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The True Cost of Pet Ownership in 2023

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From coast to coast to coast, Canadians love their pets. All you need to do to prove this point is take a walk down any residential street. It won’t be long before you see somebody walking their dog or a cat peeking out at you from a window.

We all know that owning a pet is expensive and that living in Canada is expensive. But what happens when you combine the two? We are writing this article to ask ourselves one question and one question only — what is the true cost of pet ownership in Canada?

We compiled the data. Whether or not it changes your mind on adopting a cat or a dog is your own decision. Because let’s be honest with ourselves — even if the answer to this question was “$1 million”, would that really deter any of us from owning pets? Or would we just frantically start Googling how we, too, could make at least $1 million per year? Probably the latter.

What Kind of Pets Do Canadians Own?

Contrary to what you might have seen in the movies, it’s not polar bears. In fact, according to a recent survey, the pet you’re most likely to own in Canada depends on where you live.

According to this survey, Quebec tends to be the most cat-loving province, with 67% of residents owning a pet cat there. In British Columbia, dogs are more in favour, with around 66% of people owning a pet dog. In Atlantic Canada and Ontario, residents seem less decisive, with the split between cats and dogs being about 50/50.

Older research from 2009 was also able to shine some light into the Canadian pet situation. It started that just over half (56%) of all Canadian households have at least one cat or dog, with cat only households being the slight majority. The survey also stated that 12% of Canadian homes own fish and 2% own hamsters and rabbits. 1% of homes have “other” pets — frogs, turtles, lizards, and even horses.

Average Cost of Owning a Pet

The pet industry has continued to grow with around 8.5 million cats and 7.9 million dogs being held as pets in Canada for 2022. This might come as a shock to some, but for pet owners, it’s no surprise. In 2020, 58% of Canadian households owned a pet. and an estimated 4.2 billion was spent on pet food in the same year. Bonkers. Pet food seems to only be getting more expensive. The Association of Veterinary Medicine in Quebec (AMVQ) maintains a handy list that outlines the average cost of pet ownership. They state that the average cost of owning a dog is $3,394.07 and the average cost of owning a cat is $2,321.25 for an indoor cat and $2,413.33 for an outdoor cat.

Cost Break Down

If we can expect the cost of pet ownership to be in the thousands every year, then where exactly is this money going to? We scoured the internet to unearth the average costs associated with some of the most common pet items and services. Below is an overview of the cost of dog ownership and cat ownership on an annual (or one-time) basis.

Small Dog Medium Dog Large Dog Cat
One-Time Fees
Adoption $400 $400 $400 $295
Spay/Neuter $151/100 $170/$150 $210/$200 $107/$135
Training $300 $300 $300 -
Microchip $50 $50 $50 $50
Emergency Vet Visits $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Monthly Expenses
Food $1,200 $1,300 $1,500 $600
Pet Insurance $450 $450 $450 $350
Toys/Treats $360 $360 $260 $120
Litter - - - $20
Grooming $600 $600 $600 -
Annual Fees
Routine Check Ups $200 $200 $200 $150
Dental Visits $300 $300 $300 $300
Accessories (Bed, Leash, Collar, Bowl, Crate) $300 $300 $300 $200 $200
Vaccinations $200 $200 $200
Licensing $25 $25 $25 $10
Life Expectancy 15 13 10 15


Of course, the above number is a guide, not a prophecy. The price of everything varies across Canada, and monthly dog bills are no exception. In the most recent data that we could find (from 2017), vet fees for dogs were most expensive in Alberta and most affordable in Prince Edward Island. For cats, Ontario was the most expensive and Quebec was the least.

Plus, the costs to care for the same pet could vary depending on the year. There may be some years when your pet will only require routine care, and some years when every month seems to bring new health issues. Attributes like the age of your pet and your pet’s medical history will also impact your particular costs.

Another factor that will impact your costs is whether or not you have pet insurance. Some of the most common pet insurance providers in Canada include TrupanionPetsecure, and Pets Plus Us.

Final Thoughts

Like everything else enjoyable in life, owning a pet comes at a cost. And in most cases it’s not a small cost, either.

Fortunately, pet ownership is endlessly rewarding. Just try to remind yourself of those cozy cat purrs and relaxing dog walks the next time you’re met with a shockingly high credit card bill — it won’t hurt so bad.