That doggie (or cat) in the window

Financial planning is a ‘big picture’ assessment of how to stay financially healthy and achieve your life and retirement dreams through your lifetime. But sometimes, it’s the little things – the things you don’t see right away – that can drive you to financial distraction. Things like the real costs of owning a dog or any other pet, for instance. Even that cute little ‘free’ puppy or kitten comes with a hefty – and ongoing – price tag.
Statistics Canada1 estimated that in 2009, nearly half of all Canadians were pet owners and their average personal expenditures for veterinary and other services was $2,149 and $3,296 for pet food. Those expenditures are undoubtedly higher today. In fact, the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) 2 estimates that the annual cost of caring for an adult forty-pound dog (including the need for vaccines, vet exams, food, and other regular expenses) is $2,150.50 and the annual cost of caring for an adult ten-pound cat is $1,598.83.
That’s beyond the one-time costs of pet ownership for ‘non-free’ pets. For example adopting a dog or cat from a shelter and buying collars, toys and so on – one-time cost of a dog, $290-$520; one-time cost of a cat, $27 - $2923. Buying from a breeder will cost you considerably more – as much as $1200, depending on the breed.
Even small pets bring significant annual expenses3: Rabbit -- $449; guinea pig -- $420, hamster, rat or gerbil -- $225. And what if your pet becomes ill and requires expensive treatments?
Add up your costs over the life expectancy of your pet (dogs -- up to 18 years, cat -- 20 years, gerbils, fish, birds and other small critters -- much shorter) and it’s easy to see the need for a comprehensive ‘pet budget’ that fits with your overall financial situation and budgeting. Failing to do that can have a detrimental impact on your cash flow, personal plan and dreams.
General budget items include:
  • One-time costs: cost of pet; basic equipment purchases such as a collar, leash, food dishes and toys; spaying, neutering, micro-chipping/tattooing and licensing fees.
  • Ongoing costs: food and treats, vet checkups, grooming and vacation pet-sitting or boarding.
  • Emergency costs: if your pet develops allergies or other medical problems.
Yes, you can put a price tag on that pet of yours – but it’s more than worth it because you wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, you just need to find the best way to cover your pet expenses and meet every other objective in your financial plan. Your professional advisor can help you stay off a too-short financial leash.
1CANSIM table 381-0023, Input-output tables, final demand, detailed level, basic prices -- http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/pick-choisir?lang=eng&p2=33&id=3810023
2 Fifi, Fido & Finances, the Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat in 2012, Ontario Veterinary Association -- http://www.ovma.org/
3 The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BCSPCA), Costs of Care -- http://www.spca.bc.ca/pet-care/adoption/5-steps-to-adoption/cost-of-care.html
This column, written and published by Investors Group Financial Services Inc. (in Québec – a Financial Services Firm), and Investors Group Securities Inc. (in Québec, a firm in Financial Planning) presents general information only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell any investments. Contact your own advisor for specific advice about your circumstances. For more information on this topic please contact your Investors Group Consultant.

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About the Author

As a Regional Director at Investors Group it is my mission to grow the Okanagan Region of Investors Group. I help recruit, train and develop Consultants at Investors Group. I am always looking for professionals that would like to be their own boss and enjoy the training, support, rewards and compensation for being a successful Consultant. Also ensuring that we continue to be involved in the community in which we live.

As a Financial Consultant it is my passion to serve clients by giving them full financial planning advice. This includes investments, insurance, retirement & estate planning and tax reduction strategies.

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Contact Karen by email at:  [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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