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.

The cost of owning a pet

The cost of owning a dog over its lifetime can be up to $25,000 (Source: BankWest Family Pooch Index). Cats cost slightly less but also live longer than dogs, so they set owners back around the same amount.

Pet infographic thumbnail small

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.

Setting up 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.

Item Cost* 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 costs Up to $1,000 in first year, then about $450 every year after

(Source: BankWest Family Pooch Index)

  • 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 1-3 months.
  • 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 treats
  • 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 per year. 
  • 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 year.  

  • 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. 
Pet insurance 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 would like. 
  • 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 up. 

Estimate of total costs for the first year: $3,000 to $6,000 (not including unexpected health problems)

*Note: Costs are only a guide following our online and phone research. We suggest you call local suppliers to get your own costs.

You can use our budget planner to create a budget and add in your yearly pet costs with your other expenses.

Budget planner

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

" "Sarah 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 a dog.

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 area.

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.

Reducing pet costs

Here are some things you can do to reduce the costs of owning a pet.

  • 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 requirements.
  • 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 local district. 

The cost of cats and dogs... and snakes?

PupTry 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.

Related links

Last updated: 29 Jul 2016