How to budget your pet costs for the whole year

The beginning of a new year and major life events, like switching jobs or buying a new home, are great moments to review your budget … or make one for the first time. Be sure to include all costs related to your four-legged friend in your calculations. This way, it’ll be easier to set aside enough money to cover pet expenses as they arise throughout the year, instead of having an unexpected bill cause you financial stress. Here’s what you should consider.

Source: All estimated costs below are based on The Annual Cost of Owning a Cat and The Annual Cost of Owning a Dog by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

Routine veterinary care costs

Veterinary care makes up the largest portion of the annual cost of owning a dog, with an average of $1,350. Keep in mind this amount can vary depending on your dog’s size and breed; big dogs may require larger doses of medications, while some dog breeds can be genetically more prone to specific health issues, requiring additional visits.

Veterinary care for cats is slightly less expensive, with a $1,148 yearly average.

Dog food and cat food

On average, a dog will consume $1,132 worth of food per year, usually making it the second-largest expense for most owners. These costs can vary greatly depending on your dog’s size (and appetite!), whether you’re feeding them raw or dry dog food, and how much you pay for these ingredients or products.

Because of their small size, cats require much less food than most dogs, with the average owner spending $544 per year.

Other pet expenses

Your dog will likely need a yearly license from the city, and you may need to replace a lost or damaged collar, as well as any toys that have been thoroughly chewed and irreparably destroyed during play time. Plan an average of $145 per year for such items.

Cats also need all of the above, with a yearly average cost of $60 (since items designed for cats tend to be smaller and cheaper to produce). They also need litter, and plenty of it. Cat owners spend an average of $195 per year on litter, bringing the total for other expenses up to $255.

Should you get pet insurance?

In case of disease or accident, pet insurance will cover most of the unexpected costs to care for your cat or dog. If you don’t get pet insurance, consider setting aside an amount similar to the insurance premium as an emergency fund. Pet insurance costs an average of $1,097 for dogs, and $595 for cats.

Putting it all together

Considering all of the above, the average annual costs add up to $3,724 for dog owners and $2,542 for cat owners. Adjust depending on your pet’s specific needs, and divide this amount by 12. The result is how much money you should save each month to cover your pet costs for the whole year. Consider setting up automated transfers to a separate bank account, according to your pay schedule, to make saving easier.