Budgeting for your Pet

Big or small, your pet depends on you for his/her complete lifetime care. Having a clear budget plan for your pet can help reduce anxiety and avoid frustration during times of need or emergency. The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association has published the following costs of caring for an adult 40lb dog to be approximately $2000.00 and approximately $1500.00 for an adult 10lb cat. These estimates include all needs for a pet including food, housing, grooming as well as veterinary care. These costs are higher in the first year of life, estimated at almost $3000.00 for a puppy and almost $2000.00 for a kitten.

Consider the following areas when budgeting for your pet:

Home Comfort

Basic essentials like pet bedding, dishes, crate or enclosure, litter box, toys and other day-to-day necessities need to match your pet’s current needs. Depending on your pet’s size, life stage, activity level or health requirement, it may be time for some items to be adjusted or replaced. Understanding your pet’s current needs before purchasing items will help you focus on the right products for your value and avoid getting distracted by the rainbow of choices.

Proper Nutrition

This can be the most confusing area in your pet’s basic care. Labels and advertising may not always tell you everything about the quality or how the food matches your pet’s needs. Feeding your pet a healthy diet means taking the time to understand your pet’s specific nutritional requirement. Discuss with your veterinarian regarding your pet’s specific and current nutritional requirement. Learn about pet food testing and feeding trials for specific life stages and conditions. Understand the risks associated with feeding a raw meat diet. Proper nutrition that matches your pet’s current health condition can give you the best value in the long run.

Routine Healthcare

Your pet benefits from preventive health care visits as they are invaluable in detecting early disease signs. Your family also benefits from your pet’s routine check-up because certain parasites can be tested and treated earlier to prevent transmission to humans. Routine healthcare includes physical exam, core vaccines, fleas/ticks/heartworm protection, fecal testing and parasite control. Your pet may also benefit from other vaccines depending on lifestyle and exposure to other pets or wild animals such as raccoons. Blood screening, blood pressure assessments and urine testing are also important tools used to detect early signs of disease. Professional dental therapy helps your pet’s overall health. Puppies and kittens require a series of booster vaccines, deworming and parasite control. Planning their orchidectomy (neuter) or ovariohysterectomy (spay), as well as microchip implantation, are part of routine first year costs. Senior pets benefit from a check-up every 6 months. Routine care can vary depending on your pet’s age and genetic predisposition. Discuss openly with your veterinarian so you can budget accordingly.

Illness, Injury and Emergency Care

We all wish that our pets remain healthy forever. The reality is pets get sick, injured or may require emergency care. Pets with chronic illnesses or injury may require long term care, continuous medication, follow-up exams and tests. During these events, many of us are caught by surprise with how quickly the bill can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Planning ahead for these situations will make it less challenging when our pets need our help the most. Having pet insurance is a good idea and you can budget for the monthly fee. Be sure to carefully review your insurance policy details to know exactly the requirement and limitation of your coverage. If you do not have pet insurance, consider setting up a savings account or line of credit for emergency situations. The trick is to have discipline and maintain more than enough funds in the emergency account at all times.


Depending on your pet’s breed, fur type, temperament, and current health condition, grooming needs to be carefully considered. Many pets require you to budget for professional grooming and some pets may need sedation to be groomed. If your pet allows, you may be able to provide bathing, trimming nails, and brushing teeth at home. Ensure to purchase products formulated specifically for your pet. Human products can cause health risks to your pet.

Exercise and Socialization

Select good quality toys that won’t be ingested by your pet or cause harm. If you have an energetic dog and your time is limited, consider doggie daycare or hiring a dog walker to keep your dog comfortable and out of costly trouble at home. Puppies as well as adult pets can benefit from training sessions, socialization, and behavior consult to prevent future issues.

Travel/Lodging Arrangement

There may be times when you have to either travel with your pet or leave your pet in the care of others. A sturdy pet carrier appropriate for your pet’s size is generally best. During day-to-day car travel, there is also the option for seatbelt attachments for dogs. As part of your preparation when planning to go away, find out the all the costs associated with lodging your pet or travelling with your pet. If your pet is travelling to another country, confirm specific regulations for that country. Consider hiring a pet travel specialist to handle the intricate details. If you decide to leave your pet with a friend or family member, discuss what to do in case of emergency. Your friend or family member needs to have a clear idea of what is expected and how much you will agree to spend if your pet requires immediate care.

Municipal or Government Requirement

Check the pet licensing details for your local area. Most municipalities require annual license renewal for each pet. There is usually a lower fee for pets that are sterilized (neutered/spayed) and electronically identified with a microchip.

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