How Much Owning a Dog Actually Costs
Man – and woman’s – best friend has always been the loyal and oh-so-lovable family dog. From morning walks to evening snuggles, many animal lovers would argue that the greatest companion you can have is a pet of your very own. A 2014 study revealed 57% of Canadian households own pets, with an estimated 5.9 million dogs calling our country home. There’s no question that the love of a family pet is worth all the responsibility and cost that comes with it – but what exactly are those costs? We’ve crunched the numbers, and with our furry friends’ approval, are breaking down the cost of owning a dog in Canada in 2019.
Routine veterinary costs: $609 per yearWhile each year of dog ownership will come with a different vaccine schedule – some standard and some unique to your dog’s needs and medical requirements – the Ontario SPCA notes the costs of a puppy’s first year vaccines, fecal exam, deworming, micro-chipping and heartworm medication is a total cost of approximately $609.
Preventative care and routine veterinary visits are vital to keeping your dog healthy and ensuring a long and happy life ahead for your pet. Choosing to skip veterinary visits or forgo recommended treatments may put your pet’s quality of life at risk and potentially cost you more financially in the long-run.
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One-time veterinary costs: $200 to $500Some veterinary costs for your dog – such as spaying or neutering – will be one-time costs in your pet’s life. While the cost to spay or neuter your dog will vary based on factors such as sex, age and size, amongst other things, most Canadian resources on the subject agree that pet owners should anticipate the cost to range anywhere from $200 to $500.
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Dog training: $150 to $250 per training packageThe reality is: most (if not all) first time pet owners will benefit from the guidance and expertise of seasoned animal trainers. Beyond the basic commands you might expect, the right dog training classes will work equally hard to educate the owner as well as their pet. Remember that pet ownership is a relationship above anything else; and that your interactions and communication style with your dog will have an immense impact on how you and your pet co-exist.
While the cost for dog training in Canada can vary greatly across the board, the Ontario SPCA has some great tips for finding the right trainer and estimates group training classes with six to eight sessions included can run you between $150 and $250.
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Food: $619 per yearFrom grocery store brands to specialty foods, your dog’s food costs will be a major factor in your annual pet expenses; and one that can vary, depending on factors like brand, quality and of course, the specific nutritional needs of your dog, based largely on their size. For the first year of your puppy’s life, the Ontario SPCA tells new owners to expect the annual food cost to be upwards of $600, give or take, depending on the size of your dog.
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Pet accessories: $200 per yearFrom collars and dog tags to the proper leash, water bowls, dog bed and toys for your new furry friend, we can (very conservatively) assume you’ll be spending at least $200 per year on these pet accessories.
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Pet license: $25 per yearIn the city of Toronto, all dogs must be licensed and wear a tag. Outside of this being the law, it’s also just good common sense. By registering your pet and ensuring they sport the required tag, you’re ensuring the best odds of a safe and speedy return should your pet ever get lost. This municipal license requires annual renewal and comes at a cost of $25 for dogs who are spayed or neutered and $60 for those dogs who are not. For pets who qualify as service dogs, this fee is waived.
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Grooming every two months: $552 per yearThe American Kennel Club recommends you have your dog professionally groomed once a month, but for pups with medium-length hair, once every two months should do it. The cost here varies as you look from basic pet store groomers to upscale pet salons, but to give you an idea we got a base quote for a full bath, haircut and style service from PetSmart for a medium-sized dog with medium to long hair. Their quote was $92 for a single visit – not including any nail trimming or additional services.
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The grand total: $2,547 per yearWe’ve tallied the approximate base costs for everything on our list for a grand total that rings in just over $2,500. Of course, nearly every cost on this list varies, and there are certain expenses, such as kennel boarding and travel fees, that might be additional considerations, depending on your lifestyle and travel habits. Not to mention, the unexpected costs that you can’t anticipate, but should definitely be prepared for.
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Unforeseen costsWe got in touch with Toronto-based veterinarian, Dr. Barbara Alexandre, for her thoughts on the unexpected costs of pet ownership. She says, "Pet ownership and care is more than just cuddles and walks. People need to understand that it’s a lifelong commitment that unfortunately, involves financial expense as well. Owners need to be prepared, whether it be by getting pet insurance or putting money aside for eventual health care costs.”
She adds, “Aside from the unexpected health issues that can and will come up in the lifetime of an animal, in the first year alone, a responsible pet owner will have to visit the veterinarian several times to get their pet properly immunized, dewormed and hopefully spay or neutered. Each subsequent year they should expect costs associated with annual exams, wellness blood testing and parasite prevention."
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