How Much Does That Pet Cost in the Window?

Tax Tips & Advice

Dogs may be a man’s best friend, but the price of friendship can be a costly addition to any family.

According to British Columbia’s SPCA, dogs can cost a family $1,196 each year. This includes 12 bags of 18-kilogram dog food at $45, two boxes of dog treats per month at $3.99, a yearly visit to the vet for exams and vaccinations for $120 and other typical activities such as nail clipping and grooming. And don’t forget the one-time costs when you first adopt a dog which ranges from $290 to $520.

To tip the scales in favour of cat lovers, their feline companions aren’t as pricey, but $899 each year can put a bit of financial strain on a family. When you first adopt a cat, they can cost about $207 to $292.

Around Easter it’s tempting to own a rabbit, but maybe families should settle for watching the wild ones hopping in their backyard. Rabbits cost about half the yearly expenses of a cat at $449, but their initial costs can be about $125 more expensive at $332.

Basically, the smaller the animal, the lower the expenses in taking care of it. Guinea pigs cost $420 a year and have an initial cost of $160, while hamsters, rats and gerbils cost 225 a year and $143 when you first adopt them.

For a detailed breakdown of how each pet’s cost was calculated, visit British Columbia’s SPCA website. Unfortunately these costs don’t consider a few other fees owners may be hit with such as medical emergencies, a fence you might build for your dog or any obedience classes you enrol it.

If pet owners hope their furry friends are tax deductible, unfortunately, for most Canadians, they’re out of luck. Pets aren’t classified as dependents. Even if your dog faithfully guards your home from robbers creeping about, your four-legged friend can’t be claimed as home security. In the United States, pet owners have won court cases to write off the cost of cat food or any moving expenses involved when moving your pet from one residence to another, but those situations don’t apply in Canada.

Animals, and associated expenses, can be tax deductible in two scenarios:

  • if you’re the owner of a farm, but it only applies to livestock, which means any animals that are raised and kept under controlled conditions to make money
  • if the animal is specially trained to assist a person with a medical need or special disability.


Comments (13) Leave your comment

  1. …and you went and got my hopes up, you meanies! I have a dog and 5 cats, so wouldn’t it have been nice… 🙁

  2. The cost equation is a bit incomplete. Even ignoring the comfort and happiness our furry friends provide, there are economic advantages to keeping a pet (or having a pet keep us) including reduced costs for heath services, reduced depression (which has fiscal considerations and increased life longevity).
    One could argue that this latter factor might mean you get to pay the ownership costs for a longer period of time, but most would not argue with this increased expense.

  3. For the past several years, I have been fostering a couple of cats for a local animal rescue group and they cover the cost of food, litter, etc. through an in-kind tax receipt. I just keep all my store receipts, create an excel spreadsheet with the breakdown of cost and HST (which they appreciate) and at the end of the year submit everything. They are more than happy not to be out of pocket for anything, and I can claim a deduction on my taxes (which I’ve been doing for about 3 years). AND I have sheltered a couple of kitties from the outdoors. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.

  4. I don’t know where the BC SPCA get their costs from. Top quality kibble for a Dog cost more in the realm of $65 plust HST, vet visits for nail trims $15 a month, annual checkup $120 shots like rabies $65 a year. Now if you want to take it to the next level and have a Purebred that you want to show, the sky is the limit. $25 entrance fee for each show so a weekend costs $50 to $75 on average, and don’t for get the cost of travel, meals, hotel room so an average weekend show is a %500 weekend. Average cost of showing for a year is $7,000.00….Good luck I did it and to get championships in both Canada and the U.S. cost me $15,000.00 over 18 months. Dogs are not cheap, but their a lot cheaper than owning a horse.

  5. I did not like how the page was laid out. Why start off by telling us how much our pets cost and then say that most Canadians CANNOT claim their pets.

    Why not just do the bland, standard explanation that the government does and start off saying that Pets cannot be claimed unless they are working farm animals or working dogs for inabilities, Period.

  6. It’s a bit misguided to focus on the relatively minor cost of pets when people don’t seem to have even the most basic planning skills when it comes to the financial costs of human children. Then again, why bother when fellow taxpayers will cover the basics like education and health care. Common sense would dictate that there should be tax breaks for people who don’t have children and therefore consume relatively less in these respects, but we all know that will never happen under our socialist government.

  7. I do find it unfortunate that an animal kept to then be slaughtered is a tax deductions but one that you care for as a companion is not.

  8. If you have a home business you can claim reasonable expenses such as dog food and vet bills as an expense on your income tax under the heading of a guard dog for your business. You can’t claim guard dogs on your income tax for personal income tax. You must have a business to claim the guard dog.

  9. @Jen – The tax law is not that broad. It’s not allowed for all home businesses.

    The CRA was asked if the costs of animal food for guard dogs used to protect farm property were deductible against farming income. The CRA responded those costs were deductible because they were incurred to earn income from business. The CRA explained the cost of food for animals to safeguard farm property is a legitimate farming expense.

    The CRA’s response is specific to the deduction of animal food for guard dogs in a farming business. To find out if you can claim your dog as a business expense, you go to CRA tax court.

    The few tax court rulings on this matter suggest you are allowed to claim animal expenses if the animals were purchased and used solely for business purposes.

  10. I have 18 Cats from 6 week old to 14 year old
    my cost per year is 2200.00 to 2500.00 they live inside never go outside they only go to the vet if they get sick. they get a spoon or wet cat food twice a day 6.00 am and pm a dry treat in the morning around 9.00 and one at night between 8.30 and 9.30

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