How much does it cost to own a cat or a dog in Australia?

cat in sunglasses

Getting a dog or a cat can be a life-changing, rewarding – and expensive – experience. From food and toys to vaccinations and pet insurance, there are a lot of associated pet costs to consider. But how much of an investment are our pets?

Here’s a rundown of how much you may need to budget for your pet.

Costs of owning a dog

Puppy and adult boxer, text:

Depending on your dog's size, breed, and health, they could live for up to twenty years and cost you between $900 - $3,000 annually in Australia. 

That’s between $18,000 and $60,000 overall, not including first-year expenses like adoption fees or vaccinations. Woof.

Here are the important line items for dog owners to consider.

Upfront dog costs: $1,800 - $6,500 in the first year

  • Adoption or purchase fees. Adoptions can either come free or for a price, while if you buy from a registered and reputable breeder, your puppy could cost between $500 and $3,000.
  • Bed, bowls, kennel, and toys. Depending on the size and breed of your dog, you could spend up to $500. 
  • Collar, name tag, leash, and car harness or restraint. Keep them leashed and identified! These necessities could cost between $50 - $100 in total.
  • Microchipping, puppy vaccinations, and desexing surgery. Free if you adopt, but otherwise, these procedures could cost over $1,000.
  • Flea, tick, and worm medications and preventative treatments. These medications are vital for keeping your puppy healthy, running between $120 - $300.
  • Food and treats. Puppies require specialised diets, so upfront food costs could land in the realm of $800 - $1000 for the first year.
  • Grooming and obedience training. These costs vary depending on lifestyle, but elite groomers can set you back $150 - $200 a session, while training runs from as low as $20 for a single group class to $250 for a private 4-week course.
  • Council registration. Unless exempt, your dog must be microchipped and registered with your local council by the time it's six months old. Fees range between $20 - $200, with more dangerous breeds costing more. Registration can sometimes be once per lifetime or yearly.

Ongoing dog costs: $900 - $3,000 a year

  • Pet insurance. Mozo’s research found that your dog’s breed can affect your premium, with the national average clocking in at $716 a year. Pet insurance can still be a necessary financial safety net if your dog gets sick or injured. Weigh the pros and cons of cheap pet insurance if your budget is tight.
  • Annual vaccinations and vet bills. Yearly checkups and vaccines can range between $90 to $450, depending on your dog’s health and provider.
    Food. Depending on the quality, dog food can cost between $600 - $800 a year.
  • Flea, tick, and worm treatments. Depending on your dog's size, ongoing worming and parasite medications can come at around $300 - $450 a year.
  • Grooming. You can go basic or fancy with grooming, but usually, this costs around $70 - $200 per session, with overall costs depending on frequency and breed.
  • Toys and treats. Gotta reward a good boy or girl! Depending on how spoiled your dog is, you could spend between $30 - $150 a year on toys and treats. 

And this is assuming nothing unexpected happens, like if your dog eats something it shouldn’t and needs emergency vet attention. 

However, expenses can be misleading if you just look at the numbers. For example, if you spend roughly $75 a month on your broadband bill, it’s comparable to the monthly cost of owning a cheap dog breed ($900 a year).

Costs of owning a cat

Adult Siamese cat and kitten, text:

Cats tend to be a relatively cheaper pet – at least compared to dogs. With a max lifespan of 20 years, upfront costs can stack up in the $1,000 - $2,500 range in Australia, while yearly expenses range from as low as $720 to as high as $2,000.

Let’s break down the line items cat owners can expect.

Upfront cat costs: $1,000 - $2,500

  • Adoption and purchase fees. Some rescue centres let you adopt for free, while others may charge you. Buying from a registered cat breeder could set you back between $500 - $2,000 or more.
  • Bed, bowls, scratching posts, toys. Comfort and stimulation are vital for cats, especially if they’re going to live indoors full-time. These necessities could set you back between $75 - $200.
  • Kitty litter and tray. Some high-end hidden cat litters designed to mimic household plants or sculptures can run into the $200 - $300 range. Otherwise, a standard tray plus kitty litter shouldn’t be more than $50 in total.
  • Collar and name tag. Oh, the joy of naming your furbaby! A collar and tag usually cost between $15 - $30, depending on the style and quality.
  • Cat carrier. Depending on the style and amenities, cat carriers normally range between $40 - $90.
  • Microchipping, kitten vaccinations, and desexing surgery. Again, these tend to be free if you adopt (or the breeder does it for you), but these could cost up to $1,000 in the first year.
  • Flea, tick, and worm medications and preventative treatments. Depending on your cat's health and size, these medications could run from $200 - $400.
  • Food and treats. Kittens, in particular, need specialised food, so the first year could set you back from $350 up, depending on the quality.
  • Grooming. Depending on how often you take your new cat to the groomer’s, it could be between $50 - $100 a session.
  • Council registration. Council registration is mandatory for cats at least six months old. Upfront lifetime fees fall between $20 - $150. Some councils may require you to renew your registration once yearly, meaning there’s an annual fee.

Ongoing cat costs: $720 - $2,000

  • Pet insurance. Cats tend to be cheaper to insure, but it will vary based on their breed, size, age, location, and health history. Average premiums for cats run from $20 - $60 per month.
  • Kitty litter, food, toys, and treats. Since kitty litter and food are regular expenses, it might make sense to subscribe to a regular delivery service. This can set you back roughly $30 - $100 every few weeks in total.
  • Annual checkups and vaccinations. Depending on your vet and insurance, out-of-pocket costs for your cat could range from $150 to $300 per year.
  • Grooming. Yes, cats need grooming – especially if they have long hair or are old and can’t quite groom themselves. You can do a lot to look after them with regular brushing, but it may cost between $50 - $100 a session. 

Unexpected expenses, like emergency surgery, or even cosmetic choices like de-clawing can swing the budget either way. But with their serenity and self-sufficiency, cats can make a worthwhile addition to any home, irregardless of the cost.

Is pet insurance worth it?

Pet insurance is a kind of policy designed to reimburse eligible costs incurred at the vet if your pet gets sick or injured. While you'll still have to handle the initial vet bills upfront, the right pet insurance policy could put some money back in your pocket if your claim is covered. 

Keep in mind pet insurance is meant for people who can pay the monthly or annual premium and handle the upfront costs of veterinary care, as well as any costs that exceed the claim amount. 

That being said, pet insurance can ease the financial burden of taking care of your fur-baby when they're ill or injured. It's all about finding the right policy for your needs, and making sure the coverage is good value.

Looking after your pet means more than just cuddles. Compare pet insurance below, or head to our best pet insurance page for some award-winning policies.

Compare pet insurance policies - last updated 23 May 2024

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* Terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits may apply to any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. These terms, conditions, exclusions, limits and sub-limits could affect the level of benefits and cover available under any of the insurance products shown on the Mozo website. Please refer to the relevant Product Disclosure Statement and the Target Market Determination on the provider's website for further information before making any decisions about an insurance product.

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