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Cost of pets

We all love our furry friends. They add insurmountable value to our lives. However, it’s important to consider the costs and the responsibility associated with pet ownership, particularly if you’re saving for your first home.

While we don’t want to scare you away or turn you off giving a loving animal a caring home, we do want to encourage people to consider the various costs that can come with responsible pet ownership. We’ve unpacked the nitty-gritty of pet ownership below:

Upfront costs

In most instances, when you choose a new pet there will be some kind of ‘adoption’ or purchase fee. These vary significantly depending on the breed. If you’re looking for a designer pooch like a French Bulldog, for instance, you can be looking at upward of $3k whereas adoption fees from rescue groups and places like the RSPCA can range between $100-$500.

When you adopt a dog or a cat it will more than likely already be desexed, microchipped and vaccinated. If you’re purchasing a pet from a breeder you may have to fork out some of these costs on your own. All up, this can equate to up to $1k.

Council Registration

In Australia, most councils require you to register your dog or cat with them. Registration fees do vary from council to council as well as considering other factors like whether your pet is desexed or considered a menacing breed. Prices typically vary between $50-$500 per year for dogs and between $300-$200 for cats.

Accessories

Pets are like people; they need things and often a lot more than you initially anticipate. The costs of all these items vary considerably. We’ve put together a handy checklist to help you determine what you might need.

Dog

  • Bed
  • Blanket
  • Kennel
  • Leash
  • Food and water bowls
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • A coat
  • Other clothes depending on the breed
  • A collar
  • Name tag
  • Seatbelt
  • Carry cage depending on the breed

Cat

  • Kitty litter and tray
  • Carry cage
  • Bed
  • Scratching post
  • A collar
  • Toys
  • Treats
  • Name tag

Every day costs

Don’t forget food! Just like any other member of your family, your furry friends need to be fed regularly and if you have a pet with an allergy, sensitive stomach or someone who is just plain fussy you may be looking at some rather expensive food. Keep in mind, that it’s important to pay attention to quality when it comes to pet food. There are a lot of cheaper options out there, but these other options don’t have as many vital minerals and nutrients and you often have to feed your pet larger servings which begs the question, is it really cheaper?

Insurance

The costs associated with pet insurance vary considerably depending largely on the breed and the kind of policy you’re looking for.

Finder crunched the numbers for 560 dog breeds available in Australia and found that the average cost of pet insurance for dogs was around $372 per year for accident cover and about $780 per year for accident and illness cover and $840 for comprehensive cover.

In comparison, when they reviewed 96 breeds for cats, they determined the average cost for pet insurance for cats in Australia was around $300 per year for accident cover and $480 per year for accident and illness cover and $600 for comprehensive cover.

If you choose not to insure your pet, it’s worth creating a separate bank account and adding regular funds to it to ensure if something unexpected does arise you are in the position to be able to manage it without experience financial distress.

Vet, Vaccinations and Treatments

Like humans, pets also require regular checks to ensure they maintain good health and prevent expensive and harmful illnesses. While we’re fortunate enough to have Medicare, there’s no such thing for pets and you will more than likely pay more for a vet appointment than you would for a GP.

According to Choice (March 2019), the average annual vet expenses (excluding emergency visits and medications) are estimated to cost:

  • $397 for dogs
  • $273 for cats

When you consider additional preventative medicines to reduce the likelihood of fleas, ticks and worms you’re looking at on average, an extra:

  • $248 for dogs
  • $159 for cats

Grooming

Depending on what breed of pet you have you may need to budget for regular grooming particularly if you have a long-haired friend as they are susceptible to matted fur. Pet grooming services vary quite a bit in costs depending on the breed, location but you can expect to pay anywhere between $50-$100 per appointment. 

Holiday Care

Heading away? While you may be able to organise a pet-friendly vaycay, chances are your four-legged family members might have to sit this one out.

If you don’t have a family member or friend who can pet sit you may need to consider an alternative like a boarding kennel which can be a costly option, or even a pet sitter through a site like Mad Paws.

Thinking it Through

While a new pet isn’t meant to be a scary or hard experience, we do want to encourage you to plan and think carefully before you take the leap, particularly if you’re saving for a house.

At a glance, ASIC’s MoneySmart has found in the first year alone, a cat or dog will cost you between $3,000 and $6,000.

After your first year together expect to pay at least:

  • $1,475 each year for a dog
  • $1,029 each year for a cat

To determine whether this is a cost you can afford, try using a budget planner like this one.

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