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How To Budget For Pet Expenses


May 04, 2022 5 min read

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How To Budget For Pet Expenses

This blog post is sponsored by Fairstone, a responsible Canadian lender with almost 100 years of lending experience. Read our advertiser disclosure.

Bringing home a new puppy or kitten is a special occasion and a big financial commitment. So, before you bring home a pet, it’s important you know all the costs involved. You have a budget for your household, car and other monthly expenses, and you should have one for your pet too.

Knowing how much money you’ll need for pet expenses will help you plan your budget and be prepared for your new furry friend to join the household. From routine veterinary care and pet supplies to emergency care and unexpected vet bills, learn about all the costs of pet ownership and how to budget for pet expenses.

Initial Pet Expenses

Whether you’re looking to get a cat or a dog, here’s a list of the initial pet expenses you’ll need to budget for within your pet’s first year:

  • Purchase price or adoption fee

  • Registration and licensing

  • First veterinary visit (at 6-8 weeks)

  • 3 to 4 follow-up visits (between 6-16 weeks)

  • Preventative medications for fleas, ticks and heartworm

  • Vaccines

  • Spaying or neutering

  • Pet identification including microchip and tag

  • Water and food bowls

  • Collar and leash or harness

  • Toys

  • Bed, crate and barrier

  • Carrying crate

  • Grooming supplies

  • Obedience training (for dogs)

Tip: Some pet supplies such as crates, barriers and carrying crates can be purchased second-hand and, after a good disinfection, are a safe way to save money on initial pet expenses.

Basic Pet Expenses

According to the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, the annual average cost of caring for a puppy ranges from $4,589-$4,666 and the annual cost of caring for a dog is $3,724. For kittens, the annual average cost is between $3,091-$3,231 and $2,542 for cats.

Basic pet expenses include food and treats, hygiene and grooming supplies, and an annual wellness checkup and preventative medications.

Is owning a dog expensive?

Routine Veterinary Expenses

Routine veterinary care is essential to maintaining your pet’s good health. After the four-month visit, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian every year for a physical examination, dental check and preventative medications and vaccines.

Budgeting for your pet’s annual wellness checkup is important – veterinarians can often detect health conditions before any noticeable signs or symptoms. With early detection, many conditions can be managed or treated before they become advanced and more costly.

Now that you have an idea of the pet expenses you’ll need to budget for, add them all up and ensure there’s enough room in your monthly budget.

Can you get a loan to pay a vet bill?

Create a Pet Budget

First, determine how much money your pet’s routine veterinary care will cost. You may want to do some research on your particular pet, as the total amount will likely depend on your pet’s size, breed and overall health.

Once you’ve determined the total cost of your pet’s annual veterinary costs, the next step is to calculate how much money you need in your monthly budget to cover these expenses in addition to basic pet care costs such as food and treats, grooming supplies and preventative medications.

If you choose not to get pet health insurance coverage, it’s a good idea to plan on saving up more money than what you need for known annual expenses. 

While you may not want to think about your pet becoming sick, illnesses and injuries can happen at any time, and these unexpected pet expenses can hit your budget hard. Ask yourself: how will you provide your pet with the veterinary care they need when the unexpected happens? The answer is to plan ahead.

Start a Pet Savings Account

To prepare your budget for unexpected pet expenses, such as a medical emergency, figure out how much extra money you can afford to set aside into a pet savings account every month. Even if it’s only $50 a week, start with what you can – the money will add up over time and be a huge relief if your pet becomes ill or an accident happens.

You’ll have peace of mind before anything happens, knowing you’ve got funds readily available to cover your pet’s health care costs. Rather than dipping into your primary bank account or relying on your credit card to pay for your pet’s vet bills, you can pull money from your pet savings account to manage an emergency or other pet-related expenses without taking on debt.

How much does it cost to own a dog?

Unfortunately, no matter how much you try to prepare for unexpected pet expenses, the cost of emergency veterinary care can be expensive, and it may not be possible to cover a large vet bill right away. But remember, it’s important to keep your finances healthy too.

What To Do if You Get a Vet Bill You Can’t Afford

If your pet requires emergency veterinary care that you can’t afford, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan with your veterinarian. Some vet clinics offer repayment plans while others partner with a lender that you can borrow money from to finance some or all of your vet bill.

If a payment plan through your veterinarian is not an option, you may be tempted to reach for your credit card to pay for the bill. This may seem like a quick solution, but there is another borrowing option to consider.

Vet Loans

Taking out a vet loan (a personal loan used to cover vet expenses) can provide you with the money you need quickly, and you’ll benefit from a more structured repayment plan than you would if you pay with a credit card. With a vet loan, you’ll repay the money you borrow through a set number of affordable payments over your loan term, until the loan balance is paid off. Predictable, steady payments can be easier to manage in your monthly budget.

How much does it cost to own a cat?

We recommend our partner, Fairstone. With almost 100 years of lending experience in Canada, Fairstone has supported millions of Canadians through financial challenges with trusted guidance and responsible loan solutions.

Fairstone, offers quick personal loans for vet bills from $500-$50,000, and with a simple online loan process, you could have your money deposited directly into your bank account on the same day you apply – so you can ensure you beloved pet gets the care they need.

The Bottom Line

Part of being a responsible pet owner is ensuring your budget is prepared for all your pet’s expenses, and saving money for the unexpected, so you can keep your pet and your finances healthy.

How to Get a Vet Loan from Fairstone

Apply for a Fairstone loan in 3 steps:

  1. Get a loan quote – no obligation, no impact to your credit score

  2. Find out how much money you could qualify for in minutes

  3. Have your money in as little as 24 hours

Get a Loan Quote from Fairstone

Completing a loan quote won’t impact your credit score and there’s no obligation to take out the loan. In addition to finding out how much money you could qualify for, you can find out what your loan payments might be.

Get a Loan Quote

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Fairstone is a leading provider of responsible lending solutions, with a nearly 100-year legacy in Canada. As an operating subsidiary of Fairstone Bank of Canada, Fairstone offers personal loans and home equity loans to near-prime customers online and in more than 250 branches coast to coast. More at

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