In a recent study by the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, the annual costs of pet ownership were determined:
Puppies first year: $3348
Kitten’s first year: $2217
Dog’s annual budget: $3051
Cat’s annual budget: $1817
These numbers seemed high, but when I ran the numbers for my own pets they were surprisingly accurate. The budget includes such things as premium pet food, toys, collars, cat carriers, cat litter, grooming, annual licenses and basic veterinary care including vaccines, annual wellness tests, preventive medications and spay or neuter surgeries. Instead of budgeting for veterinary heath expenses for medical or surgical care in sick or injured pets, they included premiums for pet health insurance. These run about $768 annually for a dog and $399 annually for a cat. Since a veterinary visit for an ear infection costs around $200, surgery to repair a fractured bone or a hospital stay for medical problems costs $2,000-$5,000; pet insurance is an economical way to budget for unexpected health problems.
There are some good ways to keep these costs down, and some cost-saving measures that backfire in the long run. Doing your own grooming, brushing your pet’s teeth, buying pet supplies wisely and keeping your pets lean and fit will go a long way in keeping your expenses down. Feeding lower quality pet foods may increase your vet costs by delivering sub-optimal nutrition. Adopting a pet from a shelter instead of purchasing expensive designer breeds will save you thousands of dollars and provide homes to needy strays. Skipping vaccines or preventive treatments like heartworm and tick medications and not neutering your pets may result in higher vet costs and serious medical problems. Keeping your cats indoors and your dogs leashed or under control will help reduce medical costs and may prolong your pet’s life.
Although veterinary costs may seem high, they are very affordable compared to the equivalent human procedures. You may be surprised to hear that your veterinarian’s salary is lower than your doctor’s, dentist’s, nurse’s and your kid’s teachers.
Veterinarians spend a minimum of 8 years at university. Veterinary hospitals are vey costly to run. Sophisticated equipment such as x-ray, ultrasound and laboratory machines are costly to purchase and maintain. Staffing and facility costs are high. And the hours worked by the veterinarians, veterinary nurses and support staff are often grueling.
It is important to make sure that you budget wisely so that your pets lead long and healthy lives without becoming a financial burden. We certainly hope that this information doesn’t discourage you from acquiring pets! They have so many wonderful benefits that make cost worthwhile.