In Canada it’s estimated that 35% of households have at least one dog and 38% have at least one cat – with all of these animals running around, this can be an expensive business. Millions of dollars are spent each year on pet care products and services in Canada. While food and medicine tend to be on-going pet expenses that many people budget into their monthly expenses, unexpected veterinary bills can pop up at any time.
If you’re facing a major vet bill and don’t have savings set aside, a pet care loan can help you make sure that your furry, winged or scaly friend gets the best medical help available. Read our guide to find out more about pet care loans in Canada and factors to consider when comparing your loan options.
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Representative example: Samantha needs to cover vet bills
Samantha is relocating to Northern Ontario. Her dog Spot hasn’t been to the vets in a while, and he is long overdue for at least three vaccinations – and she wants to get him neutered. She will also need to pick up two different medications to see him through mosquito season. She’s been told her total bill will come to $1,150.00. The cost to neuter her dog will be $250.00, the two medications come in at $350.00 and the vaccinations come in at $400.00 – and then she will have to pay tax.
Samantha doesn’t have this kind of money on hand right now – her big move up north has dwindled her savings down. However, since she will start her new job within a couple of weeks, she decides to take out a loan to cover the costs. Heading online, she compares both payday loans and personal loans. Since she has a decent credit score, she settles on a personal loan for $1,200.00, which will be repaid over 6 months.
Cost of vet bills
Interest rate (APR)
Origination fee of 3% ($36.00)
Total loan cost
*The information in this example, including rates, fees and terms, is provided as a representative transaction. The actual cost of the product may vary depending on the retailer, the product specs and other factors.
Factors to consider when taking out a loan
When comparing your loan options, consider these important factors carefully:
Interest rate. The interest rate you’re offered will depend on a few different factors including your credit score, the amount of money you wish to borrow and your ability to make your repayments. The lender you choose also makes a difference, so make sure you compare different lenders to find a competitive rate.
Loan amount and term. Only borrow the amount you actually need, since you’ll be paying interest on the amount you borrow. Some lenders may set minimum and maximum borrow limits, so make sure the lender you choose lets you borrow the amount you need. Loan terms will also vary between lenders. While a shorter loan term results in higher repayments each month, it can lead to big savings since you’ll pay less interest.
Turnaround time. If you need money in a hurry, limit your search to lenders who provide quick turnaround times. While some lenders can give you access to your funds on the day you apply, others can take 5-10 business days. That said, most lenders can usually disburse your funds within one business day.
Purpose of loan. Some lenders place restrictions on how you use your loan funds, only allowing the funds to be used for emergencies, diagnostics, surgical procedures and care of chronic pet diseases and conditions. Other lenders will allow you to use your loan for any legitimate purpose.
How much does it cost to take care of a pet?
Pets can be expensive and there are many costs related with keeping one. Here are some of the main costs:
Food. You’ll be spending between $120 to $1,000 on food every year, depending on the pet you have and the food you choose. Obviously, a dog is going to eat – and cost – much more than a hamster.
Routine care. Expenses in this area include money you spend on training, grooming, collars and leashes. These combined costs can cross the $500 mark.
Routine medical care. Veterinary exams can set you back $50 to $500 in the first year, with costs continuing for the lifetime of the animal. Spaying and neutering usually costs between $250 and $800. If you have a local Humane Society, there may be resources to find low-cost clinics near you. Flea and tick prevention costs can vary from $100 to $500 per year. Vaccinations cost $60 to $150 per year. If you’re getting health insurance for your pet, it could cost around $200 annually.
Medical treatments. Costs of emergency veterinary care can top $2,000, depending on the condition and required treatment.
What should I avoid when looking for pet financing?
As with all loans, you should typically avoid the following:
Don’t apply for multiple loans at the same time. Lenders will do a hard pull on your credit file, which means you could negatively affect your credit score if you apply for too many loans at once.
If you don’t think you can make your loan repayments on time, avoid taking out a loan in the first place. Look for alternative funding methods, like borrowing money from friends or family or tightening your budget.
Making late repayments can result in your credit score being negatively affected. Some lenders will report late or missing payments to the credit bureau.
Alternatives to pet loans
If you don’t want to take out a loan or can’t qualify for one, you may have other options, especially if you’re struggling to cover veterinary bills. Your options include:
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) or Humane Society. Your local SPCA or Humane Society may be able to connect you with low income spay/neuter programs in your province or territory. In addition, they can connect low income earners with veterinary hospitals who offer discounted services.
Local charitable organizations. There are many local charitable organizations in different provinces that help Canadians with financial hardships pay for their veterinary bills. Look into local organizations in your province or territory for more information.
Frequently asked questions
Much like applying for any other loan, you can usually complete the process in 5-10 minutes, provided you have all the required information on hand.
This will depend on the lender. Check the loan’s terms and conditions before you apply to see if any early repayment fees will be charged. If you’re unsure, contact the lender and ask directly.
To apply for a loan, you’ll need to provide your contact details and information about your employer and income. In addition, you’ll also need to provide how much you wish to borrow.
Elizabeth Barry is Finder's global fintech editor. She has written about finance for over five years and has been featured in a range of publications and media including Seven News, the ABC, Mamamia, Dynamic Business and Financy. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Communications and a Master of Creative Writing from the University of Technology Sydney. In 2017, she received the Highly Commended award for Best New Journalist at the IT Journalism Awards. Elizabeth has found writing about innovations in financial services to be her passion (which has surprised no one more than herself).
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