Getting a pet
The truth about cats and dogs
Adding a furry friend to your life can give you companionship,
love and exercise but animals can be costly to care for properly.
Before you take on a pet, you should factor them into your budget.
Here are some of the things you will need to pay for to keep your
pet healthy and happy.
of owning a pet
The cost of owning a dog over its lifetime can be up to $25,000
BankWest Family Pooch Index). Cats cost slightly less but also
live longer than dogs, so they set owners back around the same
Cost of a pet
Did you know the average dog costs more than $1000 per year? The
cost of a
pet infographic explores the average cost of pet ownership and
pet insurance in Australia.
your new pet
The cost of getting a new dog or cat will vary according to the
breed, size, and age of the pet. When calculating your expenses,
you should take into account the size of your animal, as a larger
dog will generally cost more than a smaller one.
Here are some of the expenses you might be paying when getting a
new pet. This is only a guide and you should do your own research
as council registration, food and vet fees vary.
||Things to consider
|Buying the cat or dog
||From $200 to $3,500 plus
- Costs vary depending on the breed
|Vet expenses - microchipping,
vaccination, de-sexing, regular vet check ups, unexpected
||Up to $1,000 in first year, then about $450 every year after
- Costs will depend on the health of your pet and how accident
prone they are.
- Think about the longer term costs, and if the breed of your pet
is prone to health issues (e.g. hip dysplasia, eye problems).
- Consider unexpected events that may happen, such as accidents,
tick bites, dental work, and allergies.
- Factor extra into your budget, or consider contributing to a
separate account for future costs as often you will have to pay for
these up front. If you take out pet insurance, you may be able to
claim costs back later, but check with the provider.
- Later in life your pet may cost more as they may need dental
work and arthritis treatment.
Health expenses - flea, tick, worming
|Between $300-450 each year, depending on the size
of your pet
- Flea, tick and worming treatments are a recurring cost every
- If you have a flea infestation, you may need to get your house
treated, which can cost up to $130.
|Pet food - wet food, dry food and treats
||About $800 per year for premium dog food, PLUS
- The cost will generally be less for smaller dogs, compared to
larger dogs (because they eat less).
|Accessories - collar, harness, leash, car
restraint, winter coats, bowls for food and water, kennels and
beds, toys, toilet mats and kitty litter, scratching posts
||Up to $500 initially to set up, then about $100
- Outdoor dog kennels may cost even more and if your pet likes to
chew, you may need to replace things, like toys, more often.
|Other services - obedience training, grooming,
dog walking, boarding fees, local council registration
Ring around to your local services to get accurate costs.
Local council registration fees can cost between $30-$190 per
- Be sure to specify the breed of your animal, as grooming costs
will vary and some kennels will require certain breeds of dogs to
board alone (rather than a shared room).
- Council fees will vary depending on the area you live in, if
your pet is de-sexed and microchipped, and sometimes the age of
your pet. Check their website.
||Between $20-$60 per month, per pet
- Costs will depend on your pets' 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
- Pet insurance is optional and you'll need to work out if the
cost of the insurance premium is worth the coverage you'll get.
Be sure to check the claim process, excess gap cost, and the
exclusions before you sign
Estimate of total costs for the first year: $3,000
to $6,000 (not including unexpected health problems)
You can use our budget planner to create a budget and add in
your yearly pet costs with your other expenses.
Use our TrackMySpend app to add up the weekly costs of your pet
and then put them in your budget
Case study: Sarah gets a new puppy
had her heart set on owning her first puppy and wanted to make sure
she could afford to have a dog. She started by calling her local
vet to find out how much it cost to vaccinate, de-sex and microchip
Next Sarah visited her local pet shop to find out the costs of
pet foods, flea and worming treatments, and accessories for her pet
including a bed, collar and lead, and chew toys. She also looked
into the cost of dog obedience classes. Finally, Sarah called her
local council to find out the registration fees for a dog in her
In the end the costs added up to a lot more than Sarah thought
they would, so she saved for another 6 months before she began the
search for her new furry companion.
Here are some things you can do to reduce the costs of owning a
- Buy your pet from a shelter - If you buy
your pet from the RSPCA or from a cat or dog shelter your animal
will be de-sexed, wormed and vaccinated which will save you money
and save an animal that needs a home. You may also save in 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. It may also be cheaper in
the long-term to purchase 'lifetime' registration, rather than
yearly. Check with your local council for accurate costs and
- 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.
- Check for discounts - Some councils have
discounts to register pets over the age of 10. Check with your
The cost of cats and dogs... and snakes?
Try MoneySmart Teaching's
interactive resource that helps kids research the costs
and benefits of buying a pet and tackle issues around saving,
spending, planning, budgeting and making consumer choices.
Teachers can also use our Year 6 Mathematics unit of work It's
raining cats and dogs...and chickens where students investigate
the costs of becoming a pet owner and explore ethical
considerations and other factors that influence pet choice.
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.
Last updated: 29 Jul 2016