So your family are dreaming of a pet from Santa this Christmas. Well before you fall in love with a pet that your family are wishing for, understand the true cost of having a new furry family member in your home.
The cost of owning a dog over its lifetime can be up to $25,000 (Source: BankWest Family Pooch Index). Cats cost slightly less but also live longer than dogs, so they set owners back around the same amount.
If you’re getting a pet, the cost will vary according to its breed, age, size, whether they have health issues, and if you choose to take out pet insurance.
Add up the weekly costs of your pet and then put them in your budget
Cost of a pet
Did you know the average dog costs more than $1,400 per year? The cost of a pet infographic explores the average cost of pet ownership and pet insurance in Australia.
Expenses for a new pet
Here are some of the expenses you might be paying when you get a new pet. Bear in mind this is only a guide and you should do your own research on the actual costs for your pet.
Pet expenses checklist
|Buying the cat or dog||Starts from around $200, but depends on the breed and where you get it from|
|Vet expenses (including microchipping, vaccination, de-sexing, check-ups, and unexpected costs like accidents and health issues)||Up to $1,000 in the first year, then about $450 every year after (Source: BankWest Family Pooch Index)|
|Health expenses (flea, tick, worming)||Between $300-450 each year, depending on your pet’s size|
|Pet food||About $800 per year for premium dog food, PLUS treats|
|Accessories (e.g. collar, harness, leash, car restraint, bowls, kennels and beds, toys, toilet mats and kitty litter, scratching posts)||Up to $500 initially to set up, then about $100 per year|
|Other services (e.g. obedience training, grooming, dog walking, boarding fees, local council registration)||Ring around or check local services but council registration fees can cost between $30-$190 per year|
|Pet insurance||Between $20-$60 per month, per pet|
|Estimate of total costs for the first year: $3,000 to $6,000 (not including unexpected health problems)|
Weighing up the cost of pet insurance
Pet insurance can help cover the cost of your pet is sick or injured and needs veterinary care. The cost of pet insurance will depend on your pet’s size, age and other factors. There will also be an excess to pay on most claims, so get quotes from different providers on the costs for the level of cover you would like.
Pet insurance is optional and you’ll need to work out if the cost of the premium is worth the coverage you’ll get. Be sure to check the claim process, excess gap cost, and the exclusions before you sign up. For more information see pet insurance.
Ways to reduce your pet costs
The cost of owning a pet can really add up, but there are some simple things you can do to cut the cost of owning one. Here are some ideas.
- Buy your pet from a shelter – If you buy your pet from the RSPCA or a cat or dog shelter, not only will you be saving an animal that needs a home, it will already be de-sexed, wormed and vaccinated. You may also save on local council registration fees, so be sure to check.
- Register your pet – If you don’t, the fine can be much higher than the registration fee and your pet can be more easily found if they are lost. Check with your local council for accurate costs and requirements.
- Get your pet de-sexed – If you don’t plan to breed your pet, the cost to de-sex will be lower than the cost of bringing up a litter. With some councils, it is mandatory to have your cat de-sexed, so make sure you check this as the fine could be high.
- Keep your pet healthy – Providing regular exercise, a good diet, and dental care are important to maintaining your pet’s overall health and avoiding complications later in their life. Keep an eye on their weight and provide regular bones or dental treats for your pet to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
- Phone a friend – Rather than shelling out for a boarding kennel while you go away on holidays, ask an animal-loving friend to pet sit in your home.
- Pamper your pet yourself – Save money by trimming your own pet’s nails and treating them to a bath, rather than paying someone else to do it. If your pet requires regular haircuts, invest in a pair of clippers and teach yourself to trim their coats through online instructional videos. They probably won’t mind as much as humans would if you give them a bad haircut.
- Invest time to train – Rather than paying for a professional to help with your pet’s behavioural problems, do some research and put the time in yourself first. There are plenty of online resources available, including videos to demonstrate what to do.
- Go DIY – You can make your own toys, treats, play structures, and even beds to save you money. There are heaps of online tutorials to help you, it could save you heaps and can also be quite rewarding.
It is important you plan for the upfront and ongoing expenses of your new pet to ensure they will fit in with your household and your budget.