How much does a pet cost?

Having a pet in your home can be a wonderful experience. Dogs can keep you active with regular walks and cats can be a great companion for the couch while you watch TV. Or, maybe you want a more exotic pet for your home, like a snake or parrot. Although pets are not free – it is an added expense for your household. In this article, we’ll review how much does a pet cost in Canada so you can make an informed decision before adopting. 

how much does a pet cost

While the benefits of having a pet can be great, you don’t want the animal to cause financial or lifestyle problems. In fact, this was a common issue in Canada after the pandemic. People could no longer support the animals they adopted during lock down, whether it was due to rising costs of living or returning to in-person work. According to CBC, there was a spike in people surrendering their pets to animal shelters in 2023. This can be traumatic for the animal and heartbreaking for members of your household, so it’s best if you can budget the cost of owning a pet before bringing one into your home. Keep reading to find out the answer to how much does a pet cost!

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How much does a pet cost?

The cost of a pet depends on many factors, such as the type of animal, age, and whether or not you have pet insurance. In addition, it depends on what happens during your pet’s life. Sometimes they need expensive, unexpected surgeries or training to control aggressive or inappropriate behavior. 

Furthermore, some people choose to pamper their pets (we’re talking about you, Millennials!) with things like luxury dog grooming or cat climbing installations in their home. Naturally, this is an added cost, but not a mandatory one. 

Let’s take a closer look at how much a pet costs in Canada below. 

How much does a pet cost per year?

According to Market Watch, the average household spends $741 USD on a pet per year, which equates to about $964 CAD. This works out to be under 1% of an individual’s annual income. Also, this statistic is based on the US market, however, many of the trends equate to the Canadian pet market too. In addition, this figure assumes the owner has pet insurance.

Below are some further statistics by category:

  • Pet insurance: $663 CAD per year
  • Food: $581 CAD per year
  • Vaccines: $260 CAD per year
  • Toys and Treats: $287 CAD per year
  • Preventive Medication: $239 CAD per year
  • Annual Boarding: $885 CAD per year

Overall, the total pet market is worth about $136.8 billion USD as of 2022. This figure was up from $123.6 billion USD in 2021. This number is expected to increase further in 2023 to $143.6 billion USD.

How much does a pet cost per month?

According to the statistics above, the average cost of a pet per month is $80 CAD. However, this figure does assume one has pet insurance which covers most of the big costs like vet visits, examinations, and surgeries. 

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How much does a pet check up cost?

A routine annual vet check up for your pet costs between $45 and $65 CAD. If your pet is sick, the cost rises to $100 to $250 CAD per visit. The cost of a vet visit can be much higher if additional testing is required, such as a diagnostic test and treatment. In this scenario, the number can vary greatly, but it’s not uncommon for it to be in the thousands range. 

Most professionals recommend you bring your pet in for an annual checkup as preventative care. In this case, the cost is quite cheap. But if you don’t do this, you might face higher costs down the road if a condition or illness goes unnoticed in your pet for too long, leading to more severe ailments. 

How much does every pet cost?

As mentioned, the type of pet you have will alter the cost of ownership. Each animal has its own needs and that reflects in the price. Below we’ll explore the typical cost of pets Canadians tend to own. 

Keep in mind that the below figures assume the owner does not have pet insurance. Therefore, they vary from the above figures which assume the owner has pet insurance. Rather, the owner is paying for everything out of pocket. In addition, these numbers are based on the Canadian market, not the US market, even though both are likely correlated.

Pet insurance can cover some of these heftier costs which can be easier on your wallet. However, if you’re adopting an older pet, rather than a baby animal, some insurance companies won’t provide coverage due to the added risk. For this reason, it’s helpful to consider the complete cost without insurance, just in case you’re turned away.

Related Reading: Types Of Insurance: A Guide For Canadians

How much does a pet cat cost?

On average, a kitten costs between $3,378 and $3,538 CAD. This accounts for the “startup” costs of a cat, such as spaying/neutering and initial vaccines. An adult cat costs about $2,796 per year on average.  

Related Reading: Best Cat Insurance Canada

How much does a pet dog cost?

Typically, dogs cost more than cats. A puppy costs about $5,000 per year. This accounts for initial costs like spaying/neutering and obedience classes. Once grown, an adult dog typically costs about $4,000 per year on average. There are some savings here, but again, dogs tend to be a more expensive pet overall. Moreover, dogs usually consume more of your time because of the need to take them outside for walks and bathroom breaks. 

Related Reading: Best Dog Insurance Canada

How much does a pet bird cost?

The average annual cost for a bird is about $350 upfront. For each year after, the cost is about $220 for food and other supplies. 

Cost of other small animals

Below is the average annual cost for other popular small pets in Canada:

  • Rabbits cost about $1,095 per year on average
  • Fish cost about $200 for aquariums and filtration systems, then $600 per year for food
  • Hamsters and gerbils cost about $215 upfront, then $180 for maintenance costs thereafter

Is it expensive to own a pet?

The most popular pets in Canada tend to be cats and dogs. These animals can cost several thousand dollars per year. As a general benchmark, expect to spend about $4,000 on your cat or dog annually, but keep some money aside in an emergency fund for unexpected expenses. The last thing you want is your animal to be injured or have an illness you can’t afford to treat!

Whether or not this is expensive depends on your unique financial circumstances. For some, this isn’t a huge expense and the cost can add a lot of value to one’s life. But others may struggle to afford these expenses, especially if an emergency arises. Consider your annual budget, income and expenses when making a decision. 

If you really want a pet, but can’t afford the cost of cat or dog ownership, you can always consider smaller animals, like a rabbit or hamster. These animals make lovely companions too, without breaking the bank!

Related Reading: Trupanion vs Petsecure: Which one is better?

Is it okay to regret getting a pet?

Many Canadians surrendered their pet to an animal shelter once the pandemic passed. This was due to both financial and lifestyle limitations. Some people could no longer afford the cost of their pet. For those who returned to in-person work, the issue may have been lack of time to care for their pet, especially if they lived alone or with others who couldn’t care for the animal. Or, being unable to afford pet care services while they’re at work. Further, some people may not have understood the emotional and time commitment of a pet and decide that ownership is not for them. For instance, if you like to travel a lot, the commitment may not make sense for your household. 

Finally, things can change in people’s lives. Perhaps you get a new job in another location and it doesn’t make sense to bring your pet with you. Or maybe you had a full household with a partner and children, but everyone has left the nest and you don’t have enough people around to care for the animal anymore. 

Pets become important parts of people’s lives, so it can be a really challenging decision to surrender or rehome your pet, may it be for financial or lifestyle reasons. Ultimately, this can lead to regret. It is okay to regret getting a pet and the decision you make upon this realization should be what’s best for the animal, not you. If you can’t reasonably support your pet, then surrendering or rehoming might be the best solution. However, take time and consideration at this stage. Animals deserve love and respect, make sure they go somewhere safe and loving!

Should I own a pet or not?

Pet ownership isn’t for everyone, but many Canadians find a lot of value in animal companionship. When considering if owning a pet is right for you, consider both the financial and qualitative aspects. By now, you should have a reasonable idea of how much does a pet cost in Canada. As for the qualitative part, consider your lifestyle and whether or not you can support a pet.

Read More: Pet Financing in Canada

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