The scene is so common, it’s cliché: Your adorable child looks longingly into your eyes, begging for a pet. You somehow navigate the emotionally fraught minefield of cat vs. dog. Then it’s time to talk chores. Who will walk that dog? Who will clean that litter?
Promises are adamantly made, of course. But you may not have considered talking with the family about the bills associated with a furry new addition.
Those bills add up pretty quickly. Statistics Canada says Canadians spent $6.6 billion on their pets in 2014. That’s $580 per pet owner every year. The Toronto Humane Society says having a dog can cost as much as $1,000 a year. So, here’s a handy list of ways to keep those costs down.
1. Start-up costs
Getting a pet doesn’t have to break the bank. Some breeders can charge thousands of dollars for a puppy. That may make sense for you and your family, but it’s not the only option. There are countless rescue programs, plus the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society.
Tegan Buckingham, communications manager at the Toronto Humane Society, says adoption fees run between $200 and $400 for a dog and between $60 and $100 for a cat.
“Here at the Toronto Humane Society, your adoption fee includes the spay-neuter surgery of the animal, the vaccines of the animal. It also comes micro-chipped and it’s had a full overview from a vet,” she says.
2. Do your homework — and shop around
A recent episode of CBC’s Marketplace found that pet care spending in Canada soared between 1997 and 2009, according to Statistics Canada. The episode warned some pets are being over-vaccinated, and that those costs can add up quickly.
Financial writer Kerry K Taylor has made a career out of finding ways to cut costs. And whether it’s taxes, investments or getting a pet, she says a bit of research before you start can make a big difference.
“Before getting a pet, go in and see the vet, compare prices,” she says.