Pets! We love them, we love to care for them, we love to take pictures of them so that we can post them on social media for those sweet likes and comments.
But what most people don’t consider when getting a pet is just how damn expensive a pet actually is. Yes, that cute face needs care and love, but it also needs food, vet checks, registration, medical treatments, accessories, training, and who know what else (like, say, replacing THAT favourite pair of shoes that they destroyed while you were out).
Thankfully, as with most costs in life, we can budget and track these things to some degree. Yes, some pets may be more expensive than others; for example, getting an always-on UV light for your reptile’s aquarium is going to add an extra digit to your energy bill, least. But on a general level, years of research have shown us how much a pet will cost over their lifetime.
FOOD AND TREATS
Around a third of that yearly cost is entirely devoted to food – around about $800 per annum for dog or cat food that will actually give your pets nutrients (or “premium” dog food). You could save money by going for cheaper stuff, but that may be reflected with worse health outcomes for your pet in the long term. Note that this cost doesn’t include treats. So if your dog is particularly addicted to chewy beef bars, you’re in for a much more expensive friendship.
On average, pet insurance will cost you around $20 to $60 per month. Like human health insurance, this protects yourself from the unsightly costs of more complex veterinary procedures. Dr Ross notes that spinal surgery, for example, can cost up to $10,000 per surgery. Which, needless to say, is a really really big amount to pay right out of pocket for anyone.
Note that, just like any other insurance you take out, it’s always best to weigh up your options. This is especially pertinent in regards to what you want covered and what the potential gap will be if – knock on wood – your best pal gets in an accident.
CLOTHES AND ACCESSORIES
All those cute pet accessories, coats, and costumes come at a price. Specifically, you’re looking at an average set-up cost of $500 for the first year of owning your pet. Note that this also includes stuff like kennels, scratching posts and food bowls. After the first year, the costs drop to around $100, since you’re more likely to just be replacing the stuff you’ve already got / that your pet has somehow destroyed.
Again, this is a big one. Veterinary and health expenses are, like food, a large chunk of the yearly cost of having a pet.
“For just the basics, you looking at $100 per vaccination, for puppies and cats as well,” Dr Kayleigh Ross from the North Rocks Veterinary Hospital told PEDESTRIAN.TV. “And they’ll need a minim
um of three of those, as a puppy, or a young animal. And then it’s around $100-$140 each year for those vaccinations. And they need that every year, for the rest of their lives. Then you’ve got your other expenses, like your worming, which can cost around $50 a month.”
Another major vet expense is desexing. The procedure is necessary for many domesticated pets, but few realise how costly it is. “They don’t appreciate that it is a major surgery for their pet. People don’t budget enough to cover the costs.”
When it came to the raw cost, Dr Ross said that, “including blood tests and fluids, you’re looking at around four to five hundred for a male dog, and probably five to six hundred for a female. And then for cats it’s a little bit cheaper than that.”
OTHER HIDDEN COSTS
A cost few consider is that most pets will have to be registered with your local council. This helps them keep track of animals in the area, both for residential zoning and environmental reasons. You could also face a fine if your pet is unregistered. Depending on your council and the type of pet you have, you’re looking at between $30 to $190 per year, although some councils offer discounts for multi-year or lifetime registration.
Likewise, you should consider other non-medical costs, such as pet-sitters or dog walkers if you travel, obedience training, and professional grooming. All of these costs are variable, based on your pet’s needs and your own desires.
THE TOTAL COST
According to a report by BankWest, the average family dog will cost just over $25,000 over their lifetime. That breaks down to an average of $2,452 per annum, with an initial outlay of $585 to buy the pup. If you’re more of a cat person, the bad news os the same: while the yearly cost may be lower at around $1,772 per annum, cats live longer than dogs, so they rack up about an equal cost.
In the end, pets are some of the best things to ever happen to the human race – I’m a firm believer that their continued existence offsets the entirety of the hellhole that is Twitter. But, much like any big commitment, you should always break out the calculator and ask yourself the tough question of, “Can you afford this?”