That doggy in the window might end up costing you more than you think!
So, the kids are hounding you for a pet? (pardon the pun!). Adding a furry (or slimy, or scaly?!) friend to your household can bring fun and laughs, companionship and exercise. But it can also bring a lot of expenses, including some you mightn’t have thought of.
Before you give in the kids (or your own desire) for a furry friend – be sure to factor the costs into your budget. Here’s our top tips on the costs you’ll need to cover to keep your pet fed, healthy, clean and happy.
The truth about cats and dogs
- Over its lifetime, a dog can cost its owners anywhere between $13,000 and $25,000. Yep, seriously.
- And while cats cost slightly less, because they tend to live longer than dogs they tend to set their owners back around the same amount.
The cost of getting your new dog or cat will vary according to factors such as their breed, size, and age.
Some of the other costs you’ll need to consider are:
- Vets bills – microchipping, vaccination, de-sexing, regular vet check-ups, not to mention unexpected costs due to injuries and accidents.
- Expect to pay the vets up to $1,000 in your pet’s first year, then about $450 every year after that.
- Consider unexpected events that may happen, such as accidents, tick bites, dental work, and allergies.
- Budget to set aside a little, or consider contributing to a separate account for future and unexpected vets bills.
- Health expenses – for general treatments like fleas, ticks and worming, expect to pay between $300-450 each year, depending on the size of your pet.
- Food – feeding your pet will set you back about $800 a year for premium brands. And of course bigger animals will generally cost more to feed too.
- Accessories – your dog or cat will need a few extras such as a collar, harness, leash, car restraint, winter coat, bowls for food and water, a kennel and a bed, toys, toilet mats and kitty litter. The initial setup cost of all of these items could be around $500, then about $100 per year.
- Other services – you’ll need to pay your local council to register your new pet, which can cost between $30 and $190 per year.
- You might also need services like obedience training and grooming, or boarding fees when you’re away. Ring around to your local services to get accurate costs.
- Pet insurance. This can help protect you from high unforeseen vet bills, and will cost around $20 to $60 per month, per pet.
The total estimated costs for your pet’s first year could therefore be between $3,000 and $6,000 – not including unexpected accidents or health problems.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wave a sad goodbye to that doggy in the window! Here are some things you can do to reduce the costs of owning a pet.
Reducing pet costs
Rescue your pet – visit your local shelter
- Get your new furry friend from the RSPCA or from a cat or dog shelter and they will be de-sexed, wormed and vaccinated, saving you a small fortune on these costs.
- Not only that, you’ll of course be saving an animal who needs a new loving home.
- Your council registration fees might be cheaper too, so be sure to check.
Register your pet
- This ensures that you and your pet can be more easily reunited if they get lost.
- Be warned that the fine for having an unregistered pet can be much higher than the registration fee itself.
- It may also be cheaper in the long-term to purchase ‘lifetime’ rather than annual registration, so check with your local council for options and requirements.
Get your pet de-sexed
- Unless you plan to breed your pet, the cost to have them de-sexed will be lower than the cost of bringing up a litter.
- With some councils, it is mandatory to have your cat de-sexed, so check their requirements to be sure you avoid a fine.
Check for discounts
- Some councils have discounts to register pets over the age of 10.
Get the kids involved in the decision
The Great Pet Debate is a fun and interactive video your kids can use to help understand the costs and benefits of buying a pet. Kids follow the story of Alessia, Bella and Charlie as they plan their pet purchases by learning all about the costs and the pros and cons of owning each type of pet.
Choose your pet to fit your budget
So remember, whether it’s a dog, cat, reptile or fish that you’re considering as your new family member, it’s 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.