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Getting a pet

How much it costs to own a dog or cat

Page reading time: 4 minutes

Before you bring your furry friend home, make sure they'll suit your budget and lifestyle.

See how much it costs to have a cat or dog. Find out how to get the right pet for you and save money on pet costs.

Cost of owning a pet

Cats and dogs are a big personal and financial commitment.

In the first year, a cat or dog will cost you between $3,000 and $6,000. After your first year, expect to pay up to:

(Source: Pets in Australia report, Animal Medicines Australia)

On top of this, you'll need to pay for vet bills if your pet gets sick or injured. This can be expensive. Add it into your budget and consider whether pet insurance is right for you.

Consider all the costs of owning a pet:

Adopting or buying a pet

  • from $29 to $800 if you adopt, depending on the type of animal and their age
  • $800 to several thousand dollars if you buy from a breeder

Microchipping, vaccinations and de-sexing

  • up to $1,000 in the first year, or free if you adopt

Vet expenses

  • up to $630 each year, depending on your pet's health

Pet healthcare products, such as flea, tick and worming medications

  • up to $320 each year

Pet insurance

  • $60 to $120 each month

Pet essentials such as a collar, bed, bowls, toys, kennel or scratching post

  • up to $500 in the first year, then about $100 each year

Council registration

  • between $40 and $200 per year

Pet food

  • up to $2,024 each year for premium food, plus treats

Boarding kennels and catteries

  • depends on location, time of year, length of stay, breed and size of pet
  • can be from $25 to $105 a night

Other services including grooming and training

  • depends on your lifestyle and type of pet
  • over a year, up to $166 for training and up to $196 for grooming

Work out what you can afford

When you're thinking about getting a pet, look at the costs over your pet's lifetime.

Save for unexpected costs

Consider more than just everyday pet expenses. If your pet gets sick or injured, costs for care could add up fast. To be prepared in case something happens, save for an emergency fund.

Find the right pet for you

Take the time to find a pet that suits your lifestyle and budget.

Breed matters

Research breeds before choosing a new pet. Different breeds have varying temperaments and needs. For example:

Consider where you live

If you work long hours, a breed that gets anxious might not be happy. If you live in a small space, that may not work for one that needs lots of exercise. If your pet gets stressed, they may:

Get a pet from a shelter

Not only can you give them a home, a pet from a shelter will already be de-sexed, wormed and vaccinated.

Getting a pet from a shelter is cheaper than going to a breeder or pet shop. You may also save on local council registration fees.

Save money on pet expenses

Here's how to cut costs while keeping your pet happy and healthy.

Keep your pet healthy

Regular exercise, a good diet and dental care are vital to your pet's health and wellbeing. These things will also save on vet bills.

Speak to your vet early if you notice a problem with your pet. This could prevent it from turning into something more serious. 

Manage vet costs

Getting regular check-ups helps to stay on top of your pet's health. But costs can add up. If you're on a tight budget, be upfront about what you can afford. Ask your vet about payment options. 

Consider lower-cost vet telehealth services instead of an in-person vet visit.

Buy in bulk, on sale or second hand

If you can afford to, it is often cheaper to buy food in bulk. Look for sales on food or other items you need. Check for loyalty discounts if you buy from the same store.

Check online marketplaces when making larger purchases such as a cat carrier or dog bed. 


If you can't take your pet with you, ask a friend to pet-sit in your home. It's cheaper than a kennel or cattery and more comfortable for your pet.

DIY grooming and training

Wash your dog yourself. Look at online videos to learn how to trim their fur and nails. They won't mind if their haircut's not perfect, and you'll save on grooming costs.

Try your hand at training your dog by researching online or joining a free class. 

Make your own toys and treats

Look online to see how to make pet toys and pet treats. Try making things for your pet from items you already have.

For example, peanut butter treats and an old blanket to tug-o-war for a dog. Or for a cat, chicken treats and an odd sock stuffed with paper to play with.