Prospective Pet Owners: Prepare for thousands of bills before bringing home a furbaby

The pandemic led to an increase in pet ownership, but new parents planned ahead

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Maybe it’s those incredibly big brown eyes. Or how excited they are to see you, even if you only left the room for a minute.

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Yes, you are definitely in love with your new pup. What you don’t love so much are the bills that came with it.

Many Canadians are still dealing with it and it’s only getting worse. The pandemic has left Canadians all alone in their homes, leading to an increase in cat and dog adoptions.

Three in 10 Canadians adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to a 2021 Ontario SPCA and Canadian Tire survey. Additionally, 31 percent of these adopters were first-time pet owners. This increase in pet ownership comes with a cost.

“Having that information before you get distracted [by your new pet] is really important,” says Dr. Maggie Brown-Bury, Newfoundland and Labrador representative on the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) Council. “This is an expense that will be permanently added to your life.”

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how much do we talk

According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), the average annual cost of caring for a puppy is about $4,600, dropping to about $3,700 for a dog. It costs about $3,100 to groom a kitten and about $2,500 for a cat. Those costs are more than just pet food and toys, says Kathy Duncan, director of national programs for Humane Canada.

“The first year of ownership tends to have higher costs because there are usually higher vet bills and initial vaccination series,” says Duncan.

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In 2020 alone, Canadians spent over $5.7 billion on their pets, according to the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada. That was up from $5.4 billion a year earlier, and it’s still rising. And it’s not just because of inflation.

“There’s a continent-wide vet shortage,” says Duncan. “…and as a result, the prices of veterinary care have gone up.”

Please investigate

Both Duncan and Brown-Bury say the best way to prepare for the costs ahead is to do some research well before launch. Costs can vary wildly, so it’s important to consider everything before bringing a pet home.

“You need to make sure you’re prepared for unexpected expenses, at least it’s an emergency visit,” Brown-Bury says. “People spend like $3,000 on a purebred puppy and that’s it, they’re out of money.”

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An emergency visit alone can cost anywhere from $250 to $400, Brown-Bury says. Duncan has heard of young dogs needing abdominal surgery after eating a toy off the floor and owners paying thousands of dollars as a one-time expense. For this reason, pet owners should consider pet insurance, which Duncan and Brown-Bury both have for their pets.

“Now my dog ​​is diabetic for the rest of her life… 90 percent of that money is covered every time I refill her prescription,” says Brown-Bury. “To me it’s totally worth it.”

Of course, research also means looking at the breeds themselves. Does a dog live longer than others? Are they known for certain health issues? It’s important to figure out how much risk you can take before bringing a pet home.

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Prevent future costs

While there aren’t any tricks to cutting costs, there are ways to avoid making major expenses. This starts with yearly investigations that can identify problems before they become serious and costly.

“Some people don’t go to the vet until they’re sick,” says Brown-Bury. “It costs you more money in the long run. If you go to the annual exams, you will understand things sooner.

Another way to avoid these emergency expenses is to prepare for your pet before they get home. This means dog or cat proofing your home, enrolling them in training courses, and having an emergency fund. Having an emergency fund is crucial, especially if you don’t have pet insurance.

The fund can also be used to pay for other unexpected costs of keeping a pet. Some of the costs that many owners may not consider are licensing, maintenance, and local vaccines needed in your area such as B. Rabies.

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Know where to get help

Brown-Bury and Duncan don’t believe potential pet owners should be put off by the cost of owning a pet. In fact, some areas of Canada have programs for low-income families who need pet assistance. Groups like the Farley Foundation are helping low-income Ontario pet owners subsidize non-elective surgeries. There are also mobile spay and neuter clinics dedicated to supporting low-income families.

Developing a good relationship with your veterinarian can also lead to potential savings. Showing up regularly for events like vaccinations and checkups can help you build a better relationship with your vet, who may be more willing to help you financially.

“Your vet may also have options for you because they know you,” Brown-Bury says. “They might be willing to work with you and find something out.”

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So why get a pet at all?

For some, the mental benefits of having a pet can outweigh the financial costs. One study found that just watching a dog can reduce stress. Now, a decade-long study has shown that owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks. Whether cat or dog, their presence can reduce stress by increasing oxytocin levels.

And while an emergency fund is good to have, Brown-Bury says the potential for an emergency shouldn’t stop you from adopting a pet in the first place. It is important that future pet owners are simply prepared and do not simply take an animal home carelessly.

“The biggest thing I find as a veterinarian that people aren’t prepared for is the emergency costs, but also just realizing the long-term costs,” Brown-Bury says. “And that’s something you really need to be prepared for if you want to be a pet owner on a budget.”

This article is informational only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without any guarantee.

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