By Leann Soon & Dr. R. Long

As we have all seen, the COVID pandemic has led to an explosion in pet ownership. While staying at home more can be a great opportunity to add a new, loving pet to your family, if you haven’t fully considered the true costs associated with your new furry friend, this could cause you a lot of head (and heart) aches if you’re not prepared. 

People rightfully expect unconditional love, lots of fun and interesting challenges from their pets, but they often don’t anticipate the costs required to keep them happy and healthy. Parachutes for Pets loves being a part of you and your pets’ lives, but recently we have received more and more requests to help cover the basic costs of being a pet owner, which is very concerning because if someone can’t afford a pet, these animals can be improperly cared for, neglected or given up for adoption.

We are here to help as much as possible, and one of the best ways is proactively – when bringing a pet home, you should consider all the costs associated with responsible pet ownership. The Chartered Professional Accountants Association of Canada estimates that Canadians spend $5.7 billion on pets every year, and a good base estimate of what a (7 kg) dog costs annually is $3,000, while cats cost approximately $2,000. These costs fall into three buckets: 

  1. initial cost (eg. adoption fees, what you pay your breeder, spaying/neutering)

  2. ongoing costs, such as annual check-ups and vaccinations, high quality food, insurance, all toys/activities they need to stay stimulated, leashes and collars, beds and crates, and pet insurance if you so choose, and 

  3. unexpected costs, like those from injury or illness, or unexpected boarding if you yourself are dealing with something. 

Initial Costs 

All three types of costs mentioned above vary with the size and type of pet, of course, and where your pet is from. For example, purebred dogs from breeders will cost more than a rescue adopted from an animal shelter or agency. The Calgary SPCA’s dog adoption fees are in the $250 to $575 range, depending on the breed and veterinary care the dog has already received, and cat fees range from $30 to $250. If you’re set on a purebred, you’re typically looking at over $1,000 for dogs… for some perspective, the most expensive purebred puppies currently, according to Prudentpet.com, are Samoyeds for $14,000 each! That’s not attainable for most people, but remember: that “free” puppy or kitten is never actually free… 

Ongoing Costs

As with upfront costs, ongoing costs vary as well, but in order of most to least expensive, the categories are:

  • Food

  • Insurance

  • Veterinary care, which includes annual check-ups and vaccinations, parasite control and routine dental care

  • Toys

  • Collars 

  • City license

However, within each category there can be huge variations as well – for example, if you choose wet food daily for your St. Bernard as opposed to kibble for your chihuahua, your bills would be very different! Insurance rates, which vary with breed, type of coverage and your risk tolerance, have been increasing as well – premiums range from $30 to well over $100 monthly, and this doesn’t even factor in deductibles!

Unexpected Costs 

Finally, we can plan and take care of our pets to the best of our ability, but they are bundles of energy and mishaps can always happen. If your pet gets injured, a vet visit could set you back a lot if x-rays, tests and overnight stays are needed. If they get sick, they could require medication or prescription food, sometimes for the rest of their life. 

We hope this information has been helpful in determining whether or not your dream of having a pet is feasible right now. Parachutes for Pets is here to help people who are going through a tough time stay with their pets, because we know how important they are; however, this is very different from paying for a pet that someone can’t afford in the first place, and we hope the people don’t find themselves in these positions.

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