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Woof-woof, meow! Translation: how much does it cost to own a pet?

Thinking about adding a furbaby to your family? Pet ownership (or “guardianship,” as it should aptly be known) is a rewarding experience. But post-pandemic inflation has pushed up the cost of pet food and supplies, leaving many Canadians readjusting their finances to care for their beloved animals.

The importance of setting a budget

According to a recent survey we conducted, 40% of pet owners encountered unexpected expenses in their first year of pet ownership.1 And, 33% actively made financial preparations such as establishing a pet savings account.1

Setting up a budget and squirreling money away in a high-interest savings account can better prepare you for financial surprises.

So how much is enough? We can start by reviewing the amount respondents spend on their pets per month.

  • 17% spend less than $50 per month on their pet(s)

  • 37% spend $50-$100

  • 31% spend $100-$200

  • 12% spend more than $2001

Before expanding your brood, make sure you account for your own expenses.

Upfront costs

The costs associated with taking home a pet vary widely, depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Whether you’re adopting from a charity or purchasing from a breeder

  • The type, age and health condition of the animal

  • The animal’s location

Assuming you’re interested in a particular breed of animal, you’ll likely have to go through a breeder, who can charge upwards of thousands of dollars.

In comparison, adopting from your local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or Humane Society is vastly more affordable.

Adoption fees typically include:

  • Spaying or neutering

  • Microchipping

  • Vaccinations

  • A health examination

It’s also worth noting that some locations offer a free supply of food to help offset the financial impact of pet care. Reach out to your local SPCA or Humane Society for more information.

But before your new bestie is ready to come home, you’ll want to make sure that you’re set up with the appropriate supplies, such as a litter box for a cat, or a cage for a rabbit. Do your research ahead of time so you can budget for what you need. Your breeder or adoption centre can also help you create a list of necessary items.

Yearly check-ups

Annual wellness checks are a great form of preventative care for your pet, and they can help prevent costly emergency visits down the line.

What might you expect at an annual vet visit?

  • A physical examination

  • Routine vaccinations

  • Dental care

Every veterinary clinic has their own pricing structure, so call around for the best deal.

In case of emergency

Like humans, pets need urgent care too. If your regular vet isn’t available, you may need to rely on your nearest animal hospital, which can be costly. Make sure your budget accounts for unexpected medical treatment. You can start with an emergency fund.

Pet insurance

58% of pet owners say they would consider pet insurance if cost wasn’t an issue.1 But when you consider the increase in veterinary fees, the investment might not be a bad idea. You can receive coverage for things like:

  • Vet exams

  • Diagnostic testing

  • Emergency vet visits

  • Injuries

  • Surgery

  • Illness

Reach out to your local SPCA or veterinarian for guidance.

Nutrition and diet

Food plays an important role in maintaining the health of your pet.

Quality, veterinarian-approved brands might cost more than conventional options, but they’re an investment in your pet’s health and wellbeing.

If your pet suffers from a chronic condition, they may require a special diet prescribed by their veterinarian. Ask about affordable ways to meet your pet’s dietary needs if the food they’ve been prescribed exceeds your budget.

Depending on your pet’s breed and physical health, homemade meals might be an option. Speak to your vet about creating a meal plan. You can search for pet-friendly homemade recipes online, and check out our tips to save on your weekly grocery bill.

Pet accomodations

When you’re budgeting for travel, don’t forget to account for the cost of pet care while you’re away. Pet hotels can be pricey, but you can find lower-cost alternatives like pet sitters using tools such as pet-boarding apps.

The most cost-effective option though? Leaning on friends and family if you can. Afterall, who wouldn’t love to look after your cuddly, wuddly cutie pie?

Spaw days

Even your beloved furballs could use a wash, trim and coif every once in a while. And not just for the blow-out.

Grooming your pets, particularly dogs, helps with shedding and tick and flea prevention. Most dogs have both an undercoat and outer coat which need extra care. Cats, on the other hand, just need regular manicures to prevent painful overgrowth.

Like most pet-related services, prices vary between providers, but be prepared to fork out $100 to $200 for a full-body treatment.

We suggest booking one “salon” treatment to figure out which tools and techniques can be replicated at home. Searching for tips online can also be helpful.

Doggy in training

A professional trainer can help you develop a way to communicate with your dog to address or prevent any behavioural issues. Some pet stores offer free consultations with their trainers, and if budget allows, your local SPCA may staff trainers at a reduced rate. Like all things, do your research!

Furrever home

Bringing home a pet is a big commitment. Planning how you’ll cover your new addition’s expenses will go a long way.

If you find yourself in a difficult financial situation, there are a number of services that can help ensure you and your pet can remain together.

  • The National Pet Care Fund helps low-income Canadian pet owners by offering a grant to cover a portion of non-elective medical costs.

  • The Sunshine Fund was designed to help families in crisis with urgent medical care at the SPCA Veterinary Hospital in Dartmouth and Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia.

  • The Ontario SPCA Wellness Clinic offers a community support service for families without the means to take their animal to a local veterinarian for routine care.

Reach out to your local SPCA or Humane Society to find out about options that may be available.

* If Quick Check pre-approves a card, you can be 100% sure we’ll approve your application as long as:

a. There’s been no change in your credit file information, personal information or financial status from the time you receive your Quick Check results to the time you apply for one of our credit cards;

b. You’re at least the age of majority in the province or territory you live in;

c. Your application isn’t flagged for fraud prevention;

d. You don’t have an existing Capital One account; and

e. You haven’t applied for a Capital One account in the last 30 days or had an account with us that was not in good standing in the last year. In good standing means not past due, over limit, fraudulent, restricted, or part of a consumer credit counselling program or bankruptcy.

In some cases, we may not be able to open an account for you even though your application was approved. This can happen if we’re unable to verify your identity, or you don’t provide the required security funds if you’re approved for a Secured Mastercard®.

1 This data was obtained in partnership with Leger, the largest Canadian-owned polling, market research and analytics firm.