If you are one of the 3 in 5 Australian households who owns a pet you probably won’t be surprised to know Aussies spent $12.2 billion dollars on pet products in 2016. That’s a lot of money that could be used elsewhere. So how do we manage the cost of owning our furry friends?
The main reasons many love to have pets are:
• teaching kids responsibility
• relaxation and
The main reasons some of us DON’T choose to have pets are:
• home or lifestyle not suitable
• body corporate rules or
• we don’t want the responsibility
The positives of pet ownership
There is no doubt our Aussie lifestyle and climate is perfect for a pet-loving nation. In fact we have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. Research also shows there are various health benefits that may be associated with pet ownership including:
• increased cardiovascular health
• more physical activity (especially dog owners)
• fewer visits to the doctor
• strengthened immune system and reduced risk of allergies (when growing up with a dog)
Research has also shown owning a pet can have psychological benefits including:
• children who own pets seem more empathetic and have higher self esteem
• teenagers with pets have a more positive outlook on life and show fewer signs of loneliness, despair and boredom
• enhanced social connectedness and social skills
In a digital world rife with bullying it’s good to hear pets have a positive effect on kids and teens.
Pet owners generally report less depression and appear to cope with grief, stress and loss better than those who don’t own pets. The role of pets in the lives of the elderly has been proven to have a positive effect for those in nursing homes or assisted care.
The cost of owning pets
Before embarking on pet ownership it’s important to factor the cost into your household budget. Many of us may have been caught off guard when that cute puppy or kitten translated into many hundreds of dollars in food, care and vet bills each year. Perhaps even new fencing? One client recently took her cat to the vet and ended up with a $1,000 bill. Ouch!
Research shows the average cost of owning a pet is $1,475 pa per dog and $1,029 pa per cat – not including unexpected costs. The cheapest pet? A goldfish comes in at around $50 pa.
Based on these figures a household with a dog and a cat could spend $25,000+ over their lifespan!
Budgeting for our furry friends
Depending on the breed or source of your pet your initial purchase cost alone could be between $200 and $3,500+.
The average ongoing costs per annum per dog are: food ($622), vet care ($397), health products ($248), grooming ($129) and boarding ($86)1. Estimating your costs, allocating these in your budget and exploring where you can save on other expenses to compensate for your furry friend will help ensure your beloved pet does not result in a cost blowout.
The role of pet insurance
As medical technology and level of veterinary care advance, so too has the cost of treatments. Sadly, an unexpected illness or injury could result in the heartbreaking decision to have a pet euthanised if the cost of treatment is simply unaffordable.
Pet insurance is a growing industry with a number of providers. In 2016 about 25% of dog owners and 20% of cat owners had pet insurance at an average annual cost less than $3001.
As with all insurances it pays to do your research and know the terms and conditions of the policy. It is not always available for older pets and may not cover routine visits such as vaccinations, dental and desexing. Premiums could also be higher for certain breeds.
Need help with your family budget? We’re always here to assist. Being prepared for the cost of owning our beloved pets will ensure we enjoy them for many years.