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Unnecessary pet expenses

Unnecessary Pet Expenses
Canadians currently own a total of 8 million dogs and cats. According to Statistics Canada, there are approximately 3.5 million dogs and 4.5 million cats in the country. About half of all households have at least one pet, and pet owners are spending an average of $300 per year on their pets.

Here are 4 expenses that I find are totally unnecessary for most pet owners:

Toys: Pet toys are absolutely a total waste of money, in my opinion. If you want to give your pet some toys to play with, why not make your own? My dogs love when I tie old socks into a big knot. They will chew on those things for hours! If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own stuffed toys for your dog. Try this easy dog bone.

Grab a tennis ball and go play fetch with your pooch. Frisbees are another great toy that dogs love.

As for cats, well, they will play with just about anything! My cats love empty water bottles, newspaper, boxes and reusable shopping bags (they love to run in and out of them when they are left open and on their sides).

One easy, do it yourself, cat toy is a crumpled foil ball. Simply wad up a piece of aluminum foil into a ball and toss it to your kitty. Cats love crinkly, shiny things, so this will keep them entertained for awhile.

You don’t need to buy all the fancy schmancy over-priced toys from the pet store when it’s so easy to just make your own!

Clothes: Unless you’re Paris Hilton and have buckets of money to spend on your pets, you don’t need to buy them clothing. Come on, now. That’s just ridiculous!

The prices of pet clothing (which is mostly for dogs) is outrageous. $35 for a t-shirt, $60 for a costume, $30 for a dress. Give me a break! That’s more than I would spend on myself for those items.

I understand that dogs with small amounts of body fat, or those with health problems, probably need to wear a jacket of some sort when they are out in the cold – but dressing them up just because is absolutely mind-boggling to me.

If your dog doesn’t NEED clothing, and you don’t have the money to spend on it anyway, then eliminate it from your shopping list and save your cash for something more important.

Grooming: Many cats don’t need much grooming – just a good brushing of the fur every few weeks, a wipe of their face every few days (if they have long fur) and cleaning of the ears every 2 weeks or so. Surely you can handly that yourself and don’t need to shell out any money for a groomer. Right?

As for dogs, well, they need a bit more care. There’s nail trimming, bathing, ear cleaning and fur brushing. That can add up real quick if you get it all done by your local groomer.

The ear cleaning and fur brushing can easily be done at home, but the other two are a bit more of a hassle and many people would prefer to take their dog(s) to a groomer.

The average price for bathing a medium sized dog is $40.
The average price for nail trimming a medium sized dog is $20.

I must admit that I have never clipped our dogs’ nails. I tried it one time and was too terrified of cutting them that I made Richard do it – and now he refuses to cut Maggie’s nails because she is psychotic and likes to bounce all over the place to avoid getting her nails clipped (Richard cut her by mistake one time and she has been terrified ever since). So now I have to learn how to do it, because there’s no way I’m shelling out the $40 a month my local groomer quoted me. Luckily I found this great article titled “How To Cut A Dogs Nails Without The Blood, Sweat and Tears. I think it’s definetely going to help me.

Bathing your dog is a relatively easy process. There are many great articles about how to properly bathe your dogs, but the gist of it is: put them into the bathtub, pur warm water over his/her coat, massage the dog shampoo into their fur and then rinse it all off. Ta da!

You can manage that, right?

Pet insurance:
Unless you have an elderly or sick pet, insurance is something that isn’t worth spending your money on.

Pet coverage can cost you $2000-$6000 over the life of an average pet, and the chances that you’ll ever need to cough up that much cash for treatment are slim. Remember, that amount is for each pet that you own. We currently have 3 cats and 2 dogs. That means our average pet insurance would cost $10000-$30000 over the course of our animals’ lives. I highly doubt we would spend anywhere near that amount on treatments.

I really do believe in emergency funds for any type of emergency, and this includes our animals. If one of them gets sick and they need to go to the vet and the bill ends up being $250, that amount comes out of our emergency fund – because that trip to the vet was an emergency, not a planned visit.


  1. Cal

    I used to pay to get my dog’s nails trimmed (after a bad experience for her and me clipping them myself) but then I read about using a dremel tool to keep them short. Works very well, very quick and the dog doesn’t mind at all.

  2. Lori

    We had an English Bulldog puppy and that dog definitely required insurance – Haha. For pet insurance, I think you might indeed get your money’s worth IF – and it’s a big IF, you have a high risk breed and you paid a lot of money for your pet and IF you compare the prices for pet insurance. PC Financial was impressively competitive if memory serves correctly.

  3. Cassie Howard

    Lori – I totally agree that pet insurance is a very good idea if you have a high risk dog. I would definetely compare prices before though.

    Cal – Great tip, thank you! We were just at the vet recently and she showed us how to clip their nails easily: hold their paws backward (can’t really explain it, but that’s what she did) and you pretty much clip the nails upside down. the vet showed us and WOW, it was done in like 3 minutes. So we are going to try it that way next time and see how it goes.

  4. Kelly

    I wish I had gotten Pet Insurance for my dog. Everyone told me it was a waste of money. All of a sudden my dog had an acute allergic reaction and almost died. All her work needed to be done at an emergency ER and it costs thousands. Plus she needed to see my regular vet every 2 weeks. You always hope nothing will go wrong but it always can.

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