The cost of owning a dog or cat

From the first day we bring them home, our furry friends win our hearts over and become a member of the family. But, before we leap into the emotional purchase of a pet, it is important to know what you can expect to pay year on year after the purchase price of the animal.

Pet ownership is a commitment for the life of the animal and depending on the average lifespan of your chosen pet, this could mean a big ongoing financial commitment. From their food, grooming, vaccinations, flea treatments, boarding and care when away, to illness or injury, pet costs can accumulate quickly.

Regular vet care is vital for your dog or cat’s health and a recent survey estimates that dog owners could spend an average of over $450 per year on vet services. A vet visit is often more expensive in real terms than a doctor’s visit, as there is no Medicare system to subsidise regular or emergency vet services.

Vet expenses over the years

Routine vet visits

When keeping your pet healthy, plan to visit the vet at least twice a year with check-ups costing around $150–$300 yearly. Starting from when they are young, vaccinations are one of the most important things you can do for your animal. These protect them from an assortment of diseases, depending on the type of animal or breed.

Puppies can get roundworms from their mother’s milk and have to be wormed every two weeks for 12 weeks.

Even though they are tiny, fleas are a huge problem that can cause skin problems for puppies and kittens if they aren’t treated quickly. Fleas can easily be managed with either sprays, drops or collars.

A yearly pet schedule should be adhered to so that vaccinations, like heartworm prevention injection, can be administered to prevent diseases. Some vets create check-up reminder schedules to assist pet owners on what their pets need and when they should be undertaken. Without these vaccinations and precautions, pets can be more at risk to serious illnesses.

One-off visits

Microchipping is an effective way of protecting your animal, in the event of them becoming lost or stolen and is mandatory in some areas. With microchips, our companions can be easily identified through scanners at vets or rescue centres. Just remember to update your details if you move or change phone numbers.

Desexing your animal is another option that has many other benefits other than preventing unwanted litters. It may also reduce unwelcome behaviours like roaming, fighting or spraying in males. The health benefits include preventing worm infections and mammary disease for females. Desexing should be done prior to your dog or cat becoming sexually mature, around the age of five to six months.

Teeth cleaning might also be required to prevent tooth decay and further associated diseases. However, not all pets need their teeth cleaned, depending on their breed, diet and age.

The unexpected vet visits

Sometimes our little companions just don’t seem themselves, become ill or have an accident. These types of visits can lead to bills of hundreds or even thousands of dollars, depending on the medical care and treatment required. Their illnesses or injury could range from deadly ticks, snake bites, anal gland infection or other serious diseases that can require hospitalisation, emergency treatment or surgery.

Owning a pet is a pleasure and a recent survey showed that 96 per cent of dog owners regard their dog to be a part of their family. With that in mind, some pet owners may find taking out Pet Insurance an excellent way to help manage vet expenses and reduce money anxiety, giving peace of mind when you need it the most.

Real Insurance is an award-winning provider of pet insurance.

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