There’s no denying that cats and dogs make their owners very sentimental.
One piece of evidence among many others: one in four pet parents say that they would have to give them at least $1 million to permanently give up owning a little furry creature. And half of pet owners say no amount would be enough to make them accept such torture, revealed a cross-Canada survey from Rover, an online platform on which you can buy or sell services for animals.
The very existence of the American giant Rover – which is worth almost US$2 billion and whose shares are traded on the NASDAQ – clearly demonstrates the scale of the industry which has developed thanks to the love of pets. . For $50 to $65 a night, your dog can sleep in a stranger’s home while you’re on vacation. Babysitting a bored dog costs $20 to $40 per day. People also offer to walk dogs or visit cats all over Quebec. The site works a bit like Uber, Turo or Airbnb.
This type of expense is added to all the others, more or less avoidable: food, grooming, vaccines, sterilization, litter, toys, education, medicines, licenses, lark. According to Rover, a dog costs $460 to $3,140 per year, while a cat will eat up $350 to $1,380 from the budget.
The financial product comparator HelloSafe, for its part, estimated a few days ago that a dog will cost on average $3,020 in 2024. This is a jump of $570 in three years (+ 23%) which is explained by widespread inflation, strong demand for all animal-related products and services and a shift towards better quality care.
The price of food particularly hurts pet owners’ wallets. Some (32%) go so far as to reduce their own grocery bill to feed their cat or dog.
In the case of larger dogs who eat a lot, the bill can reach $4,605.
This trend of increasing costs has significant consequences on household budgets. Before adopting an animal, careful and realistic financial planning is therefore essential.
But as a general rule, Quebecers “significantly” underestimate the annual maintenance costs of a cat or dog, notes the Association of Veterinary Doctors of Quebec (AMVQ) based on a recent Léger survey.
Cat owners, for example, plan to spend $869 on their pet in the next year. Veterinarians estimate the bill to be at least $1,069 for a cat kept indoors, and $1,384 for a cat that wanders outside. When we include dental care, various screenings and quality wet food, among other “extras”, the sum reaches $3,000.
To get an idea of the costs before adopting, the AMVQ has prepared useful sheets.
If you can live well with the current expenses generated by your pet, you are never safe from a terribly emotional dilemma when your kitty or pitou is struck by cancer or another serious illness. Do we pay $4,000 for the procedure or have our little treasure euthanized? “We discuss costs at all stages. We are asked about life expectancy, chances of survival… It’s constant negotiation. We talk a lot about money,” veterinarian Michel Pepin told me.
One solution to having peace of mind is to ensure the health of your pet, which costs money.
Insuring your four-legged companion
Despite the significant increase in costs generated by pets, only 2% or 3% of cats and dogs in Quebec are protected by insurance covering illnesses, accidents and sometimes preventive care. This would compare to 35% in the United Kingdom and 80% in Sweden, according to the Association of Veterinary Doctors of Quebec (AMVQ). “Here, things haven’t really changed for years, even though we talk about it a lot,” reports Michel Pepin, veterinarian and spokesperson for the AMVQ.
According to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, the Canadian pet insurance market has experienced an average growth rate of 17% in the last five years, but we were starting from almost nothing. The organization also reports that dogs represented 86% of premium volume in 2022. This makes sense, since health problems are more common in dogs.
A handful of companies offer insurance, including CAA and Costco which offer Pets Plus Us policies. Desjardins and Sonnet have developed their own products. Petline sells insurance called Petsecure, while Trupanion prides itself on being the only company in the world to offer direct payment at the veterinarian’s counter.
Comparing all of these products is no easy task, unfortunately.
Premiums vary greatly depending on the age and breed of the animal, as well as the amount of the deductible chosen (sometimes, the deductible is imposed). The level of coverage and another key element. Policies covering preventative care are much more expensive since they will inevitably attract claims.
At Desjardins, you will have to pay, on average, from $37 to $136 per month for a dog. Cats are less expensive to insure: from $26 to $87 monthly, on average.
At CAA-Quebec, the average monthly premium is $63, all animals combined. After 12 years, the $9,000 mark is crossed. It’s still not cheap.
In some cases, a medical evaluation at your own expense is required to uncover potential pre-existing health conditions, which are excluded from coverage for obvious reasons. Claims generally work in the same way as group insurance for humans: you go online and submit your invoices.
It’s difficult to say whether pet insurance is financially advantageous. Option consommateurs and Union des consommateurs have not analyzed this type of relatively new product. As is the case with home insurance, you can very well pay for years… just to have peace of mind, which you always discover later.
The basic principle being the pooling of risks, some animal parents will necessarily lose and others gain.
Before insuring an animal, we must above all question our risk tolerance and our financial capacity to deal with a bill of several thousand dollars, suggests Sylvie De Bellefeuille, lawyer and budget advisor at Option consommateurs. “What is often underestimated,” she adds, “is the unpredictability of health costs. »
CAA-Quebec, which has been offering pet insurance for less than two years, advises getting a few quotes and carefully comparing coverage and exclusions. In the case of breeds prone to a hereditary disease, “it is better to insure your animal as early as possible, when it is young and healthy. It will be much cheaper,” says Dominique Larouche, insurance expert at CAA-Quebec.
“Being insured frees up a budget for more advanced, more specialized medicine,” argues veterinarian Michel Pepin. He gives the example of the care provided by oncologists and orthopedists, brain scans, surgeries for hip prostheses. So, if we are keen to offer the best to our animal, insurance is an option to consider.
Regardless of the total cost associated with your dog or cat, it seems that the return on investment is fantastic and even incomparable. According to Rover, 84% of owners say their pet brings them more happiness than anything else that costs them money.