Canadians are a nation who love their pets and almost 80% of Canadian households have some type of pet. While cats and dogs are the most popular choices for a pet, Canadians also own a wide range of other pets from frogs and snakes to guinea pigs and turtles.

Pets are an integral part of many Canadian homes and in this article, we look at pet ownership in Canada. You will find information on, for example, the most popular type of pet in Canada and unusual pets kept in Canada. We have also included key factors anyone considering a pet should consider.

Pet Ownership Statistics for Canadians

  • In 2021, there were over 28 million pets in Canada.
  • The majority of Canadian households, at almost 80%, have some type of pet.
  • Over half of Canadian households have a dog, cat, or both.
  • Canadians keep over 1.4 million wild animals as pets.
  • The main reason for not having a cat or dog, given by almost 60% of households, was not wanting one or the responsibility.
  • Around 20% of cats and dogs have been with their owner for ten years or longer.
  • Canadian pet owners take their dogs to the vet more often than their cats.
  • Microchips for pets cost on average $50 – $100.
  • Almost 80% of cats and 70% of dogs are neutered or spayed.
  • Only approximately 3% of cat and dog owners in Canada have pet insurance.
  • There are almost 2,000 pet stores in Canada employing over 22,000 people.

The Pet Population of Canada

In Canada, 77% of households own at least one type of pet. According to Statista, there were 28.05 million pets in Canada, up from 27.93 million in 2020. It is predicted that the number of pets will rise to over 28.5 million by 2025.
The most popular pets to own are cats followed by dogs. 23% of Canadian households have a cat, while 20% have a dog. 13% of households in Canada have both cats and dogs.

Fish are also popular pets in Canada with 12% of Canadian households keeping fish. Birds were found in 5% of Canadian homes, while only 2% of households had a rabbit or a hamster. Horses, lizards, guinea pigs, frogs, snakes, ferrets, gerbils, or turtles were kept as pets by 1% of households. Other types of pets were only found in less than 1% of homes.

However, the real pet ownership numbers may be higher. Some people may not report having a pet because they fear they could be caught without a license. It is also probable that some pets, such as certain exotic animals, are not reported because they are not legal in Canada.

What Are The Most Popular Pets in Canada?

Cats are the most popular type of pet in Canada. In 2022, there were around 8.5 million pet cats in the country. Cats are often a popular choice for people who cannot get a dog because of their living situation or because they prefer the more independent nature of cats. The number of pet dogs in 2022 was 7.9 million according to Statista.

Quebecers are more likely to have cats than dogs (at 67% compared to 48%), but in Northern Canada, British Columbia, and the prairie provinces dogs there are more dog owners than cat owners. In Ontario and Atlantic Canada, there is an even share of cat and dog owners.

Although the estimated number of pet fish (8.51 million) exceeds the number of cats and dogs, fish are only the third most popular pet in Canada as they are found in fewer households. Birds are the next most popular option after fish, and in 2021, there were approximately 2.51 million pet birds in Canada. The number of small mammals kept as pets was around 1.22 million in 2021 and the number of reptiles was 272,000.

There Are Over One Million Wild Animals Kept as Pets in Canada

In addition to the more common types of pets, you can also find 1.4 million wild animals as pets in Canada. The most common type is wild cats with 185,000 kept as pets. Next is snakes with 164,000 followed by 129,000 tortoises and turtles. 126,000 wild dogs are kept as pets, 90,000 amphibians, 50,000 arachnids, and 14,000 alligators and crocodiles.

The residents of Ontario are the most likely to have a wild animal as a pet with 588,000 wild animal pets found in the province. It is followed by Quebec with more than 286,000 wild animals as pets and Alberta with 202,000.

Canada’s Aging Pet Population

According to the National Library of Medicine, 33% of dogs and 35% of cats in Canada are over eight years old. Most Canadian households have had their cat or dog for close to five years, while 20% of pets have been with their owners for at least ten years. Only 8% of cats and dogs are under one year old.

Dogs Are More Likely to Come From Reputable Breeders

When Canadians are getting a new cat or dog, they are more likely to get their dogs from reputable sources than their cats. 35% of dogs are bought from breeders, 13% come from animal shelters, 10% are purchased from pet stores, and less than 1% are from vets.

With cats, the proportions are significantly lower. 17% of cats are from animal shelters, 9% from pet stores, 5% from breeders, and 2% from vets. The remaining cats come from friends or family, were obtained free through an advert, or were adopted stray cats.

Main Reasons for Not Having a Cat or a Dog

While more than half of Canadian homes have a cat or a dog, 44% of Canada’s households do not have either. The main reason why Canadians choose not to have a cat or a dog is because they simply do not want one and the responsibility that comes with cat or dog ownership 58% of the catless and dogless households gave this as their main reason.

The next biggest reason for not taking a cat or a dog as a pet was travelling too much or pets not fitting the current lifestyle at 41%. Health reasons and the cost of having a cat or dog were equally common reasons given by 22% of households with no cats or dogs. 12% of households also said they could not take a cat or a dog because their building did not allow them.

Canadians Are More Likely to Take Dogs Than Cats to the Vet

Canadian cat and dog owners are more likely to visit the vet with their dog than their cat. Within twelve months, 78% had been to the vet compared to only 50% of cats. 34% of the dogs and cats were taken to the vet once during the twelve months, while 34% of dogs and just 12% of cats were seen by the vet two or three times.

Most Pet Cats and Dogs in Canada Are Neutered or Spayed

Canadians are responsible pet owners with 69% of dogs and 79% of cats being neutered or spayed. The average cost for the operation was $146 for a dog and $117 for a cat. 66% of pet owners who have had their cat or dog spayed or neutered felt it was an important investment.

Most Cat and Dog Owners Do Not Have Insurance

The vast majority of Canadian cat and dog owners have not insured their pets. Only 4% of all dog owners and 2% of all cat owners have pet insurance. However, in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Quebec, the proportion of pet owners with insurance is closer to 10%. Some pet owners, 21%, say they have not heard about pet insurance, while 52% say they know very little about insuring their pets.

The average cost of pet insurance is under $35 per month. The main reason for pet insurance, chosen by 51% of pet owners, was having protection against expensive vet bills should their pet fall ill or get injured. 46% felt insurance offered them financial protection and 40% that it gave them peace of mind. However, 80% of pet owners in Canada say they would be able to cover the cost of medical treatment for their pets without insurance.

The Pet Industry in Canada

Considering how many households in Canada have at least one pet, it is not surprising that the pet industry market is important to the country’s economy. As the number of pets is expected to increase in Canada, the revenue from the pet industry is expected to grow alongside it. This year it is expected to reach around $7.1 billion in sales. According to IBIS World, there are 1,986 pet stores in Canada employing over 22,000 people.

What to Consider Before Getting a Pet in Canada

If you are thinking about getting a pet, such as a cat or a dog, there are certain things you need to consider before you get one.

You need to consider the cost of having a pet from the cost of their food to insurance and vet bills. Rules vary between provinces and territories but you may need to pay licensing fees and for a microchip for your pet. These fees vary. For example, in Ontario, the annual fee is $15 for pets over six months of age, while in Nova Scotia, the annual fee is $15. Microchipping is likely to cost between $50 and $100.

Think about what type of pet will suit your lifestyle. For example, if you travel a lot, it may be difficult to find people to look after your pet while you are away. People who work long hours may need to consider a pet that can be left alone for most of the day or consider a dog walker, which adds to the cost of having a pet.

You also need to take into account where you live. If you are renting an apartment, you may not be allowed pets such as cats or dogs. However, smaller mammals or birds may be allowed.

Conclusion

Canadians are pet-friendly people and almost four out of five households have at least one pet. Cats are the most popular pets in Canada, closely followed by dogs. However, many other types of pets are found in Canada, including wild and exotic animals. The large number of pets means there is a large pet industry in Canada and the revenue from pet stores alone is predicted to reach over $7 billion this year.

Anyone living in Canada and considering getting a pet needs to consider the cost of having a pet, their lifestyle, and whether their building allows all pets, such as cats and dogs. It is important to check the requirements for licensing and microchipping before getting a pet, too.

Frequently Asked Questions

The most popular type of pet in Canada is cats. In 2022, there were 8.5 million pet cats in Canada. The next most popular is dogs and there were 7.9 million pet dogs in Canada in 2022. The third and fourth most popular pets are fish and birds.

In 2021, there were over 28 million pets in Canada. The large majority of those pets were cats and dogs, but Canadians also keep other small mammals, fish, birds, and reptiles as pets. There are also over 1.4 million wild animals kept as pets in Canada.

Whether you need to have a license depends on the type of pet you are getting and where you live. You should always check the details with your local authorities before getting a pet.

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