How Much Does a Pet Really Cost?

My dad came in the front door and I launched myself at him.

“Dad, dad. A teacher at school is giving away two kittens. Can I pleeease have one? It won’t cost you anything.”

Oscar the Cat

Oh my poor father. How could he possibly resist his oldest (and frankly adorable) daughter.

I was twelve when I got my kitten. It wasn’t the first pet we ever had (a dog and another cat lived at my mum’s and the flower patch was littered with the shoe-boxed remains of mice and guinea pigs). But it was certainly the most troublesome one we ever got.

There was the constant fighting with possums and the resultant stitching up by the vet. And attacking of the neighbours pets, numerous visitors and even, once, the postman (the cat leapt out from the bushes and we got a nasty note in the mail), which meant more vet visits to find the right dosage of medication to calm him down.

Oscar was a darling towards me, but an absolute terror towards everyone else and a drain on my dad’s pockets to boot. I know Dad pretended to be sad when Oscar finally met his demise at age 11 while I was overseas (suspected of trying to take on a car and losing), but I reckon he was secretly a little bit relieved.

So what’s the point of me telling you about my crazy cat?

It’s that pets can be expensive. Really expensive.

How Much is That Doggy in The Window?

Pet costs blog postI have a terrible habit of visiting the pet store every time I go to the shopping centre.* They always have the cutest puppies sitting in those glass boxes out the front designed to pull on the heart-strings.

Now if there was ever an item not to purchase on impulse, it’s a pet. Considering most animals live upwards of 10 years, making that kind of commitment on a whim is just asking for trouble.

For starters, there’s the cost of the pet itself. Purebred and ‘designer’ doggies and moggies can cost upwards of $1,000 for certain breeds. Of course, rescue animals are cheaper, but even then they can cost from $300, up to $500.

Then there’s all the accoutrements that furry friends require up front. A bed, blankets, toys and a lead or carry case. Just buying a pet will cost you at least $700.

But then you have to factor in the ongoing costs. Food, of course – and the better you buy the healthier your pet will be in the long run. Then there’s vet bills for desexing, their vaccinations and annual check ups.

If you get a puppy then you’ll probably want to take it to some puppy classes for socialisation and training. Oh and if you’re planning on going away then you need to factor in the cost of boarding your pet. Ka-ching.

In fact pet ownership is a multi-billion dollar industry. In Australia, pet owners spend over $6 billion (yep, billion) each year on pets and pet products. Think about that.

Pets do bring a lot of joy into our lives. They provide unconditional love, and pet owners have been shown to be healthier and have longer lives.

But still, it’s important to consider all the costs of getting a pet before taking Fido or Fifi home from the shelter.

Item Cost
Buying the cat or dog Varies from $200 to $2,000 plus, depending on the breed
Vet expenses – microchipping, vaccination, de-sexing, worming, flea treatments, regular vet check ups This can cost up to $800 in the first year and then about $200 every year depending on the health of your pet and how accident prone they are. Later in life your pet may cost more as they may need dentistry and arthritis treatments
Pet food – wet food, dry food and treats Up to $360 per year for premium dog food
Accessories – collars and leads, food and water bowls, kennels, beds, toys,toilet mats and kitty litter, scratching posts Accessories can cost up to $500 initially to set up and then about $100 per year
Other services – obedience training, grooming, dog walking, boarding fees, local council registration These costs can vary widely. Be expect to pay upwards of $60 a session for training, and $30-70 a night for boarding costs.
Pet insurance This is optional and you’ll need to work out if the cost of the insurance premium is worth the coverage you’ll get. Also check the exclusions.

Costs from the ASIC Money Smart website

*I’m actually very anti-pet store. It’s impossible to know the parents’ temperament and the conditions that the animals were born into. When I get my puppy, it’ll be from a shelter or rescue group.

Were you surprised by the costs of getting your pet? Have you got any savings tips on how to reduce costs?