The cost of owning a pet
Australians are a nation of animal lovers. According to the Australian Companion Animal Council, we have one of the highest incidences of pet-ownership in the world!
Dogs and cats are our favourites; around 36% of Australian households own a dog, and 23% own a cat. We’re familiar with the companionship pets bring, and the social interaction they foster, but there are other benefits too, such as:
- Lowered blood pressure and cholesterol
- Increased physical activity
- Strengthened immune system and reduced incidence of allergies
- Children learn responsibility, empathy and respect.
When considering a pet, you expect costs like, food, bedding and the annual vet visit, but there are other costs you may not have thought about.
Let’s start at the beginning. Those purchasing a pet from breeders, could pay anywhere from $100s to $1,000s. Additionally, there are de-sexing, vaccination, and microchipping costs.
Conversely, there are fewer surprises from rescued cats and dogs. Shelters are overflowing with abandoned pets seeking a second chance and adoptions cost around $200 (puppies/kittens) or anything from $150 (adult dogs/cats). De-sexing, vaccinations and microchipping are included in the adoption fee.
But that’s not the end of it. How much, for example, will your pet grow and can your weekly grocery budget expand to feed another hungry family member? Standard dog food can be around $2 per 700g tin. A large dog may require more than one tin a day in addition to dry food and treats.
In most municipalities, pets must be registered – at a cost, of course. Then you need to think about fencing. Pets must be restricted to your property meaning ensuring your boundaries are securely fenced; cat-owners may need to invest in a cat-safe enclosure.
Regularly exercising your pet and providing toys to keep them mentally stimulated will assist in preventing costly property damage through boredom or escape attempts.
Ongoing health care can be pricey too. According to moneysmart.gov.au, health care estimates start around $3,000, excluding unexpected problems.
Pet insurance policies are widely available and offer cover from $50 per month.
As with any insurance, choose wisely. Carefully read the policy document checking for:
- Benefits and limits
- Eligibility/age limits
- Pre-existing conditions
- Excess options
- Waiting periods/discounts
Depending on your pet’s circumstances, you might opt to regularly contribute to a dedicated account instead, ensuring there’s money available when needed.
Reduce costs by keeping your pet healthy and happy through diet, exercise, training and play.
Pet-care while you’re on holiday is an additional cost. Dog boarding kennels charge from about $40 per day (cats about $20). Alternatively a pet-sitter staying in your home could charge anything from $30 per night.
In recent times household expenses have been attracting more scrutiny than ever from financial institutions. Lenders are increasingly antsy about approving loan applications without seeing a full household budget.
When looking to borrow or renegotiate an existing loan, you must know your position. Your financial adviser will help you work through your income and expenses to determine whether a new family member will fit into your budget.
Pet ownership is a long-term financial obligation, but there’s no denying its rewards. With a pet-ownership of 62%, the majority of Australian households would agree.
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