5 Hidden costs of owning a pet

Read all about the 5 Hidden Costs Of Owning A Pet


Published On Aug 24,2021

Guest Post By Lauretta Williams

Image Source: Pixabay

With over 61% of Australians owning a pet[1], it can be hard to imagine a downside to our furry friends. Many animal owners view their pets as part of the family and are happy to take on any associated costs to keep their pets happy and safe.

However, it needs to be noted that owning a pet can have hidden expenses many new or inexperienced owners do not realise. The RSPCA estimates that owning a dog for its lifetime can cost owners up to $25,000[2], with many spending around $1500 a year to keep their pooch supplied with the essentials.

If you’re looking to get a pet and become a ‘pawrent’, here are 5 hidden costs of owning a pet that you may not have realised.

1. Food

Feeding an animal a minimum of once a day can quickly add up. Pet owners as a collective are spending up to $3.9 billion on food[3] to feed their furry family members. 

Individually, it can cost $800 a year for premium grade pet food[4] just to feed one animal. You should also be mindful of the fact that treats and tidbits will cost extra money, but come highly recommended to help train your pets in the early stages of their lives.

When researching what kind of animal to get as a pet, factor in how much food they will need and how much this will cost. For example, large dogs will require more food more frequently than small dogs or cats, so ensure you can cover the cost before welcoming your new family member.

2. Medication

Just like some people, animals can develop health conditions that require medication they need to take to have a good quality of life. The cost of providing necessary healthcare to your pet can also be expensive if you don’t have insurance.

A trip to the vet can cost between $250-$400 for your cats and dogs, with treatments such as worm, flea and tick prevention or management costing more money, around $248 for dog owners and $159 for cats.[5]

Advice suggests many dogs need to be wormed every three months, so this can be a necessary cost that you need to factor into your budget.

As your pets age, you may also need to provide vitamins and supplements (such as for joints and muscles) to ease their transition into elderhood. 

Covering the costs for these medications, both with and without insurance, can be challenging, so research common issues within your pets breed so you can be prepared. For example, several breeds of dogs can develop issues with arthritis, so research any potential pets genetic history so you can know what to expect.

3. Grooming

An essential part of keeping an animal is ensuring they are cleaned and well maintained. While cats will often self-groom, pets such as dogs require regular pampering to ease their quality of life.

For example, dogs with long hair will need their coats clipping, shaving and brushing to avoid painful matting that can develop. In hot climates, dogs will also need more frequent brushing to aid in malting and prevent heatstroke. For dogs, it will also be necessary to trim their nails so it is not painful for them during ‘walkies’.

The average cost of grooming a dog can be anywhere between $30 to $130[6], which can be quite costly over time as it is a regular occurrence. Most dogs need to be groomed every eight weeks, which can be a significant dent in any budget.

It may be beneficial and a good bonding experience with your dog to learn to groom your dog yourself[7]. This way, you can cut down on the cost of paying for grooming and spend more time with your furry friend. 

4. Toys and treats

All pets need mental stimulation to allow them to thrive. By providing toys and treats during playtime, you are ensuring as their owner they are experiencing the world in a fun way.

It has been reported that Australians are spending $1.1 billion on pet toys, carriers, leads and bowls to ensure their animals have the best quality of life.[8] Animals, particularly cats, need a variety of different stimuli including physical, mental and sensory to keep them entertained and out of trouble.[9]

Animals that are bored or under stimulated may develop issues such as anxiety, and this can lead to poor condition of life, stress, and damage to both the home and themselves.

Even if the toys you provide your pet are not expensive, perhaps even homemade, it is essential you provide your animals with a regular form of recreation.

5. Vet bills

Getting a pet can be an exciting time, but if you get a puppy or a kitten, there are other costs to factor in. This can involve getting your pet vaccinated, spayed or neutered, and microchipped, a legal requirement in some Australian states.[10]

Pets may also need emergency surgery, in the case of accidents or health issues that develop. Being able to afford vet bills to alleviate the suffering of your animal is a crucial requirement to being a responsible pet owner.

Insurance for your pets can help cover some of the vet costs, so ensure you factor in the annual fee and have an emergency deposit in case of accidents.

Final thoughts

Owning a pet can be a deeply rewarding experience, and if you do your research you can avoid the pitfalls of biting off more than you can chew. Budgeting effectively can help keep your pet happy and healthy, without putting too much of a dent in your wallet.

Always choose an animal and breed that you think will suit the life you currently have and that you are confident you can provide a good home for.

Reference Summary:

[1] https://www.aph.gov.au/DocumentStore.ashx?id=04b744d5-783e-4983-82ba-8c73effcb980&subId=691105#:~:text=There%20are%20almost%2029%20million,households%20have%20a%20pet%20today

[2] https://www.realinsurance.com.au/pet-insurance/pet-ownership/cost-to-own-a-dog-in-australia

[3] https://www.budgetdirect.com.au/pet-insurance/guides/real-cost-owning-pet-australia.html%20.

[4] https://moneysmart.gov.au/getting-a-pet

[5] https://www.iselect.com.au/pet-insurance/how-much-do-pets-cost/#:~:text=Visits%20to%20the%20vet%3A%20Routine,and%20%24159%20for%20your%20cat.

[6] https://sydneypetresort.com.au/grooming/

[7] https://www.coursesforsuccess.com.au/blog/business/4967-how-to-become-a-certified-dog-groomer

[8] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-27/australians-are-spending-up-big-on-pet-ownership/8651270

[9] https://allaboutcats.com/how-much-does-it-cost-to-own-a-cat

[10] https://kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/is-microchipping-mandatory-for-cats-and-dogs/

The thoughts, ideas and/or attitudes reflected in this article are not necessarily supported by Charlotte Bryan, Paws, Claws & Tails and/or any affiliates.

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