It’s great to shower your dog with affection. But when that affection takes the form of expensive treats and frequent visits to the vet, it can take a toll on your wallet.

Moneris Solutions Corporation, Canada’s largest credit and debit processor, announced in April that Canadian spending increased by 3.31 per cent during the first quarter of 2013, compared to the same period last year.

Most notably, the report found that pet owners continue to spend on their furry friends as pet stores saw the greatest spending increase within the specialty retail category.

Here’s how to spread the love with minimal impact on your financial situation.

Don’t Overindulge On Treats Or Accessories

spend less on your dogWalking into the pet store, you’re bombarded with tons of different choices. Organic or smoked? Chewy or crunchy? As hard as it may be to fight the urge to buy a couple of the most pricey options — your bottom line will thank you. While you may have grown to believe this, your pet doesn’t need five different types of treats at home at any given time. While it’s fine to overindulge once in a while, let moderation be your normal mantra. As for accessories, beware the impulse buys.

Opt For Homemade Food (at least once in a while) 

Making an extra piece of grilled chicken at dinner and throwing it in the blender — along with carrots and flaxseed — makes a quick, cheap and healthier dinner than store-bought dog food. Choosing to do this even once in a while will mean that you’ll have to buy less (pricey) dog food. A good option is also to make less of this: let’s say half a piece of chicken — and mix it in with pellets. Your pet will appreciate the variety and you’ll feel good knowing you’re spending a little less on food. Plus, you can rest assured the ingredients are good for Fido.

Don’t Raise A Princess

As the owner of a princess, I can speak from experience: Once precedence is set, it’s hard to break. If you’re spoiling your pet from a young age — as with a child — they are going to start expecting the same treatment over the many years of their life. One way to remedy overspending on products for fiercely cute puppies is to envision the total amount of money you’re spending in one year and to multiply that by 15.

Keep Your Pet Healthy

The importance of regular exercise cannot be stressed enough. As with humans, when you don’t care of yourself, it’s likely going to translate to being sick more often and paying more visits to the doctor. But since your pooch isn’t covered by a provincial health plan like you are, be proactive about their health. While you don’t have to walk everyday, be sure to get them moving a couple times a week. Even small steps such as taking the time to play fetch in the backyard can make a world of difference.

Select The Dog Breed That Matches Your Pocketbook

All breeds are different. Some require low-maintenance, while others demand lots of attention, both financial and otherwise. Many breeds, for example, will need lots of regular grooming. And to get that perfectly coiffured look, it’s going to cost you. Be sure you work out the financial commitment that comes with the breed you have in mind before bringing Fido home. While this sort of research is available online for specific breeds, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian or breeder so that you can crunch the numbers in advance.

Vanessa Santilli

Vanessa Santilli

Vanessa is a Toronto-based journalist and freelance writer. She’s a regular contributor to, where she writes on all topics money-related. A graduate of Ryerson University’s Bachelor of Journalism program. Visit her website at or follow her on Twitter