't do this to yourself. It's not fair for you or your future pet. But, again, if you're worried that you can't pay for big vet bills, consider getting pet insurance.
Not all policies are the same. Your local vet will likely provide you with extensive information if you ask them about policies, but you should do your research.
Surviving a Pet Emergency: The Last Resort
You shouldn't use credit cards to cover the entire cost of owning a dog or cat. However, the right credit card can help you earn cashback and reward points for pet purchases you already make. Some cards also offer 0% financing, making it easy to move a hefty vet bill from one credit card to another if needed.
If you're considering getting a pet, make sure your credit is good. You can better afford a pet if you have a credit card that gives you money back when you buy things for them.
Before you apply for a card, you'll want to check your credit score to see where your credit stands. This way, you can lower your chances of being turned down for a card and figure out how to improve your credit if you need to.
Learn How to Better Manage Your Money
We hope you've enjoyed our brief overview of the cost of having a pet in Canada. If you're looking for more ways to manage your money intelligently, Creditpicks can help.
Visit our blog to learn more about living your best financial life.