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It’s reigning cats and dogs in Canada

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it’s reigning cats and dogs…

The comedically insightful Jerry Seinfeld once quipped: “If you see two life forms, one of them is making a poop, the other one’s carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?”

Like many jokes, this is rather funny because it’s rather true.

… And Pets Rule the Roost

We certainly do love our pets. In Canada, and across North America, domestic animals of all shapes and sizes are doted upon as members of our human families. In many cases, they even replace human children as objects of our affection. They serve and protect, entertain and amuse, and provide solace and companionship for the mere reward of tummy rubs and cuddles.

So while it should come as no surprise that an extremely robust industry has evolved around our primarily 4-legged friends, the actual scope is staggering: Today’s Canadian pet market is valued at approximately $9.3 billion. That’s a “b”, not a typo.

Around 58% of Canadians were pet owners in 2020. The country has a recorded cat population of 8.1 million and a dog population of 7.7 million. The average cost of owning a dog in Canada is $3,724 per year. There’s your math.

And there’s more: Globally, the pet market is worth $261 billion.

Pet Supplies and Services is Big Business

Clothes, food, toys and accessories are part of the domestic pet industry  (Photo:

Currently, there are 2,446 pet supply stores across the country. These brick-and-mortar retail outlets and online suppliers are only part of the picture. Add in businesses like veterinarians, pet spas and kennels, dog walkers and sitters… there’s no end to the ways to take our hard-earned dollars out for a permanent walk.

Here’s a sample breakdown of a dog-ownership budget:

  • Pet food: $1,132
  • Pet insurance: $1,097
  • Dental care: $652
  • Vaccines, blood work and check-ups: $410
  • Parasite prevention: $241
  • Toys and accessories: $192

This list does not mention the costs of buying a pet, boarding at kennels, dog-walking or grooming services. People spend $50 on average per grooming appointment. Because Fifi needs her pouf.

And get this: In 2020, we invested $649 million in treats alone! We rang up annual sales of around $500 million for dog treats and another $149 million for cats.

Three of Every Five People You Meet Own a Pet

The 58% of Canadian pet ownership mentioned earlier was in 2020, and represented 7.5 million households. The most common pets are of course cats and dogs. But the industry also caters to those who own fish, birds, rodents (hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils), rabbits, and reptiles (snakes, turtles). Some of the more unusual species gaining in popularity are geckos, ferrets, hedgehogs, and bearded dragons. You can count on exotic cats, wallabies, pygmy goats, alpacas and sugar gliders to be conversation-starters.

The breeding, boarding, riding and racing of horses is an industry unto itself – Olympian in scope. This series will have an article dedicated specifically to equine pursuits.

As more and more people stayed home over the past couple of years due to country-wide pandemic lockdowns, we tallied an 18% upsurge in pet adoptions. Interestingly, according to Industry Canada, it was the Millennial population that was most likely to buy a pet during the pandemic, at a rate of 38%. 

In light of the cost of pet ownership cited above, it comes as no surprise that 72% of pet parents belong to households with no kids. College funds or obedience school: take your pick.

Trends to Watch

According to pet food industry statistics, the market is expected to grow by over 4% each year over the next few years.

This growth is mirrored on an international scale. It fuels the financial expansion of existing pet industry branches like food, veterinary care and services. At the same time, it is propelling the creation of new pockets of enterprise, in areas like:

  • Eco-conscious and health-conscious initiatives generally follow emerging global trends of natural or raw and plant-based food, local sourcing and sustainability. 
  • Pet insurance is driven by the high cost of routine and emergency veterinary care. Currently, 83% of dogs and 17% of cats in the USA are insured!
  • Technology and science. Pet care cannot evade our constant quest for easier, better, and quicker. Self-cleaning litter boxes, GPS devices in collars, cat litter that diagnoses health concerns through changing colour, self-dispensing food and water devices… pet parents love their tech toys. So much so, that the US pet tech market is set to undergo a 22% compound annual growth rate over the next five years.

Where’s a Good Career?

Dogs being trained by coach (Photo:

The global market is projected to reach roughly $350 billion by 2027. What does this tell us? For one thing, that is a terrific industry to turn to for a stable, promising career. From manufacturers and food growers through retail and e-commerce right down to independent services, the future looks bright for anything related to domestic pets.

Here’s one final bit of data to close: In 2020, Americans spent $490 million on Halloween costumes for their pets. Pretty scary, eh kids?

Sources: Facts and statistics cited in this article were sourced from the websites of major Canadian and US pet retailers, in addition to: Humane Canada Report 2019 | Statista | IBISWorld | Reviewlution | |


Pets contribute a lot to people’s lives,so they should receive the love, care, and attention they deserve.

Made possible with the support of Ontario Creates

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