Have you been dreaming of having your very own puppy to play fetch with? You aren’t alone. There are now over 7.7 million dogs in Canada.* Welcoming a puppy into a home is a very special event – but first things first, it's important that you know all the costs involved.
You have a budget for the house, your car, travel, and your other personal expenses. Shouldn’t you have one for your adorable pet as well?
Knowing how much you'll need to spend before you commit to taking care of a dog will help you budget for one and will ensure that you feel less financial stress once your pet joins your household. We'll walk you through what you need to know about the costs of owning a dog and how to budget for it. Let’s break it down.
How much does it cost to own a dog?
You might think that it's simple to take care of a dog. All you need are a few toys and food, right? But the actual costs of having a dog add up!
Initial and one-time expenses
Most of your major expenses will happen in the first year, starting from getting your home prepared for the latest arrival.
Tara Alexander, healthcare and professional advisor at Scotia and proud owner of her own pup, says that the first thing you should think about is the cost of the dog itself. Even if you adopt a dog, it usually costs between $50 to $150. If you get a dog from a breeder, that might cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on the breed.
Shots required if you're getting a puppy will be approximately $300 to $400 for the first round of vaccines, $250 to $350 for the second round, and $250 to $350 for the third round of vaccines.
Tara agreed that the first year of having a pet is always the most expensive, “Beyond the first year, you have reoccurring expenses to ensure they're up to date on shots and other health needs.”
Here’s a checklist of all your major expenses:
- Dog purchase or adoption
- Adopting a dog from a shelter can cost as little as $100-$200
- Purchasing a purebred from a breeder can go anywhere from $500 to $3000
- Spaying or neutering: While some services offer these for free, they have long waiting lists. Tara put her dog Echo on one of these lists when she was 6 weeks old and didn't get a call until she was almost 2 years old. If you want to pay for it yourself, it will cost between $450 to $600 for a female dog and $600 to $700 for a male dog.
- Water and food bowls
- Dog training (obedience classes)
- Initial medical exam and vet care (heartworm/flea/tick prevention, deworming medication, fecal exam)
- Collar, tags, and leash
- Bed and crate
- Carrying crate
- Registration and licensing
- Cleaning supplies
Annual expenses and insurance
For each following year of a dog’s life, you will need a budget of $500-$1000 to cover food, vaccines, routine vet care, annual license renewal, toys, treats, and pet insurance.
You can also consider getting pet insurance to help you cover any unexpected medical costs. You might not think you need it, but pet insurance can be a big help, saving you money on unexpected vet bills, accidents, and illnesses. With a wellness plan add-on, you also get reimbursed some of the costs of routine care.
An emergency vet bill or accident can set you back by thousands of dollars. Insurance starting from around $50 a month is worth considering. As with human health insurance, pet health insurance offers several different types of coverage so you will need to research what works best for you and your pup.
Tara notes that the other expenses to plan for are things like grooming, which can cost over $100 every time, dog training which can cost over $250 for each set of classes, a dog walker, which costs $20 to $30 per hour and boarding when you go on vacation, which is estimated at $50 to over $75 per night.
Building your budget for a dog
Once you add a new furry companion to your household, you will need to add them to your monthly and annual budget. That will include a monthly expense category for things like dog food, pet insurance, and medications, as well as a variable expenses category for things like grooming and toys. How much you will need to set aside each month or year will depend on your dog's needs. After all, a small dog will need far less food than a Great Dane.
Do you research beforehand ... Learn about the breed and what their specific needs are. Your dog is now a necessity so if you're used to spending $150/month on your groceries you now need to budget the additional food costs for your pet into your budget. Sacrifices will be made on your part both financially and socially.
Don't just buy things that you think your dog needs, says Tara. For example, some dogs need coats and booties for Canadian winters, but her dog's breed does not. A quick Google search can save you a significant amount of money.
Budgeting for a dog could mean cutting back in other areas in order to afford to take proper care of your dog. Or you could get creative about saving money on your dog's expenses.
How about cats and other pets?
You can build similar type of budgets for your other pets as well. We asked a few other Scotiabank employees to estimate how much they spend a year.
Roni has a bunny and spends less than $300 a year covering food, vet visits, toys, and treats. Roni also set aside $1,000 for a medical emergency that she has never had to use it.
Won’s guppies in the fish tank run on a much lower budget. The only high-cost outlay was the purchase of the $600 freshwater aquarium. The $10 water filter is only changed once a year and the $15 fish food can last up to two years. Other pet owners would probably envy that dream budget.
How about cats? Susanne has a senior cat named Lipstick. She figures she spends about $1,500 annually in food, litter, treats, and vet visits. She’s also saving money for some dental work. “But Lipstick’s certainly worth it!” she remarked.
Look for where you can save
You can get creative about saving money on your pet's expenses. Here are a few tips:
- Do your research beforehand. Learn about the breed and what the specific needs are.
- Buy in bulk, especially things like food and waste bags that you will need to buy consistently.
- While you want to make sure that your dog has enough things to keep them occupied, remember that you don't need to spoil them. Buying every cute toy or dog outfit adds up and is unnecessary. There are better ways you can show your love for your dog, like an extra-long walk.
- Boarding your pet when you go out of town can be quite expensive. Have a neighbor or friend to help you instead.
- Check out discount stores: You can sometimes buy supplies, leashes, bowls, beds, toys, and more at major discount chains instead of pet supply stores or pet boutiques.
- Practice good preventive care: Take your pet for a full checkup at the vet yearly. Waiting until your dog gets sick before rushing to the vet can be costly. What should have been a $100 routine visit may end up in a $1,000 trip.
It's worth it
Making sure you can afford a dog is important since the last thing you want is to get attached to your new companion and then realize that you aren't able to meet their needs within your budget. Even though pets could be expensive, they're worth it. That special welcome look you get from your dog when you get back home is priceless.