A dog or cat isn’t a thing you buy, it’s a living being you adopt! Unlike a single transaction, adopting a companion involves certain ongoing responsibilities—and sometimes incurred costs. Here’s an overview of the expenses you should expect to incur to welcome a new member into the family as a source of happiness rather than financial stress.
Major decisions before adoption
Which breed is best for your lifestyle?
A dog’s breed affects its needs and, as a result, your daily life and your budget. Golden Retrievers take up a lot more space and food compared to a Yorkshire Terrier. Consider the size of your home, the proximity to outdoor spaces and, if you’re renting a condo or a unit, the applicable regulations.
Some dog breeds are more vulnerable to genetic health problems. For example, bulldogs and pugs are at higher risk of breathing problems due to their flat faces. Some medical procedures are also more expensive for large dogs, which require more anesthesia or medication.
If you adopt a cat, the ethnic differences and genetic health problems are minor. Cat breeds are generally distinguished by their aesthetic qualities.
Adopt from a breeder or a shelter?
Approaching a reputable and certified breeder by a recognized organization, such as ANIMA-Québec helps you find exactly what you’re looking for. If you don’t have a specific breed in mind, you may want to adopt a cat or a dog from a shelter.
Animal adoption and one-time expenses in the first year
How much does a dog cost? How about a cat?
If it’s a purebred animal from a breeder with a registration certificate or pedigree to back it up, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars—or even thousands.
Shelter adoption is usually less expensive, with its cost covering sterilization, the basic vaccine and parasite prevention. For example, Montreal SPCA fees range from $50 for an adult cat (5 years and up) to $525 for a puppy (less than 8 months old)1.
Basic veterinary services
The year after adopting a puppy involves at least 2 veterinary consultations: general examination and vaccines, vermifuge medicine, parasitic protection, microchipping, sterilization, etc. According to the Association des médecins vétérinaire du Québec en pratique des petits animaux (AMVQ) and the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA), these average starting costs would range from $1,0462 to $1,6873. This amount varies based on the animal breed, size and gender because it’s easier to sterilize a male than a female.
Kittens cost slightly less: anticipate between $7334 (according to the AMVQ, for an indoor cat) and $1,5195 (according to the OVMA). An additional charge applies for sterilizing a female, as well as adequately protecting a feline that will venture outdoors against fleas, ticks and other parasites.
Your companion will need plenty of items to serve them for years to come, such as collars, leashes, harnesses, brushes, nail clippers, bowls, carriers, beds, toys and a litter box for cats. Although the list may differ depending on what you find essential or not. According to the AMVQ, these basic purchases represent on average $2464 for a kitten and $2702 for a puppy.
Recurring pet expenses
This expense varies greatly depending on your animal’s appetite, level of activity and type of food. The average cost in the first year of having a puppy would be between $4462 and $9403, and for a kitten between $1864 and $5125. This amount will increase with time. Dry kibble is the most economical dish on the menu, but you could also serve canned food, fresh meat or cook your own recipes.
Some specially formulated foods that are more expensive may meet specific needs, such as weight management, or contribute to dental health.
Regular veterinary services
An annual visit to a veterinary clinic is required for health examination, analyses, booster shots and, if necessary, parasite prevention, scaling and dental X-rays. Anticipate $13503,6 for an adult dog and just under $11505,7 for a cat. Dental care alone can make up 40% to 60% of these amounts, so you could save a lot of money by regularly brushing your pet’s teeth!
It is recommended that you clean and change the litter approximately twice a week8. Thus, this is a significant expense for cat owners, estimated between $1337 and $1955 per year.
Licences for dogs or cats
Most municipalities require a dog licence, which is on average $30 per year. Some cities have similar regulations for cats, at a lower rate (between $10 and $20 per year). It’s way below the fine you’ll get otherwise (in French only)!
Emergency veterinary visit
Your animal may need additional veterinary consultations if it develops health problems that require treatment or medication. In the event of an injury or serious problem, you should expect to pay a higher price in an emergency veterinary centre than at your usual clinic. You are usually first presented with a cost estimate to help you make a decision or choose which care options should be prioritized.
All in all, welcoming a new family member is a happy event, but one that requires preparation, consideration and a budget adjustment accordingly.