Budgeting for a pet – MoneySense

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How much is that doggy in the window? More than you may think. Canadians spend $8-billion annually on their pets, and spending has increased roughly 30% over the last five years. Food and veterinary care make up a majority of the expenditure, but the pet you choose and your lifestyle will impact your financial commitment.

Let’s break things down before you stare into the sweet, hopeful eyes of a prospective fur baby (dog or cat)—after which there is no going back.

Spending breakdown

Generally speaking, the first year of pet ownership is the most expensive. You have to acquire the pet from a breeder or adoption agency and pay the associated fees, physically prepare your home, and take multiple trips to the vet. Some of the physical items you need to add to your home include a bed, crate/carrier and toys. You will visit the vet multiple times for physical exams and vaccines, and it’s recommended that your pet undergoes a spay or neuter (unless they will be used for breeding). Still, the annual cost of an adult dog or cat remains high at $3,242 and $2,083, respectively.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) gives a breakdown of the average cost of dog and cat ownership via its annual Cost of Care publications, as shown below.

Annual Cost of a Dog

Food
$1,031

Veterinary care

Annual wellness profile
$121

Annual heartworm/lyme test
$74

Heartworm/flea/tick prevention
$228

Exams with vaccines
$128

Fecal exams
$42

Dental care
$556

Accessories

Collar
$39

Toys
$65

Other expenses

Pet insurance
$933

Annual license
$25

Total cost
$3,242

Source: OMVA

The first year cost of a puppy increases to $3,934 when you add things like a spay or neuter ($612), microchipping ($64), bed and crate ($190), and obedience classes ($460).

Annual Cost of a Cat

Food
$467

Veterinary care

Annual wellness profile
$121

Flea prevention
$127

Exams with vaccines
$128

Fecal exams
$42

Dental care
$550

Accessories

Collar
$8

Toys
$25

Other expenses

Litter
$156

Pet insurance
$444

Annual license
$15

Total cost
$2,083

Source: OMVA

Again, the first year cost of a kitten increases to $2,516 when you take into account things like a spay or neuter ($501), microchipping ($64), scratching post and carrier ($110), and litter and litter box ($191).

Overall, you’re looking at $31,678 over a 15-year lifespan of a cat and $33,112 over a 10-year lifespan of a dog.

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Variability by pet

With the cost of caring for dogs, there is more variability in cost due to their varying sizes and the genetic health issues of particular breeds. In general, the bigger the dog, the bigger the cost. Not only do larger dogs eat more, but veterinary care is generally more expensive as well. Think about the amount of anesthesia needed to for a Chihuahua versus a Great Dane in a spay or neuter procedure; a Great Dane is like a small horse!

Furthermore, some breeds are predisposed to genetic health issues and have shorter lifespans. Bernese Mountain Dogs, for example, have sweet temperaments and are great family dogs, but they also have shorter average lifespans (seven to 10 years) and are plagued with a host of health issues, like hip and elbow dysplasia, and certain types of cancer.

Variability by lifestyle

You also have to consider your home and work life when welcoming a pet into your family. The cost of care will increase if you have to hire a dog walker during the day because you have long office hours, or pay for boarding to accommodate work travel. Certain dog breeds also require more exercise and may need to be taken out more than once a day, especially if they are cooped up in a small condo or apartment. If in doubt, you can use Pawzy’s Dog Breed Selector to assess whether a particular breed might fit your lifestyle.

Emergencies

The costs discussed above represent averages and do not account for accidents or illnesses. You will have to set up an emergency fund or buy pet insurance to cover unanticipated expenses.

The last thing you want to have to do is re-home or euthanize a pet because you can’t afford them. Proper budgeting for the annual cost of care and emergencies is crucial to bringing a pet into their furever home.

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