The Real Cost Of Pet Ownership

As all the best people in the world know, the only point of our brief tenure on this Earth is to eventually own a puppy. Dogs are fantastic, and they are worthwhile goals to work towards. (Also cats too, I suppose.) However, they bring a significant change to your life, and it’s worth planning for the costs – financial and otherwise, to ensure you’re not suddenly left unable to adequately care for your sunshine animal. According to the Australian Veterinary Association, the average cost of a pet is $25,000 over its lifetime, and that’s if you’re lucky.

How Much Is That Doggy in The Window?

A pet will cost money from the get-go, although the actual amount will change according to whether you’re adopting or shopping from a store or a breeder. A designer breed could set you back to around $1,500. If you rescue a dog from a shelter, it could be from $150 – $300 depending on age and breed.

You might also have to shell out some money for vaccinations, de-sexing and microchipping, up to another $1000 worth. However, adopting a dog will usually mean most of these costs are included. Can you work out my bias yet? Cats are generally on the cheaper scale of all of this, except for the super expensive breeds, like the weird no-hair ones.

You’ll also need leashes and carry-cages and nametags and other one-off necessities. You might also “need” lots of cute little jumpers and toys.

Cause If There’s One Thing That She Don’t Need It’s Another Hungry Mouth To Feed

Pets have a bunch of regular, day-to-day costs that are worth considering. Much like you and your human friends, they must eat. This could be an insignificant cost if it’s a cat and you’re earning a decent amount of money, but if you’ve got a Labrador and casual job, it could eat your wage right up and beg for more. Fancy pet food can be over-expensive, and –funnily enough – not particularly healthy for the pet.

You can cut costs and make your animal fart less if you make their food yourself, or find alternatives – for example, you can feed a cat or small dog from tins of cheap sardines. The natural oils are fantastic for their coats, and they are very cheap.

There’s also flea, tick and worming treatment to consider, which depending on size of animal can cost between $300-$450 per year. Some animals need regular grooming – we had a Poodle growing up, which needed a monthly haircut, because it had wool like a lamb.

Stop Trying TO Make Fetch Happen

For most dogs, training is a crucial cost. Responsible ownership of dogs means that a certain amount of control must be trained into them – for both their safety and society’s. A dog that cannot safely be let off leash in the right areas is unfortunately going to live a less fulfilling life, and it’s a shame to cause that through simple laziness.

Puppy school and basic training classes are usually around $50 – $125 per session, although there are some councils and vet services that will offer free lessons. If you’ve gone down the good-person route of adopting a rescue-dog, there could be added levels of difficulty with training, and it might be worthwhile going the more expensive behaviouralist route. These professionals will usually come to your home for one-on-one analysis of your dog, and then work with you to get the animal to the best place they can be. It can change between services, but a ballpark (pun intended) figure can be around $200-$250 per session.

Sometimes this will also require animal psychological medication, which is an additional cost. As someone who has owned two extremely anxious rescue dogs, this costlier route ended up being the only efficient way to live with our dogs and their behaviour.

Home Is Where The Bark Is

Some of the steepest costs involved in pet ownership are ones that are quite difficult to calculate, namely the cost of how exponentially more difficult renting becomes. If you’re in Sydney or parts of Melbourne, the already difficult prospect of finding a decent rental property becomes almost impossible.

While there are moves to remove pet-ownership as a bias from properties, until that happens, animal lovers are looking at a diminished pool of pet-friendly properties, a much harder time with their applications, and increased competition with other pet owners, who all tend to pounce on any half-decent property with a backyard and an intact roof.

There’s a very good chance that you’ll end up paying much more than you want in an already outrageous rental market so that you have a home suitable for your animal, or you’ll have to move to the strange outer-fringes of the city, and spend more money travelling back in.

Another cost can be the degree of power neighbours and other terrible people have to complain about barking and other noises. You can be fined, and you can also spend a lot of money on conciliatory muffin efforts.

But Get A Dog, OK?

While it’s worth considering these costs, I can tell you now that I managed to successfully care for two highly expensive, accident-prone, anxious rescue dogs on an absolutely ludicrous lack of funds, so it is doable.

And pets also save you money – they are indispensable for mental health, and you also probably save costs on never going out anymore. Why would you want to, when you have cute snouts to boop at home?

Canine Expenditure


Patrick Lenton is a writer and digital marketer. He runs Town Crier, a social media and marketing consultancy for authors.