The cost of owning a pet
When considering getting pets, most people tend
to not focus on the amount of money they will have to dish out to
keep their furry, slimy and scaly friends happy and healthy. But
with few exceptions, pets are not cheap.
Barnfield, communications officer with the Toronto Humane Society, says that when
bringing pets to the Humane Society, people mostly give excuses such as moving
or having developed allergies. "But just because money isn't mentioned as
often doesn't mean it's not the underlying reason," she says.
Here's what you should bear in mind about short-
and long-term costs when thinking of getting a pet:
You probably can't buy a purebred puppy or kitten from a reputable
breeder for less than $1,000, and it will probably be closer to
$2,000. A great alternative is to get an animal from your local
SPCA or Humane Society. At The Toronto Humane Society, cats are
$25, dogs are $50, rabbits are $20 and the smaller animals vary
between $4 and $65. A real plus is that animals from the Humane
Society are up to date with their vaccinations, which can otherwise
cost $200 or more.
you get your pet, you will have initial costs -- such as $50 for a bird, hamster
or rabbit cage. Dogs and cats are even more expensive, because in addition to
getting them vaccinated, you need to buy toys, bones, a leash and a litter box.
As far as caring for animals
goes, typically, small ones will cost you less than large ones. You may pay about
$50 a year on food for a budgie and about $100 a year for cat food. For a medium-sized
dog, expect to pay at least $400 a year for decent food.
your dog or cat to the vet twice a year is the minimum Barnfield recommends (that's
if nothing's wrong). Barnfield, who has three dogs and three cats, says you should
be financially prepared for additional visits to the vet, and she says the minimum
you should expect to pay per visit is $150.
guardian of a pet is a lifetime commitment. Some small breed dogs can live 15
to 20 years and cats can live 15 to 25 years." Barnfield says to think about
how much you will spend regularly on food and care for your pet and multiply that
by how long your pet will likely live. If you're thinking of getting a parrot,
for example, then you should know they live between 40 and 80 years.
Barnfield considers buying premium food an investment.
She likens pets eating cheap food to people eating fast food every
day. She says pets are more at risk for health problems if they
eat cheap food.
If you only want the basic
grooming for your cat or dog, it's worth investing in a nail clipper and brush
-- you can get each for less than $15 -- or you can pay for grooming. Barnfield
warns that if you aren't having your pet professionally groomed, you should ask
your vet to educate you about how to do it properly before you attempt it.
You typically aren't allowed to travel with pets on busses, but
can often bring your pet on planes and trains. Depending on the
size of your pet and its cage, on a plane, it will likely cost you
at least an extra $40 for one-way travel; on the train, you'll probably
pay at least $10. If your pet is small enough, you may be able to
take it as carry-on, for free.
about travelling with your pet, keep in mind that pet accommodation on trains
and planes aren't first-rate, so you may consider leaving your pet with a caretaker
When Barnfield and her husband go on vacation, by
plane, they figure out how much their trip will be, and then factor
in how much it will cost to have the dogs stay at their "play
care group" (she says she'd never put her pets in cargo because
she doesn't think it's good for them). She pays $75 a night for
each of her three dogs to stay at Toronto's Urban Dog Fitness and
Spa. Of course, leaving your pet with a trusted family member or
a friend is a good (and usually free) option, too.
other animals, dogs can't be left alone for more than about seven hours at a time.
Susan Rupert, of Urban Dog Fitness and Spa, says there are some people who don't
realize what they're in for when they get a puppy. "Once they get dogs, they
have to start looking at services to manage if they have a full-time job,"
she says, giving examples such as dog-walking or daycare.
an experienced dog-walker costs between $15 and $25 an hour.
truly unexpected costs
Pets, and particularly outdoor pets, will likely
get themselves into a few emergency situations in their lifetimes, such as your
dog eating a dead bird and becoming seriously ill, which would require that you
see a vet immediately.
If the emergency occurs outside your
vet's regular hours -- and, for some reason, it usually does -- you can expect
to pay at least $100 just to see a vet at an emergency clinic. And any kind of
blood tests and medication are extra.
Dafna Izenberg, of Toronto, had a cat named Mama for three
years. Unfortunately, Mama got sick, and Izenberg paid her vet almost $5,000 over
the course of six weeks to try to save her life. She finally made the difficult
decision to put her cat down because she realized that Mama was suffering.
wish that I had called it quits earlier," says Izenberg, "not only because
she was suffering, but also because it was a lot of money." Izenberg says
she'll consider buying pet insurance if she gets another pet. For more information,
check out Bankrate.ca's story about pet
She advises that when people get pets,
they should not only think about the regular and short-term costs, but also about
the costs that will likely arise as the pet gets older. Even if your pet doesn't
get sick in her old age, you can expect to dish out more cash than you did for
her when she was younger. Just as older people need to go to the doctor more often,
so do older animals.
Maya Saibil is a writer