How much is that doggie in the window?

The true costs of pet ownership from a two dog, two cat family.

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. If you follow me on Instagram, you’re likely familiar with the crew but what better excuse to introduce them properly than this article…

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.

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, he picked out Giz because he was the most energetic (crazy) kitten we found.

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, so it was a bit of an adjustment getting her settled as an indoor dog. 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, so she was the most chill option. She is all sorts of lovable and never gets into trouble like her bratty brother.

Now that you’ve met the inspirations for this post 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 had thought it would have cost at least $250 just to walk through the door, but we got off lucky with a bill of less than $200. 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 it the more loving pet parent, you know whatever), so was freaking out and hauling Bax out the door to the vet while the bf hummed and hawed about how he had a concussion and there wasn’t much the vet could do. Well, to the vet we went, and the bf may or may not have been right. We were sent home an hour later with instructions to keep him calm for a couple of days and some anti-inflammatories, but more importantly a clear conscience for me. A few days later and Baxter was back to normal and we were only $200 poorer.

That’s almost a best-case scenario. With four animals in the house, I am shocked this was the first emergency visit we’ve ever had to make. These are the events you don’t want to think about but have to consider before you make the decision to get a pet.

The Money

Here’s a breakdown of what we spend on our animals on an annual basis. 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, but just as a recap, we only have pet insurance for the dogs (clearly I have favourites).

Dogs Cats
Food $563.88 Food $107.96
Pet Insurance $81.47 Vet $223.34
Vet $517.22 Grooming $0.00
Grooming $39.07 Cleaning Supplies $10.00
Cleaning Supplies $20.00 Toys $13.98
Toys $41.26 Treats $34.56
Accessories $50.00 City Licensing $42.00
Treats $133.16 Cat Tree $50.99
City Licensing $72.00
Dog Total: $1,518.06 Cat Total: $482.83
Overall Annual Total: $2,000.89

Over $2,000 each year sounds crazy expensive, and I would say that we are pretty frugal 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, aside for the emergency vet visit, our vet expenses only consist of annual exams and vaccinations. All of them eat Costco kibble (Kirkland Signature Nature’s Domain), and I would highly recommend it. I did a ton of research on dog food because our boxer has some allergies and that Kirkland stuff is high quality and way more affordable than comparable brands on the market. You’ll notice too that 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.

Another thing to remember is that we’ve had all our pets for awhile. A new puppy or kitten will always more expensive at first because of the initial outset to buy the necessities, additional vet visits for boosters and you’ll end up spoiling them more early on. We’ve had at least one pet in the house for almost 7 years so that initial spoiling rate has dropped 😉 Obviously, the money is the biggest 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 litterbox cleaning. Dogs, especially large dogs, will need a daily walk (even if 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.

Favourite Products

Over the years of having our 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 by the bulk bag, and it usually lasts about 3 months. Our dogs don’t get a lot of treats at home, but we pack these into our pockets to take on walks to encourage good behaviour. These 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 quite small (it works for our cats, but they are pretty tiny).

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, 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).

If you are considering adding a fur creature 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? #AdoptDon’tShop

The true costs of pet ownership from a two dog, two cat family.

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