As financial investments go, pet ownership is hard to recommend.
Of course, the money and time we invest pay huge dividends in love and companionship. I’m in the pro-pet camp – we share our home with three cats and two dogs, all from local rescue agencies – but the financial cost needs to be considered.
The initial expense in adding a pet to your family ranges from $300 to $3,000 or more, depending on whether you’re adopting a rescue or buying a purebred. And that’s only the beginning.
The average annual cost to own a pet in Canada is over $3,200 for a dog, and about $2,000 for a cat. That adds up to more than $38,000 over a dog’s 12-year lifespan, and more than $30,000 over a cat’s 15-year lifespan.
The cost in the pet’s first year is even higher, when you factor in a pet bed, a crate/carrier, feeding bowls, baby gate, collars, leashes, and toys, among other items. There are also veterinary visits needed for initial vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and micro-chipping.
In addition to budgeting for annual health care, it’s important to prepare for the cost of medical emergencies. (I speak from experience when I say these will inevitably occur on a holiday weekend, requiring emergency hospital visits.)
To be ready for the unpredictability of emergencies or the possible development of chronic conditions, consider pet insurance. Check out insurance companies carefully to weigh benefits and restrictions, and insure your pet as soon as possible, as insurance policies will not cover pre-existing conditions.
Dog ownership brings special financial considerations. You may want to fence all or part of your yard and, depending on your work situation, you may need to factor in the cost of daycare or a dog-walker.
If you travel regularly, your budget needs to include the cost of a pet-sitter or boarding. And many dogs and some cats require occasional or regular trips to a groomer.
Planning for the true cost of pet ownership helps us limit financial surprises and give our pets the best life possible.