News Advisor The real cost of a summer pet

The real cost of a summer pet

Summer puppy
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There may be nothing cuter than taking a little puppy or kitten to the beach for the first time, but there are a few downsides to a summer pet.

Australian Veterinary Association vice president David Neck tells The New Daily that the holiday season is not the best time to introduce a new little ball of fur to your household.

“There’s a lot of coming and going, there’s a lot of travelling involved, there’s a lot of people that want to be away or drunk and out partying, and it’s actually not a good time to have young puppies and kittens come through and try to give them a routine to get used to,” Dr Neck says.

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The little terrors are terribly cute, of course. No one could blame you for joining the 39 per cent of households that own a dog, or 29 per cent with a cat.

Summer pets
We won’t cost too much, promise! Photo: Shutterstock

In fact, RSPCA Australia thinks the summer holidays are a great time to adopt.

“It gives your family time to help your new pet adjust, starting training and get to know each other,” says an RSPCA spokesperson.

Did you know there are 19 dogs for every 100 Australians? It sure is easy to get lost in the dreamy eyes of Rex or Simba, and to forget all about “the little costs that add up”, Dr Neck warns.

Between now and the next News Year’s Day, your new pet could cost you up to $4,000, according to ASIC MoneySmart. Depending on the breed, the puppy or kitten itself could be between $200 and $2,000 of that initial cost.

The total cost of owning a dog or cat is between $13,000 and $25,000, ASIC MoneySmart estimates based on previous research.

Here is what else you can expect to shell out for your new pet.

Vet expenses

Summer kitten
Vet bills are just one of the ongoing costs of a kitten. Photo: Shutterstock

These include microchipping, vaccination, de-sexing, worming, flea treatments and regular vet check ups.

Vet bills can add up to $800 in the first year and then about $200 every year depending on the health of your pet and how accident prone they are, ASIC MoneySmart says.

Flea treatments alone can cost up to $130 a year.

Later in life, these costs can increase even more because your pet might need extra treatments, such as for arthritis and decaying teeth, ASIC MoneySmart says.

Pet food

Pet owners spend an estimated $2.7 billion on cat and dog food each year, according to Animal Health Alliance.

Premium dog food can cost up to $360 per year, ASIC MoneySmart estimates.


Over half of all expenditure on pet products and accessories is for dogs, Animal Health Alliance says.

The usual accessories, such as collars and leads, food and water bowls, kennels, beds, toys, toilet mats and kitty litter and scratching posts, can set you back up to $500 initially and then an extra $100 per year, ASIC MoneySmart estimates.

Pet insurance

Summer puppy
Don’t close your eyes to the real cost of a puppy. Photo: Shutterstock

This optional extra is “really increasing in popularity,” says AVA vice president David Neck.

“It can certainly take away the sting of an unexpected veterinary bill, but what it doesn’t take away are those day-to-day, ongoing maintenance costs and you should think about those before you get the pet,” he says.

ASIC MoneySmart says it is important to calculate if the cost of the insurance premium is worth the coverage you will receive, and what exclusions apply.

Other costs include obedience training, grooming, dog walking, boarding fees if you can’t take your pet on holidays, and local council registration.

Holiday accommodation

Ebony Centazzo, owner of Cat Napping Suburban Retreat in Melbourne, tells The New Daily that  cat owners can spend “a lot of money” boarding their pet when they go away.

“I have some regular customers that travel a few times a year and could $700-$1000 on making sure their cat is well cared for while they are not around,” Ms Centazzo says.

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