The true costs of owning a pet: What you need to know

Nearly nine in 10 Aussie families say their pets are just as much part of the family as their partner or children, however there’s no getting around the fact that cats and dogs can be costly to care for!

88.5% of us admit we’re worried about daily expenses and keeping up with the rising cost of living. So, it stands to reason that finding out the true costs of owning a pet is more important than ever, so you can plan and budget for your monthly and yearly costs. According to MoneySmart, the average pet owner forks out between $3,000 and $6,000 in the first year of owning a pet, and more than $1,000 for every year after that.

Common costs of owning a pet

The biggest outlay in the initial days will likely be the purchase of your new pet. Whether you buy a puppy or kitten from a registered breeder or decide to adopt a pet who’s been given up to a shelter, there will be a fee according to your animal’s breed, age and other factors.

At a shelter like the RSPCA, a number of costs will be bundled into this initial fee such as de-sexing, microchipping, puppy/kitten vaccinations and behaviour checks. Do note that if you buy a pet from a breeder or a shelter that doesn’t always include these costs, so you’ll need to pay for them through your local vet.

Pet insurance can help reduce the financial pressure of pet-care costs over the coming months and years. There are different levels of pet insurance, and different types of policies to suit an individual’s or a family’s needs.

Some of the things that pet insurance covers are a percentage of vet bills for accidental injury and illness. Some policies allow owners to claim a dollar amount per year for eligible vet bills (for example, $12,000 per year, with a $2,000 annual condition limit applying for Real Insurance’s Classic Accident & Illness Cover). Keep in mind some exclusions will apply.

While the costs of de-sexing and microchipping aren’t generally included in standard policies, a portion of your bills can be covered for injuries and illnesses that are included covers in your pet insurance policy.

You’ll also need to factor in ongoing health expenses for your pet. Typically, this will include monthly flea, tick and worming treatments that you can purchase over the counter at pet stores or from your vet. You will need to give your pet regular treatments over the course of their life to protect them against these types of parasites.

The everyday pet expenses you need to consider

So, you’ve picked out your new pet and understand the costs of bringing them home – but what about the everyday pet expenses once they join your family?

Pet food is a given, and the price will vary dramatically depending on whether you purchase basic kibble from a supermarket or invest in high-quality dry and wet foods from a specialist pet store.

Then you’ll need to think about indoor and/or outdoor bedding, food and water bowls, toys to keep them stimulated throughout the day (especially if you work away from home full-time), collars and walking leads, as well as dog-washing and cleaning supplies.

If you’re not keen on washing and grooming and would prefer to use a professional, then you’ll need to factor that into your monthly pet budget. Similarly, if you are away from home for extended periods and don’t have time to walk or train your dog, you may need to pay a dog walker or trainer to take care of those responsibilities for you.

4 simple ways to reduce your pet costs

It sounds like a lot, but there are ways to reduce your pet costs so you can stop worrying about expenses and spend time playing with your furry friend. Here are a few considerations to bear in mind:

  • Register your pet: Not only will registering your pet with your local council mean it’s more likely they will be returned should they escape from home, it also means you won’t be liable for fines due to having an unregistered pet. You should also register your pet’s microchip in case they get lost.
  • Keep your pet healthy: It sounds obvious because it is. A healthy pet is one that will likely have fewer visits to the vet – and lower vet bills! Regular exercise, plenty of water and healthy treats in moderation can keep your pet fighting fit and happy.
  • Invest time to train them yourself: Professional pet training services can be expensive, whereas when you take the time to train your pet yourself, you can build a stronger bond and save yourself some precious money.
  • Get the right policy: Consider Real Pet Insurance, which is there to protect you financially in case your pet becomes injured or ill. Depending on your level of cover, you could have a portion of your eligible vet bills paid for (or reimbursed) by your insurance provider, meaning less financial stress while your pet is on the road to recovery.

There’s more to owning a pet than just having a home for them to sleep in. In order to give your furry friend the best possible life, it’s important you understand the true costs of pet ownership and potentially seeking out the right pet insurance policy to protect yourself financially from unexpected vet bills.

Taking out pet insurance may seem like an unnecessary outlay while your pet is young and healthy, but you never know when the unexpected may happen and those expensive vet bills start rolling in. Find out more by calling 1300 665 965 or get a quick quote now.