Frugal Living

Dog Expenses You Need To Explore Before Owning

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How Much Does It Cost To Own A Dog In Canada?

So you want to become a dog owner? Let me take you on a tour of what it takes to own a dog and the dog expenses involved.

One of the most important things you can do is research dog expenses to see if they fit into your monthly budget.

There are other things you need to understand before becoming a pet owner such as dog care, availability, lifestyle, insurance, medical costs, and lots more.

I want to explore everything I can to help you become an informed owner to limit dog expenses that you didn’t know about.

Let’s go…

Oh, and I’m adding in stories througout the post from CBB fans who wanted to share their experiences as owners including dog expenses.

dog costs

A Pet Budget Is Crucial As A Dog Owner As Is The Love It Deserves

Recently our son has asked us if he could have a dog or a cat in our house which we knew would eventually happen.

Our little guy loves to play with the neighbour’s cat and he warms up to dogs only when we know the owners.

Ever since he was a toddler his face would light up when he’d see a cat or dog and he’d sit and want to pet the animal.

The only problem with owning a cat for us is that both Mrs. CBB and I are allergic to cats.

Owning a dog can be very expensive! We have 4, 2 great Danes, a mastiff mix and a shitzu mix.

Our food bill is about $300/mth. Spaying and neutering can be very costly ( our last spay was $250 for our 95 lb great Dane…prices have gone up since then) yearly shots are about $100 with vet visit.

You’ll want to learn to clip their nails as that’s about $15/month.

You’ll want a quality dog food ( nothing you can buy at walmart or grocery stores) which can get expensive as well.

Also factor in the price of purchasing your dog as well. We have paid upwards of $800 for a dog.

You will want to find a vet that is familiar with your breed of dog as well.

Factor in emergency visits as well. Our last emergency vet visit was just over $300! – (Nancy T. CBB Fan)

Is It The Right Time To Own A Dog?

Since I’ve owned a dog in the past it made more sense to see if our son would be interested in a dog.

At this point, he is adamant that he wants a cat however that’s just not going to happen.

Both Mrs. CBB and I aren’t sure if we are ready to take on the responsibility as dog owners just yet either.

Owning a dog is not only costly but part of the family which means you have to prioritize them into your day.

Since we aren’t sure how this would play out I thought it would be wise to tap into how much it would cost to own a dog in Canada.

The importance of the costs based on our current monthly budget must fit otherwise it makes no sense to own a dog.

I’ve always said that you should never adopt or purchase a dog if you can’t afford to take care of them from start to finish.

They are not toys or animals that you just toss away when you no longer want the responsibility as a pet owner.

Take your time and carefully weigh out the options as to whether you can afford to own a dog before taking on the responsibility.

When I moved to Canada I brought my dog along with me which leads to many other costs I can talk about another time.

Put it this way, it cost me more money to immigrate my dog to Canada then it did myself.

Dog Size Matters

When considering purchasing or adopting a dog it’s important to understand that bigger dogs come with more costs.

Our dog was about 55lbs and the costs to feed him every month was around $50 for a bag from the veterinarian.

In the early years, we used to buy grocery store dog food however if you can spring for the good stuff from the vet, do so.

Just as quality food matters to humans so do pet food for our animals and many dog food products contain fillers.

If not find the best dog food that you can at the grocery store that meets your dog’s needs.

Dog Food, Coupons and Cutting Costs

Back when we had our dog there were coupons galore for pet food and pet treats that we did take advantage of.

Also, check online coupon apps such as Checkout51 along with any cashback websites such as Rakuten if you order dog food online.

If you have a PC Optimum card you may find the more pet food you buy the app will include it for bonus points.

The reason for this is that the app tracks your grocery purchases so Loblaws tries to help you save by offering points on products they know you will purchase.

There’s no shame in clipping coupons especially when it saves your monthly pet budget money.

You may even find that your local veterinarian has coupons for dog food and other products from their suppliers.

We have 2 dogs, brothers from different fathers so they look completely different and have different needs.

One is a jack Russel/chihuahua dad and the other is a golden retriever so you can just imagine!
Cost wise it’s vet bills, food bills, grooming bills.

We are able to eliminate costs for boarding because family will trade off pets when we go away.

I’ve bought a dog trimmer so I’m saving money there – he didn’t look so good the first few times I shaved him. However since I have him shaved down anyway why not do it myself.

I’ve paid for the trimmer already since it’s about $80 to have the store do it. I trim their nails myself so saving there.
Where we find it expensive is at the vet if something goes wrong or they get sick – regular upkeep of their shots and check ups should be ok.

I don’t agree with pet insurance – just put some away in a separate account each month, then if it’s needed it’s there.

Here is Phil I’ll attach a separate pic of Angus so you can see the difference in brothers!


This is Angus the dog!

Dog photo

How Much Does A Dog Cost?

dog costs ontario

Sometimes a dog needs a new home and owners offer the dog for free whether it is a puppy or full-grown dog.

Be aware that a free dog may come with many illnesses that you are not aware of and a potential money pit.

Any time you consider taking on a free dog always get the dog checked by your local veterinarian beforehand.

If the owner says they have paperwork that the dog is clear it doesn’t hurt to make a phone call to make sure the info is legitimate.

Whether you decided to adopt a dog from a shelter or a breeder the costs of buying the dog depend on a few factors.

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Purebred vs. Mixed Breed

You’ll likely pay more for a puppy than you would a dog who has 10 years of life experience.

Ideally, once you know what breed of dog you’d like then you can budget accordingly to pay the full cost.

Rescue Pet and Foster Family Options

Puppy Costs

These dogs are already neutered and included in the adoption fee you will get your pet vaccine ready, microchipped, and dewormed.

Rescue dogs are those that have been abandoned by their owners and are now up for adoption.

We just got a rescue in April.

He is 4 and came all up to date with his shots and fixed.

We paid $420 for him and $100 every 5 weeks for food.

No grooming needed right now but will likely pay for his winter coat to get brushed out next year.

We had a bad experience with our other dog with a vet and found another who is amazing and doesn’t gouge.

This guy came pretty trained but classes usually start about $250 here in Alberta.

Huge responsibility without a doubt and lots of time required but totally worth it. – (April C. CBB Fan)

There are many dog rescue groups around Ontario as well as the SPCA that have dogs up for adoption.

If you’re still on the fence about adopting or purchasing a dog you could always participate as a foster family.

This will give you an in-depth look as to how a dog would fit into your family and lifestyle.

We have a friend who is a foster family for cats and she just loves this opportunity to give back.

Identification For Your Dog

  • RFID Microchip one time cost
  • Dog Tags required once a year

Microchip For Your Dog

After you get your dog microchipped you can pay $25.50 to store their information on the  Pet Chip Registry in Canada.

The cost to have your dog microchipped ranges upwards of $100 for the one-time procedure.

I had my dog microchipped in the UK and put into the national database when I moved to Canada.

Thankfully he did not go missing however I had that peace of mind that every pet owner should have.

In the last year, there’s been a lot of canine activity here.

We currently have a 16 year old Jack Russell, and had a senior rescue (family member passed) until her health declined to the point that we put her down in March (super stressful during lockdown)…her last day was her best day.

We also hosted a chocolate lab of my daughters for 8 months while she looked for accommodation.

Then my other daughter brought home a puppy Maremma sheep dog (which is huge).
Don’t kid yourself…they are a ton of work and $$$.

Don’t be fooled by sincere promises that the kids will be responsible, even older children are not quite there.

  • The pup (currently 75 lbs at 8 months) eats shoes and gnaws on furniture.
  • She eats $80 a month in food.
  • Flea meds, $120 for 4 months.
  • First shots and exam, $180.
  • Toys and walking accessories $250 (to alleviate chewing and get energy out).

Halti and cross body leash work best with large breeds.
Coming up August 5, spay, microchip and second shots. – $500.

The daughter who brought her home pays for food. But not the damage to the shoes etc. (Six pairs over the course of 2 weeks.)

The pup may need socialization classes to curb her anxiety over strangers (she is protective of me) probably due to pandemic restrictions (she is not exposed to a great number of people).

And a crate (approximately $200) for when everyone is back to their routine.)
But, of course, we love her. (Anne R. CBB Fan)

Jack Russell

Dog Licensing Fees

Dog license fees vary depending on where you live so if you’re not sure of the costs contact your local city hall or conduct an online search.
Below are the costs to tag a dog in Toronto, Ontario.
Pet/Tags Regular Fee Senior Citizen Rates
Dog (spayed or neutered) $25.00 $12.50
Dog (not spayed or neutered) $60.00 $30.00

In Toronto, if your pet is a service dog there are no fees involved for getting a dog license with the city.

If for some reason you need a replacement dog tag the city will charge you $5.00 plus HST.

Residents over 18 years of age with an income of less than $50,000 will qualify for subsidized or waived fees.

Veterinary Care

Depending on whether you plan to breed your dog you should consider getting your dog spayed or neutered.

By doing so you control the pet population where unwanted dogs are then put into care for adoption.

If you adopt a puppy you may find that the costs of being spayed or neutered to be included in the adoption costs.

However, if you do not and want the procedure to be performed on your dog the costs range from $500-$700.

It depends on who does the surgery and the costs involved in your community.

The Ontario SPCA Humane Society also has a 2020 Spay/Neuter Wait List for dog owners at a reduced cost compared to the veterinarian.

I have had my dog for just over 13 years. Responsibilities include daily walking, making sure her nails stay trimmed, brushing her out weekly so she doesnt shed so much, giving her baths, cleaning her ears and teeth to prevent infections.

As she has gotten older we have had to clean up a few accidents in the house and purchase things like dog stairs and a dog lift to help her get up and down stairs as she has arthritis.

She is currently on an anti inflammatory she takes twice a day and a needle we five her once a month for her arthritis.

We provide her with multiple supplements which I can list if anyone is interested and used to feed her a raw diet which did absolute wonders.

Over the past few months we have had to switch back to a grain free kibble which costs us about 80 dollars a month.

We have done ear flushing and teeth cleaning from the vet which required anesthesia. She also had emergency surgery which cost an arm and a leg. Lots of fun. (Jo-Ann T CBB Fan)

SPCA 2020 Costs to Spay or Neuter A Dog

Below are the 2020 SPCA fees to spay or neuter your dog.

Male Dog under 20 kg $125
Male Dog 20-40 kg $165
Male Dog over 40kg $200
Female Dog under 20 kg $150
Female Dog 20-40 kg $190
Female Dog over 40kg $225

Unfortunately, the problem is that you could be waiting a while based on the needs of other dogs ahead of your pet.

Local veterinary colleges may charge less to have your pet spayed or neutered so that’s another option to explore.

Keep in mind veterinary care is an entire host of procedures that will happen throughout your dog’s life.

Anything from annual check-ups, to dental care along with exams, vaccines, and deworming.

During your dog’s end of life, your veterinarian will also be there for you and you should expect further costs.

We paid around $1000 to have our dog put down and to purchase an urn and have him cremated on his own.

Read more hereThe Loss Of A Dog, Euthanasia costs, and Dealing With Grief.

Pet Insurance For Dog Owners

dog euthanasia

I know there are some dog owners out there that wish they had bought pet insurance when their dog was a puppy.

Don’t make the same mistake they did because for a small fee it’s worth covering the health of your puppy as it grows.

While searching online for Dog health insurance I was able to get a free quote through  Trupanion.

You pay a monthly premium to be covered for any unexpected illnesses or injuries throughout your dog’s life.

My biggest tip would be to stress the importance of purchasing pet insurance as soon as you get the dog. We made the mistake of waiting, I thought I planned to purchase at six months, but at 5 months ours broke his leg, costing us $3000. That was bad enough but then 2 yrs later, he broke the same leg again! – Pam W. (CBB Fan)

When you file a claim, they’ll cover 90% of eligible healthcare expenses for your dog.

You are responsible for any non-eligible expenses, your deductible, and the remaining 10%.

Unfortunately, when I brought my dog to Ontario he was too old to qualify for pet insurance.

 We ended up paying for his end of life costs and any costs involved with surgery.

Get a FREE dog quote from Trupanion

Dog Grooming

When you are looking for the right dog to adopt it’s easy to get caught up in all of that cuteness and forget about ongoing care.

Whether you are interested in a large or small dog grooming is essential if you want that coiffed look that stole your heart.

Costs to bring your dog to the groomers can easily add up each month depending on what your local groomer charges.

It’s always a smart idea to plan so you know how much the dog grooming will cost your pet budget.

Dental Care For Dogs

Believe it or not, brushing your dog’s teeth is a thing and it helps to keep their teeth healthy and strong.

Just as humans brush their teeth the dog owner should take the steps to ensure their pet has clean teeth daily.

Our dog had a few teeth pulled in his time and although the costs weren’t high the pain and inability to chew became apparent as he aged.

We would bake homemade peanut butter dog treats for him since they were softer than store-bought.

He loved them and through the advice of our veterinarian, we made sure that his basic teeth’ needs were looked after.

You’ll likely get a referral to a vet that specializes in dental care and oral surgery so it may not be your main vet for these procedures.

Dr. Hale who runs a dental and veterinary clinic in Guelph, Ontario details all of the tooth vet services he provides for dogs.

Guelph is the hub of veterinarians where students go to learn at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVN).

Not all cities offer these types of services so you may have to travel with your dog to have certain procedures performed.

Why do pets need professional dental care?
For the same reason that humans do. Their teeth are subject to many of the same problems that ours are. Traditionally, we left our pet’s teeth alone, and extracted them when serious problems arose. Today, we know enough to care for our pets’ teeth with regular brushing and inspection. But when your regular veterinarian detects a serious dental problem in your cat or dog, she or he may refer you to a specialist, like Dr. Fraser Hale. 

What can you do about your pet’s oral or dental health?
Plenty. The first step is to look in your pet’s mouth, on a regular basis. If the gums appear red or inflamed, if there’s a foul odour, if you see pus at the gum line or broken teeth – see your veterinarian right away. He or she will assess the problem and formulate a treatment plan.

Dog Supplies

There are plenty of dog supplies that you can purchase as you can see a detailed list below that has only scratched the surface.

Some of the dog supplies are necessary and others are nice to have or want to make things easier as a pet owner.

Toys For Dogs

toys for dogs

You can find dog toys at just about every department store and the Dollar Store in Canada.

If you’re looking for something specific Amazon Canada always offers tonnes of options.

I’ll link a few below and don’t forget to link up with Rakuten Canada before you buy on Amazon for MORE savings.

Responsibilities As A Dog Owner

There are two other things you need to consider besides your pet budget, lifestyle, and time commitment.

Considering your lifestyle before purchasing a pet is very important to the success of being a pet owner.

If you work long hours and can’t be home with your pet to let it outside or to go for walks perhaps it’s not a good time.

Also, consider whether you like to go on holidays often and who will look after your dog while you’re away.

They cost a lot in the beginning! We pay about $100 for grooming when we go. Also, one of the biggest challenges is that they make it hard to go away. If you don’t have someone to care for them, dog hotels can cost $60 to $100 per night. Just going away for the weekend can be a hassle and a big expense. Finding cottages that allow big dogs is hard plus then they charge more for the dog. Love our dog but it ties us to home. They also never grow up! – (Rebecca CBB Fan)

Boarding your dog is an option that comes with fees.

When we went on a short trip we were not able to bring our dog and our vet kept him in the kennel for $45 a day.

Keep in mind that’s not the best option but in emergencies, many vets have this service.

Ideally, you’d want to board your dog where he/she can run around and plan throughout the day.

Lastly, if you rent you should talk to your landlord about owning a pet before bringing one into your unit.

Aside from the direct costs, you have to also have a home that allows dogs. Renters will have a harder time or pay extra damage security, or you have to buy your own house. So the cost could be $100Ks just to have a suitable place to keep it. – (Desiree U CBB Fan)

Time Commitment As A Dog Owner

dog walking

Freedom for a dog is so important and why you should take your dog for a minimum of 2 walks every day.

  • Walk Your Dog
  • Feed Your Dog
  • Dog Training (if needed and another dog expense)
  • Play With Your Dog
  • Groom Your Dog
  • Regular Vet Visits
  • House Cleaning

Are you able to play with your dog? If the answer is no or not as often as you’d like then perhaps wait before becoming a pet owner.

Regular visits to the vet and grooming your dog is all part of the package as a pet owner.

Ignoring these types of visits could cause your pet to become ill costing you more money in the long-run.

Lastly, house cleaning as a pet owner is a must as dogs shed hair and it gets into everything.

We had to vacuum every day and at least twice a year I rented the carpet cleaner to give it a good clean.

If you are lucky to not have carpets your clean-up will be much easier but certainly must be done.

Keep in mind if you have any type of allergies to pet hair the importance of removing it and brushing your dog regularly.

Before You Buy A Dog

To end this post I want to say it may seem overwhelming with the amount you need to learn as a potential dog owner but it’s necessary.

The last thing you want to do is be that pet owner who needs to rehome a dog as it’s heartbreaking and difficult at times.

Be a responsible dog owner and create a pet budget and investigate whether you are ready to become a dog owner.

Discussion: If I’ve missed anything in this blog post please comment below and I’ll make sure to add it.

If you have any personal experiences you’d like to share about being a pet owner please comment below.


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  1. Further to my contribution above…
    And so, I just got the bill for the spay, microchip and booster shots. Everything all in, it’s $950 this afternoon.
    When I signed up on the wait list for the SPCA low cost, it was a year. The animals in their care are taken care of first, so the list could be longer and time waiting greater. It’s their mandate to look after animals in greatest need, so understanding that made my decision to use our local vet easier. I didn’t want to risk unwanted puppies.
    While I have a pet budget, this cost is being covered by my “allowance” and originally I had a quote for $500 for the procedure. I’ll look the bill over to see what other expenses (other than microchip and booster) to be aware of. I’m not overly concerned as I have found their prices on par with other vets in the past.
    It definitely adds to the “rescue” versus “breeder” debate. A $500 outlay for an unwanted pet from the SPCA is definitely less expensive. I’ve adopted my other dogs over the past 30 years and was not well informed to cost of a puppy.
    But…we love her. So there you go.

  2. One of our biggest expenses is our pets, especially our 3 dogs. Right before reading this article, I just spent $239.96 ordering dog supplies from Chewy. Our puppy is just transitioning from puppy to adult food, so I had to get adult food and I always make sure they have treats and antlers to chew on as well as Petrodex for their teeth and lots of toys. I always get them premium food and treats. I am hoping the premium food is paying off and I think it is because the vet was very impressed with how healthy the puppy looked when we took him in the last time. Still, it is painfully expensive to buy all the highly rated stuff.

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