Cats, dogs, birds, fish and rabbits are just some of the animals that most Australians have had in their home at some stage of their life. In fact, Australia has one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. The RSPCA reports that around 62 per cent of Australian households own pets, and there around 24 million pets in Australia.
However, there’s a big difference between wanting a pet and being a responsible pet owner, and the cost of owning an animal can stack up.
For most animals, the basics include vaccinations, worming, flea treatments, neutering, grooming and other unexpected things that can pop up, such as dental issues.
While dogs and cats are the most popular pets in Australia, fish, birds and other small animals such as rabbits and rodents also make the top five. ASIC’s MoneySmart website says that the total cost of owning a pet can range from $3000 and $6000 in its first year of life. After that, the website reports that a dog will cost an average of $1475 a year and cats $1029 a year for food, grooming, boarding and standard vet checks.
The cheapest pets were fish at $50 a year and birds at $115 a year, on average.
Another option for covering the expenses of your pet – such as vet bills – is pet insurance. However, not all pet insurance will cover standard vet checks or dental work, or cover certain breeds or old pets. Pet insurance can cost upwards of $250 a year on average, and only about one in four dog owners and one in five cat owners have it in Australia.
Outside of general pet purchase costs, vet bills, food and other similar accessories for your pets, you also have to take into consideration pet grooming costs – particularly if you have an animal that requires special care (such as poodles or long-haired cats), kennel boarding fees or pet-sitter fees if you have to go away and leave the pet behind, local council registration fees, obedience training and buying accessories for your pets.
Getting set up with collars, leads, harnesses, bowls, beds, toys, aquariums, heat lamps and other such needs can leave a big dent in your pocket. Furthermore, you have to take into consideration the cost of pet-proofing your home and backyard against escape artists, digging, climbing, claws and scratching.
This isn’t to put you off pet ownership, as having and loving a pet can be a wonderfully rewarding experience. However, all potential pet-owners should be aware and ready for the costs associated with pet ownership, and plan accordingly.
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