So you want a pet: things to consider

You may have seen your friends on social media or work colleagues show up on their work video calls with their new four-legged family member. There is no doubt pets are great companions, and proven to be both physically and psychologically beneficial for us two-legged creatures[1]. The outbreak of COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we socialise and as a result, is driving growth in pet adoption and short-term pet fostering programmes that will hopefully translate into long-term pet ownership. However, economic obstacles due to COVID-19 have also resulted in some experts sharing their concerns for post-pandemic pet abandonments[2].

If you are considering becoming a pet parent, you may have already started budgeting for some of the associated costs. To help give you a realistic expectation of the cost of becoming a pet parent, here are some things to consider to help you budget appropriately.

Pet Food

Just like us humans, animals need to eat well to stay well. Some aspects to consider when budgeting for pet foods include their life stages (puppy/kitten, adult, senior), size, breed and health requirement of your pet(s). For example, the cost of food will change over time as a large breed puppy grows into an adult. The pet food market in Australia today offers an array of choices to meet most household budgets while adhering to quality standards.  Often breeders or, if you’re taking home a rescue pet, will recommend you continue to feed your pet with the food they’re used to. If you want to transition your pet onto another type of food, read up on how to do this in the bst interests of your pet to avoid refusals or tummy upsets.

Health/Veterinary Care

Healthy pets are happy pets. Some health aspects you need to consider are one-time veterinary services (i.e. microchipping for registration (compulsory for dogs and cats from  three months); puppy vaccinations (four in total from the age of six weeks -16 weeks; covers Distemper, Parainfluenza, Rabies and Parvovirus) and de-sexing); as well as routine veterinary services such as yearly vaccinations and heartworm injections (if chosen over monthly tablets).

There are pet healthcare products that can be purchased from your local pet stores or grocery stores such as monthly tick/flea and worming treatments, supplements and ear cleaners and mineral/vitamin drops (birds and rabbits). Accidents and illnesses can be unpredictable, and therefore the cost of unexpected surgeries involved may need to be factored into your budget.

Pet insurance (dogs and cats only) is not compulsory, however policies can help to ease the upfront cost of vet bills in case of an emergency. There are a wide variety of pet insurance options available, and you can research or use comparison websites to make the best choice for you and your pet.

Products or accessories

Other costs include toys, bedding, collars, leashes/harnesses, food/water bowls, scratchers and height accessories (for cats). Cages and equipment are needed if you are going to keep small mammals, fish and reptiles. There are many ways to get creative with supplying your pet with these products, however make sure these are safe and meeting your pets’ biological needs.


  • Clipping/grooming (dogs and cats only): Some breeds may require more grooming than others. Make sure you understand the requirements ahead of getting a new petto avoid any adverse effectsand costs that can arise from  poor grooming.
  • Boarding/pet minding: Happily, while many holiday sites and leisure spaces are now allowing pets to be join their owners on domestic holidays, travelling with pets can be challenging at times. If you don’t have friends, family, or neighbours who can look after your pets while you’re away, you will need to consider pet boarding or minding services.
  • Training/behaviour/therapy: For dog and /puppy owners, training your -four-legged friend is important to help all of you live harmoniously together.
  • Transport: remember that there are costs involved to take your pets to the vet such as petrol, tolls, car hire if you don’t own your own, and where allowed, public transport or pet-friendly taxis or Ubers.
  • Walking: If you are a full-time worker and need to leave your furry friend at home for long hours, this may be something to consider to meet your pet’s daily exercise needs.

The upfront and ongoing costs of being a responsible pet owner are unavoidable.  However, the joy, loyalty, empathy and happiness these furry, scaly and feathery friends bring you are priceless. To us humans, pets may live in parts of our lives; however to our pets, we ARE their entire lives.

Other useful resources:

Pets in Australia, Animal Medicines Australia

Getting a Pet, How much it costs to own a dog or cat

Cost of Owning a Dog

The Annual Cost of Pet Ownership: Can you Afford a Furry Friend?

Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

[1] RSPCA Australia (2020) – What are the Health Benefits of pet ownership?

[2] Euromonitor 2020 – The Impact of Coronavirus on Pet Care