What Does It Cost To Get A Dog In Australia?
Did you know that Australians spend a staggering $3,200 per year on their furry best friend? That’s more than some people spend on vacations or even their wardrobe! While a dog’s wagging tail and loyal companionship may be priceless, the cost of keeping them happy and healthy certainly isn’t.
Welcome to your go-to guide on the true cost of owning a dog—a comprehensive breakdown that goes beyond the bag of kibble and a squeaky toy.
Choosing to bring a dog into your life is a long-term commitment that stretches far beyond the emotional and time investment; it’s a financial commitment too. Unfortunately, many new pet owners find themselves blindsided by unexpected costs, from emergency vet visits to the ongoing expense of quality food and care.
Understanding the full financial landscape of dog ownership can help you prepare adequately, making sure you can provide a stable, loving home for your new family member.
Whether you’re in the ‘just thinking about it’ stage or you’ve already been swept off your feet by a set of puppy dog eyes, this article will unravel the obvious and hidden expenses tied to dog ownership. From upfront costs like adoption fees to recurring expenses and even those unforeseen veterinary emergencies, we’ve got it all covered.
Upfront Costs Of Getting A Dog
Purchase or Adoption Fees
When it comes to bringing a dog into your life, the first question you often face is whether to adopt from a shelter or buy from a breeder.
Prices can vary drastically between the two options. For example, adopting a dog from a shelter might cost you between $50 to $300, depending on the organization and the services included.
On the flip side, purchasing from a breeder can set you back anywhere from $500 to a whopping $10,000 or more, particularly for purebred or “designer” dogs.
Its a good idea to check out potential breeders on national databases to check they are registered, as well as running through a checklist of what to look for when buying a puppy.
It’s crucial to understand what is included in these initial fees. Many shelters offer packages that include initial vaccinations, microchipping, and desexing. Breeders may offer similar packages but be sure to confirm so you’re not hit with unexpected veterinary bills later on. It’s about more than just the sticker price; it’s about the value you’re getting for that price.
One-Off Initial Dog Costs
Initial Veterinary Expenses
Your new pet will need a series of vaccinations to protect against various diseases, costing around $170-$250 depending on the area and the vet clinic. Some shelters include the first set of vaccinations in the adoption fee, but future boosters will be your responsibility.
Find out more about puppy vaccination schedules.
This tiny chip helps identify your dog if they ever get lost, costing between $60 and $80. While some adoption fees include the cost of microchipping, buying from a breeder often means you’ll have to cover this expense separately.
TIP: make sure you register your microchip, companies like the central animal registery can help get lost pets back if they are registered with them! They often have a small fee for premium services.
Spaying or neutering your pet is another essential initial cost, often ranging from a few hundred dollars upwards. Some shelters include this in their adoption fee, but if not, or if you’re buying from a breeder, expect to shell out additional money for this procedure.
The cost of desexing can vary depending on the size of your dog, but in NSW it ranges from $200-$500 with a giant dog being $600.
Regardless of where you get your dog, a first vet visit is crucial to assess general health and discuss a future care plan. Costs for an initial check-up can vary but expect to pay around $50 to $100.
Some vets often do free puppy/kitten check ups, if your on a budget it can help to shop around.
Dog Supplies & Gear
Comfort is key for your new companion. A quality dog bed can cost anywhere from $30 to $150, depending on the size and material.
If you’re planning on crate training your dog, prepare to spend between $25 and $150 for a crate, depending on size and quality. Crate mats or pads for added comfort will be an additional cost.
Engaging your pup’s mind is vital for their well-being. Toys can cost between $1 and $25 each, and trust us, you’ll want a variety of them to keep your dog entertained.
Collars, Harnesses, and Leashes
These are not just accessories but essentials for walking and training your dog. Depending on what you’re looking for in terms of material and durability, you could spend anywhere from $10 to $100 on these items.
Initial Costs Of Getting A Dog
|$500 – 10,000
|$170 – $250
|$60 – $80
|$200 – $500
|Initial Vet Visit
|$50 – $100
|$30 – $150
|$25 – $150
|$1 – $25
|Collars and Leads
|$10 – $100
In summary, while the upfront costs may seem steep, they are an essential investment in your pet’s long-term health and happiness. Keep in mind that many of these costs are one-time or infrequent expenses, but they are crucial for giving your new pet a good start in their new forever home.
Recurring Expenses Of Owning A Dog
Owning a dog doesn’t just entail a one-time payment; it’s a long-term commitment that has ongoing costs. These can add up over time and vary depending on the breed, age, and health of your dog. Here’s what to expect:
Food and Treats
When it comes to feeding your furry friend, options abound from budget kibble to gourmet meals. Costs can range from $20 to $100 per month based on the quality of the food and the size of your dog. Remember that some breeds have special dietary needs that can add to the cost.
Treats aren’t just an indulgence; they’re often essential for training and oral health. Quality chews and treats can cost between $5 and $25 a pack. If you use them frequently for training or simply to spoil your dog, this can add another $10 to $50 to your monthly expenses.
Regular Veterinary Care
Annual veterinary check-ups are crucial for monitoring your pet’s health and catching potential issues early. Depending on your location and the services rendered, these can cost between $50 and $200 per visit.
After the initial series of vaccinations, your dog will require periodic boosters, costing approximately $50 to $100 annually, depending on the vaccines.
Flea and Worm Treatments
Preventing fleas and worms is a lot easier (and less icky) than treating an infestation. Preventative treatments can range from $120 to $300 per year, varying with the size and specific needs of your dog.
Grooming and Hygiene
Professional Grooming Sessions (if applicable)
Depending on the breed and coat type, some dogs require regular grooming sessions, which can range from $30 to $100 per session. Breeds with more complicated grooming needs can cost even more.
Even if you opt for DIY grooming, you’ll need some basic supplies like shampoos, brushes, and nail clippers. These can cost anywhere from $20 to $100 initially, with periodic replacements and refills adding to the expense.
Dog Walker, If Needed
If you’re not home often or can’t take your dog for regular walks, a dog walker can be a godsend. Prices vary greatly depending on your location but generally range from $15 to $30 per walk.
Basic obedience classes are often recommended for new dogs and puppies. These can cost between $50 and $200 for a series of lessons.
Licensing or Council Fees
Most local governments require dogs to be registered, which comes with an annual fee ranging from $10 to $75, depending on your location and the dog’s age and sex.
In summary, while upfront costs may seem like the brunt of pet ownership expenses, don’t underestimate the recurring costs that come with providing the best care for your dog. Budgeting for these will help ensure that you and your furry friend can focus on a lifetime of happy moments, rather than unexpected bills.
So, you’ve planned for the upfront and recurring expenses—great! But what about the financial surprises that can catch any pet owner off guard? Here are some common unexpected costs you should be aware of:
Emergency Veterinary Visits
Dogs are curious creatures and sometimes that curiosity can lead them into trouble, like ingesting foreign objects or suffering from sudden allergies. Emergency vet visits can range from $100 for minor issues to upwards of $1,000 for more severe problems requiring overnight stays or specialized treatment.
Potential Breed-Specific Health Problems
Certain breeds are prone to specific health issues—like hip dysplasia in large breeds or breathing problems in brachycephalic (flat-faced) breeds. The cost of treating these conditions can be substantial. For instance, surgery for hip dysplasia can cost between $1,500 and $3,000 per hip.
Brachycephalic, or ‘Bracky Dogs’ for short, are becoming more and more common. When you first get one of these dogs, its a really good idea to take them to a vet and get a full assessment of their breathing – vets can often tell if they will need surgery very early one. Brachycephalic surgery is often done in the first year of a dogs life and can often not be covered by insurance if it is pre-existing.
Tip: Having information related to your dogs specific risk facts can be super helpful in asking your insurance provider for specific advise. No one wants to pay for something for 2 years only to realise its not covered, so ask your vet early if they are susceptible to later issues.
Cost of Surgeries or Other Treatments
Apart from breed-specific issues, dogs can suffer from various illnesses that require surgery or specialized treatments. The cost can vary widely based on the severity of the condition and the required treatment but expect to pay anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars. For example, cancer treatments can go well beyond $5,000, depending on the type and stage.
Value of Pet Insurance
Owning a pet comes with joys and responsibilities, including financial ones that can be unpredictable. This is where pet insurance comes into play. But what does pet insurance cover, and is it worth the cost? Let’s dig in.
Types of Pet Insurance
Basic vs. Comprehensive
Pet insurance can vary greatly in what they cover, and consequently, in cost. Basic plans might only cover accidents like a broken bone or ingestion of a foreign object, typically not including preventive care or hereditary conditions. These basic plans can be budget-friendly but might leave you with significant out-of-pocket costs for other types of vet visits.
Comprehensive plans, on the other hand, cover a much broader range of healthcare needs, including preventive care, vaccinations, and even chronic illnesses and hereditary conditions. These plans are more expensive but offer more extensive coverage.
Cost of Premiums
The cost of pet insurance premiums can vary widely, often ranging from around $200 to $4,000 a year. Several factors contribute to this variation:
- The breed of your dog (some breeds are more susceptible to certain illnesses)
- Your dog’s age (older dogs are more likely to have health issues)
- Geographical location (vet care is more expensive in some areas)
- The type of coverage you choose (basic vs. comprehensive)
Peace of Mind vs. Financial Commitment
- Financial Security: An unexpected health issue can be financially crippling. Pet insurance can offer a safety net.
- Better Care: With insurance, you might be more likely to seek medical help as soon as an issue arises, ensuring better health outcomes for your pet.
- Customization: Many plans allow you to customize your coverage and deductibles to meet your financial situation and healthcare needs of your pet.
- Cost: Premiums add another expense to your budget and over time can add up, especially if you rarely use the insurance.
- Not All-Inclusive: Even comprehensive plans have exclusions and limitations, meaning you’ll still have some out-of-pocket costs.
- Complexity: Understanding what is and isn’t covered can be complicated, requiring a fair amount of research and potentially leading to unexpected costs.
Choosing to invest in pet insurance is a decision that should be weighed carefully, considering both your financial situation and the likely healthcare needs of your pet. The peace of mind knowing that you have a financial cushion can be invaluable, but it comes at a price that isn’t insignificant. Make sure to do your due diligence and choose the plan that best fits your needs and those of your furry friend.
Written by Dr. Angie, the brilliant veterinary mind behind Pet Circle Insurance. With over 15 years of experience in the veterinary field and hands-on experience in handling insurance claims, Angie is a trusted and reliable source of truth when it comes to all things pet-related. Her passion for small animal medicine, nutrition, and the human-animal bond shines through in her work with the Pet Circle Veterinary Squad, where she provides top-notch advice and support to pet owners.