The True Cost Of Pet Ownership

Considering adding a pet to your family? It's important to understand all the costs involved (spoiler: they're not cheap!)

Pets…they are my most treasured possession and the bane of my existence.

Ok, maybe that’s a little overdramatic, but they have their moments. The bf and I are the proud parents of two dogs and two cats and, while I love them all to bits, they cost a lot of money and require a lot of time. Today I’m going to break down our expenses and show you the cost of owning a dog or a cat. Understanding how much money is involved is one of the first things you should research before adding a critter to your household.

Introducing My Crew

If you follow me on Instagram, you’re likely familiar with the crew but what better excuse to share pictures and give them a proper introduction…

Cost of Pet Ownership

Baxter the Boxer: The First Addition

We got Bax as a puppy, and he’s been part of the fam for almost 7 years. This is an older picture, he was still a scrawny little pup. Nowadays he’s filled out and has more than a few grey hairs. He is a purebred boxer who has come with his own set of health problems including allergies and pancreatitis. Bax has been our most expensive pet to maintain by far.

Cost of Pet Ownership

Gizmo: the Kingpin

We got Gizmo as a tiny kitten from the SPCA, and he has been terrorizing us ever since. He’s our problem animal…very independent and always getting into trouble. I blame the bf for this. I may have been the one that wanted a cat, but he was the one who picked Giz. He thought his over-the-top energy would mean he would be a better match for Bax.

Cost of Pet Ownership

Bree: the Rescue Pup

It was 100% my idea to add a second dog to the mix, and I fell in love with Bree from a picture on a local rescue organization. She came to us after living as a stray and having a little of 11(!) pups. It was an adjustment getting her settled as an indoor dog and she may or may not have jumped out of a second storey window the second day we had her. Now she is wonderful, sweet, and will do anything for a belly rub. (You can read more on her story here)

Cost of Pet Ownership

Gemma: the Baby

Not exactly a baby anymore but she still acts that way. We also got Gem from the SPCA as a kitten, but this time I picked. I’m a better picker and she has turned into the sweetest, most chill cat ever. She is all sorts of lovable and never gets into trouble like her bratty brother.

Inspired by an ER Vet Visit

Now that you’ve met all the animals, let’s get into the nitty-gritty money part.

What triggered the writing of this post was a recent trip to the emergency vet. I bet you’re thinking it was for Baxter, and you would be right.

Our crazy dogs thought it would be fun to get into a full-speed collision while chasing their tennis ball and it ended up with Baxter cracking his head on the ground and giving himself a concussion (yup, dogs can also get concussions). He jumped up right away and seemed fine so we weren’t too worried initially but after we got him inside he was looking pretty wonky. Dazed, confused, one completely dilated pupil and a big bump on his head. I am the worrier (or you could call me the more loving pet parent, you know whatever), and was freaking out. The bf hummed and hawed about how he had a concussion and there wasn’t much the vet could do. I should also mention that this was in the middle of the first Oilers playoff series in a decade so he was less than happy to leave the TV.

Well, I won and off to the ER vet we went. Of course it was a concussion and there wasn’t much they could do. We were sent home an hour later with instructions to keep him calm for a couple of days and some anti-inflammatories. A few days later and Baxter was back to normal and we were only $200 poorer. We actually got off incredibly lucky with that bill. I had thought it was could at least $150 to just walk through the door at the ER vet clinic.

More Standard Costs of Owning a Dog or Cat

That was the first time we had ever had to take one of our pets to the ER. It’s not exactly a regular expense but these are the things that come up when you have pets.

Now we’ll switch things up and look at our recurring costs. Here is a breakdown of what we spend annually on our animals. The amounts are based on our spending for the past year, which was fairly standard for us. You’ll see that we do pay for pet insurance. I’ve talked about that more extensively here. Yes, we only have insurance for the dogs (clearly I play favourites).

 DOGSCATS
Food$724.27$107.96
Pet Insurance$1.196.52$0.00
Vet$517.22$223.34
Grooming$39.07$0.00
Cleaning Supplies$20.00$10.00
Toys$41.26$13.98
Accessories$50.00$12.34
Treats$133.16$34.56
City Licensing$72.00$42.00
Totals: $2,793.50$444.18
Combined Annual Total:$3,237.68

A Few Things

This example of our annual expenses does not include anything out of the ordinary. The biggest thing that will affect your pet budget is an unexpected visit to the vet.

Another thing to remember is that none of our pets are new additions. We’ve had Gemma for the shortest amount of time and even that has been almost five years. A new puppy or kitten will always more expensive at first because of the initial outset to buy the necessities, additional vet visits for vaccinations and you’ll end up spoiling them more early on. Our spoiling rate has definitely gone down the longer we’ve had them. No new toy everytime we go to the pet store.

Money Isn’t Everything

Obviously, cost is a big factor when considering getting a pet, but you can’t forget about the time commitment. Cats are relatively self-sufficient, but they still require some playtime, grooming, feeding, and litter box cleaning. Dogs, especially large dogs, will need a daily walk (even when the weather sucks) plus all of the above.

The worst thing you can do is jump into getting a puppy only to realize you don’t have the time or energy to take care of it. Over $3,000 each year sounds expensive, and I would argue that we are pretty thrifty spenders when it comes to our critters. You do have to remember that we have four though, so if you only have one, then that will cut the cost significantly. We don’t spend a lot of money on toys and accessories (leashes, collars, etc.) and have been relatively lucky when it comes to vet bills.

With the exception of Baxter, all of them eat Costco kibble (Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain), which I would highly recommend it. I did a ton of research on dog food and that line is high quality and way more affordable than comparable brands on the market.

You’ll also notice we don’t have any boarding costs for when we travel. My parents are kind enough to take care of our two dogs, and a friend comes in to check on our cats. We don’t travel a lot, but the associated boarding costs would limit us even more if we had to pay. One year we did have to board our dogs for a few days over Christmas break and it cost over $800. If you travel a lot that’s definitely a factor to keep in mind.

Favourite Products

Over the years of having pets, we’ve discovered some tried and true products that we keep going back to. I thought I would share those here in case you’d like to try them out.

Dog Toys

Hol-ee Roller – This ball lives in the backyard and gets more playtime than any other toy we own. It’s made of durable rubber and survives a whole lot of tug battles between our two dogs. Usually, it spends the winter out in the snow and gets brittle, so we buy a new one every Spring (we’re on our third). We buy the ‘Jumbo’ size for our dogs who are 60lbs and 70lbs, but there are different sizes available.

Rope – Our boxer loves to play tug, so we always have a rope for him. They last forever, are good for his teeth and don’t cost a lot to replace.

Nylabone – The upfront cost is higher than it is for a rawhide but Nylabones last forever and are healthier for your dog. Bree is a strong chewer, and one of these bones will last her at least a year whereas she can get through a rawhide in a few hours.

Freeze-Dried Liver Treats – We buy these in the biggest bag, and it usually lasts about 3 months. Our dogs don’t get a lot of treats at home, but we pack these in our pockets on walks to encourage good behaviour. They are easy to break into small chunks that are perfect for training, and they aren’t packed with additives found in other treats.

Cat Toys

Interactive Toy – Both our cats love to chase around this toy, and it’s a great way to get them exercising. We’ve tried the cheaper versions that have feathers on the end, but they usually rip those apart after a few uses. This one is stronger and can stand up to sharp teeth and claws.

Sponge Balls – Of all the cat toys we’ve tried over the years, these balls are a favourite. And that’s great because they’re so cheap and last forever (unless a dog gets ahold of them). Our only problem is that they are small enough to fit under furniture so more often than not they end up under the couch.

Cat Tree – As much as I wish that cat tree’s last forever they just don’t. We usually have to replace ours annually, so we buy smallish ones for as cheap as possible. This was the last one we bought, and it’s holding its own for now. The cats like the various places to sleep on this one but the top bed is small. Our cats are tiny so it’s great for them but keep that in mind if you have a bigger cat.

Cleaning Products

Nature’s Miracle – If you already own pets you likely already know that this odour destroyer is essential. We’ve had our fair share of pet messes in the house, and a cat who’s been known to pee when he’s mad at us, and this stuff works as promised.

Bissell Little Green Machine – Not an essential by any means, but this carpet cleaner has come to our rescue numerous times. It’s compact but powers out stains quickly and easily. Maybe add it to your Christmas list (I think the real sign of being an adult is asking for boring gifts like this).

#AdoptDontShop

If you are considering adding a fur friend to your family, make sure you check out your local SPCA or rescue group instead of going the breeder group. You might think you won’t be able to get a rescue puppy, but that’s just not true (all of Bree’s puppies were adopted out from the rescue we got her from). And rescue mutts really are special…they also tend to be healthier and hardier than many purebred dogs. Promise you’ll try?

Considering adding a pet to your family? It's important to understand all the costs involved (spoiler: they're not cheap!)

This post was proofread by Grammarly.

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