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About one-third of Canadian households have dogs, but while these beloved canines may bring a lot of love to a home, that love isn’t free. 

Owning a dog can be very expensive, which is why would-be pet owners should create a budget first, to make sure they can comfortably handle all the bills they’ll have to pay throughout the life of their furry friends. 

Read on to find out the cost of owning a dog, from one-time, upfront costs to ongoing expenses you’ll incur each year. 

Starting Costs Of Owning A Dog In Canada

Having a dog comes with continual expenses, but you should have a lump sum of money readily available to cover initial costs when you first bring home your pet, such as the following:

ExpenseOne-Time Cost
Buying your dog$200 – $2,500
First visit to the vet  $300 – $500
Medication for heartworm/flea/tick prevention, deworming medication$250
Microchipping$60 – $70
Spay or neuter$200 – $600
Food and treats$30 – $100
Training and lessons$250 – $600+

These costs can range quite a bit, depending on the dog’s breed and size, as well as the type of products and food you choose to provide for your dog.

Monthly Dog Costs In Canada

After you’ve spent a few hundred (or thousand!) dollars when you get your dog, you’ll need to budget for some ongoing expenses. Consider the following monthly costs of owning a dog:

ExpenseMonthly Cost
Food and treats$30 – $100
Pet insurance$60 – $170
Grooming$40 – $60
Doggy daycare/dog walking$30 – $300

Again, the type of products and care you choose to provide your dog will determine exactly how much you spend each month. 

Total Annual Costs Of Owning A Dog In Canada

Understanding how much you’re spending on your dog on a monthly basis is helpful when creating and following a budget. But it’s also useful to understand what you’re spending every year, relative to your income and other expenses. The following chart outlines the total annual expenses you can expect to pay to own a dog:

ExpenseAverage Annual Cost
Food$360 – $1,200
Pet insurance$720 – $1,160
Vaccines, wellness checks, and various tests$650
Dental cleaning$743
Grooming$480 – $720
Flea and tick prevention$60 – $250
Total$3,113 – $4,823

Can You Finance The Cost Of Owning A Dog? 

Ideally, you’ll have budgeted accordingly before getting your dog to ensure you have the funds needed every month. Or, you could start an emergency fund to have available whenever a big bill comes up. Pet insurance can also potentially save you some money in the unfortunate event that your pet requires a costly medical procedure.

But there may be other financial options available to you if you need some help covering the costs of caring for your pet, including the following:  

Credit Cards 

If you have a credit card in your wallet, you could use it from time to time to cover some of the costs of owning your dog if you don’t have the cash available. 

If you pay a high rate on your credit card, try your best to pay down the outstanding balance before the next billing date to avoid paying more than necessary in interest charges. But if you’ll be carrying a balance month to month, consider taking out a card with a low introductory rate to keep your interest charges as low as possible.

Personal Loans

If you have an unusually high bill to pay, you could apply for a personal loan to get your hands on the funds needed to cover this cost. Personal loans are usually unsecured, which means you don’t have to come up with any collateral to back the loan. But because of the lack of collateral, your interest rate could be higher. 

Be sure to compare lenders and loan offerings before applying.

Should You Get Dog Pet Insurance? 

Vet bills are usually very expensive, especially when more advanced tests and diagnostics are required. And if your dog ever requires surgery, you could be looking at thousands of dollars per procedure.

Pet insurance is designed to help cover these sky-high expenses. Like any other type of insurance policy, pet insurance requires that you pay a monthly or annual premium, along with a deductible. You can then have various vet costs covered by your policy to help offset the expense. 

Having said that, pet insurance is optional. If you choose to buy a policy, you’ll need to budget for the premiums. You should also understand what is and isn’t covered by pet insurance.

What Is Covered By Pet Insurance?

Pet insurance policies cover anywhere from 70% to 90% of eligible expenses, which means you have to cover the rest. You will also have to pay a deductible before your policy kicks in. Generally speaking, the higher the deductible, the lower the premium costs, and vice versa.

How Much Does Pet Insurance Cost?

While vet bills are usually some of the more expensive costs associated with owning a dog, pet insurance can also be very expensive. You could easily spend up to $2,000 per year in premiums. You’ll need to decide if this cost is worth it just in case your dog requires costly treatments at some point, or if you should put that extra $2,000 away each year and use the funds only if required. 

Consider the premium cost, deductible, and what’s covered versus what isn’t before buying a policy.

What Does Pet Insurance Cover? 

The following items are typically covered by a pet insurance policy:

  • Accidents. If your dog is involved in an accident and requires emergency surgery, your pet insurance policy should cover it. 
  • Illnesses. Pet insurance typically covers vet care to alleviate various ailments your pup may be suffering from, as long as it’s not a pre-existing condition. This includes treatments for cancer and other serious conditions. 
  • Dental emergencies. Treatments required to treat an injury or illness related to your dog’s teeth or mouth should be covered by your plan.
  • Prescription medications. Any medications prescribed by the vet to treat a medical condition that is diagnosed after the policy has been purchased are covered.

What Isn’t Covered By Pet Insurance? 

Pet insurance does not usually cover any of the following, which means you’ll still have to cover the associated vet bills:

  • Regular exams. A routine wellness check at the vet will not be covered by your pet insurance policy.
  • Pre-existing conditions. If your dog is already suffering from a specific medical condition before you buy a policy, the insurance will not cover vet care or medications associated with the ailment. 
  • Elective treatments. Procedures that are not required to maintain your dog’s health — such as spaying, neutering, declawing, and cosmetic procedures — are usually not included in a pet insurance policy.
  • Dental cleaning. Regular dental wellness appointments are usually not covered. 
  • Treatment for vaccine-preventative ailments. There are several vaccines that are available for dogs. If your pet suffers an ailment for which there is a vaccine, like kennel cough, the treatment costs may not be covered.

Best Pet Insurance Companies

ProviderDeductibleReimbursementCoverageCoverage Limit
TrupanionPaid per condition90%– Illnesses
– Accidents
– Genetic conditions
– Medications
– Diagnostic testing
PetPlan CanadaPaid per condition or annually70% – 90%– Medication
– Diagnostic testing
– Non-routine exams
Up to unlimited
Petsecure CanadaPaid per incident80%– Surgery
– Hospitalization
– Genetic conditions
– Diagnostic testing
– Medications
– Dental care
Up to unlimited
Pets Plus UsPaid annually70% – 90%– Surgery
– Genetic conditions
– Diagnostic testing
– Medications
– Medical devices
Up to $15,00/year0
CAAPaid per accident or annually80% – 100%– Veterinary services
– Dental care
– Alternative therapies
– Medical devices
– Prescription food
Up to $4,500/year

How Much Can You Save With Pet Insurance? 

Having pet insurance may or may not save you money, depending on the issues your dog encounters throughout its life. Having said that, even seemingly minor issues can lead to soaring vet bills. But with a pet insurance policy in place, much of those bills can be covered.

To help you understand how much you could potentially save with a pet insurance policy in place, let’s illustrate using a couple of examples.

How Much You Can Save With Pet Insurance On Minor Issues?

Let’s say your dog suffers an ear infection, bladder or urinary tract infection, and intestinal upset at some point throughout the year. These incidents will require their own individual trips to the vet, potential diagnostic tests, and medication to treat them. Your dog may also have swallowed a foreign object, which requires yet another vet visit and even an x-ray to ensure the object isn’t sharp or doesn’t pose a threat to intestinal obstruction.

How Much Do Minor Issues Costs?

Let’s break down the costs associated with these scenarios:

  • Four separate vet visits: $200 to $1,000
  • Urine culture: $25 to $100
  • Blood work: $100 to $200 
  • X-ray: $150 to $250
  • Medication for ear infection: $20 and $110 for 1 week’s worth
  • Medication for bladder infection: $250 

How Much Will You Save? 

On the lower end of the spectrum, you could be paying $745, while on the higher end, you might be dishing out as much as $1,910. 

Depending on how much you’re paying in premiums for pet insurance, it may or may not be worth it. As displayed in the chart above, the average annual cost of pet insurance is anywhere from $720 to $1,160. In this case, you may save a few hundred, break even or even lose money, depending on how much you pay for insurance and how much your vet bills are. 

How Much You Can Save With Pet Insurance On Major Issues?

But the above scenarios are the typical minor issues that you may encounter with your dog. On the other hand, there are much more serious — and expensive — issues that your dog could face at some moment in its life, such as a heart condition that requires life-long medication, cancer that necessitates expensive treatments, or accidents that require surgery.

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), one emergency surgery can be as much as $10,000, depending on the procedure and the location. Most Canadian pet owners don’t have that kind of money readily available, leaving them with some tough choices. 

In these situations, your vet bills will be exponentially higher compared to the minor issues described earlier.

How Much Do Major Issues Costs?

Let’s break down the rough costs associated with some of the more significant health issues:

  • Intestinal obstruction treatment: $800 to $7,000
  • Cancer treatments: $500 and up for each surgery; $400 to $600 for each chemotherapy treatment 
  • Surgery after an accident: $2,000+ to repair for a simple leg fracture

Depending on the issue and the depth of the treatment required, you could easily spend thousands of dollars in a year giving your dog the care it requires. In this case, pet insurance can certainly save you quite a bit of money. 

How Much Will You Save? 

For example, if your deductible is $200 on a plan with a reimbursement rate of 90% and your dog needed a $5,000 emergency surgery, you would save $4,320 ($5,000 – $200 = $4,800; 90% of $4,800 = $4,320). If your annual premiums added up to $1,000, your final savings would come to $3,320. 

Based on these examples, pet insurance could come in handy for more expensive vet bills, but may not provide you with much savings for more minor issues.

Other Factors That May Affect The Cost Of Owning A Dog

There are several other factors that could dictate how much you might pay to care for your dog throughout the year, including the following:

Dog Breed 

Your monthly and annual costs to own your dog will depend on its breed. For instance, larger breeds will require more food than smaller breeds, which translates into a much higher food bill. 

Different dog breeds also come with their own genetic health issues that could lead to expensive vet visits and treatments. For instance, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are notorious for developing hip dysplasia, while Boxers and Irish Setters have a higher incidence of cardiomyopathy. The treatments required to deal with these health issues can be costly.   

Dog Sitting/Dog Walking Services

These days, more and more Canadians are working from home. If that’s you, your dog will love you for it. But for others who are away from home for hours on end, leaving their pooch behind can be tough, especially for larger breeds that need the exercise.

In these cases, you might consider leaving your dog at a doggy daycare to get the company, attention, and movement needed throughout the day while you’re at work. Alternatively, you can hire a dog walker to pick your dog up once or twice a day to get your pup outdoors and moving around. 

Either way, these services cost money, which you’ll need to budget for. 

Final Thoughts

There’s nothing like the love of a dog, but having a furry friend in the house is certainly not cheap. Over the long run, you could be spending thousands of dollars. 

Considering the significant financial commitment required, you’ll want to make sure you have the means to give your dog the proper care it needs. Take the time to crunch the numbers and budget accordingly before you commit to adding a dog to your family.

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same.

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