Owning a pet can be a rewarding experience and bring a whole host of benefits to your household – from companionship to teaching your kids responsibility, increased exercise and, of course, boundless love for a furry friend. When you buy a new pet, there are also financial costs to consider so here are the top things to keep in mind.
The lifetime cost of owning a pet
According to ASIC’s MoneySmart, the cost of owning a dog over its lifetime is almost $25,000 and while cats cost slightly less to look after, they also live longer than dogs, so the overall cost averages out at about the same. Expect to pay about $1,400 annually for dogs and $1,000 for cats, says MoneySmart, while a fish will cost $50 per year and a bird will cost $115.
The upfront costs (during the first year)
Paying for your pooch or kitty cat isn’t the only upfront cost you’ll need to consider when getting a pet. The RSPCA reveals that additional initial costs can include a new bed, car restraint, collar or leash, desexing, food and bowls, microchipping, toys and treats, initial vaccinations, name tags, flea and worming treatments, puppy training, and more.
Ongoing outlays and expenses
Your beloved furry friend will need ongoing care throughout its life and this can take a number of forms. This can include regular grooming which can cost anywhere between $70 and $90 per visit depending on the breed. You’ll also need to budget for regular flea and worming treatments at around $120 per year, annual food costs of about $600, boarding for when you are away which can start from around $50 per day - and don’t forget additional toys and treats! Annual vet check-ups can start at around $200 and are important to ensure the long-term health and wellbeing of your pet. This can include ongoing vaccinations, teeth cleaning, and regular tick and flea treatment which can prevent more serious and expensive treatments later in life.
Preparing for the unexpected
Pet ownership also means preparing for unexpected eventualities, such as health issues, that can be quite expensive. Pet insurance is an option which can help cover the costs of accidents and illness, related care, certain vet treatments and pet dental care, depending on your policy. You’ll likely have to pay an excess on your claims so shop around for the policy that best suits your needs, but the additional insurance coverage will give you greater peace of mind as your pet moves through life.
Responsible pet ownership
Along with the costs of owning a pet, you have responsibility of ensuring it lives its best life.
While not necessarily a financial cost, it’s important to consider the impacts of where you obtain your pet. Puppy farms produce pets for profit and have little regard for their health or wellbeing. You may wish to adopt a pet that needs rehoming rather than buying an expensive purebred animal. You also need to consider whether you have the time to socialise and train your pet and allow it regular exercise, if necessary, so it’s happy and healthy. And one final note about the environmental cost of pets – it’s important to keep good care and control over outdoor cats and dogs to minimise their impact on Australian native wildlife.
Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world and, while owning a pet is still one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, just remember to keep in mind the financial costs of caring for your pet responsibly.