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January 04, 2022

How much does your pet cost each year?

Like re-enacting Michael Jackson’s autopsy for TV, pet ownership always seems like a better idea ahead of time.

Surely, getting a dog, for example, can provide lifelong companionship and loyalty, and one is surely a better investment than a cat, whose distant lack of personality might ultimately leave owners feeling cold (cue the cat defender comments below).

But that’s what a pet is, after all – an investment. Making the initial purchase is only a fraction of how your total costs will shape up, so we ask: how much do you pay for your pet each year?

MSN’s Liz Pulliam Weston has done a nice job detailing the economic perils of pet ownership in this piece, though one data set from the American Pet Products Association sticks out.

According to the group, U.S. pet ownership in 2010 broke down like so:

-- Food took up 38 per cent of a pet’s total cost
-- Vet care took up 27 per cent
-- Supplies and medicine took up 23 per cent
-- Grooming and boarding took up 7 per cent
-- Buying a pet took up just 5 per cent

Pretty sobering stats. Think about them for a second; if these same measures applied to, say, buying a car, the initial vehicle purchase (call it $25,000) would be dwarfed by what you’d be putting into it in gas ($190,000), maintenance ($135,000) and car washes ($35,000) annually.

That’s a crude comparison, yes – and, certainly, if applied to children (whose purchase price is often zero dollars, depending on how many Jäger bombs you may have had to buy on the night of conception) this evaluation would be even more remarkable – but it does well to highlight just how much of pet ownership, unlike most areas of consumerism, lies in the back end.

Presuming you’ve already purchased your dog, cat, bird, fish or otherwise, do the above percentages stack up to you? How much would you say is being spent on food, vet care and the like each year for your pet?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...