Approximately 40% of households have a pet dog and 25% have a pet cat.  There is some overlap but it’s likely that at least half of all households have some kind of pet when you include birds, fish, rabbits and other animals.

Initial Costs

Some pets like designer doodle dogs cost thousands of dollars but many pets are acquired for minimal cost or free.  We bought our rabbits for $50 each.

Unfortunately the cost of a pet goes far beyond the initial purchase price because you will also need some kind of set up for your new pet (enclosure, carry case, bedding, toys etc). This cost can be anything up to $1,000 if purchased new.

Cats & Dogs also need to be registered with your local council.  City of Sydney charges from $65 to $252 for this.  De-sexed animals are cheaper to register.  De-sexed cats and dogs rescued from an approved shelter can be registered for free.


If you are keeping your pet inside then you will need to do some pet-proofing.  A dog will at least feel guilty about damaging your stuff but a 2kg rabbit left unsupervised for long enough will remorselessly destroy your house.

We spent several hundred dollars at Bunnings buying cable protectors and other items to stop the rabbits from destroying our cords, pot plants and walls.  Scrap pieces of cardboard can do that job too though.

Cats, dogs and rabbits can be toilet trained but that takes time. Until then you need to be prepared to clean up the mess they make. One of our rabbits christened our new sofa. Luckily we left the plastic on the cushions and the covers are machine washable.  We had bought a plastic cover and a king sized sheet to put over the sofa but forgot to put it on.


Some people suggest that pet food is expensive but it depends on the animal.  Rabbits eat hay, pellets, vegetables and fruit scraps.  We are spending around $20-30 per week.

Vet Bills

Then there are vet bills:

  • Initial check up $100-$200.
  • Vaccinations $100-$200 each (most pets need more than 1 vaccination).
  • Flea/Tick/Worm treatment $50-$100 per 3 months.
  • De-sexing $200-$500.

If you have 2 pets (because the little guy needs a mate to stop him from being lonely….) then you can double these amounts.

The first vet bill we received for our 2 rabbits was $320. They quoted us nearly $2,000 for the follow up appointments (vaccinations + de-sexing).

It is possible to shop around for a cheaper deal and we managed to get that cost down to around half. But it’s not easy and that cost still ended up being over $1,000.

Some people take the attitude of not spending money on a vet and getting a new pet if the first one dies. For most people losing a pet is too heart-breaking so they will do anything to extend its life as long as possible.

Pet Insurance

It’s not uncommon for pet owners to spend $10,000 treating illnesses or injuries to their pets.  Pet insurance can cover up to 80% of that cost but it does have some limitations:

  1. Only covers cats & dogs (not rabbits or other types of pets).
  2. Only covers unexpected illnesses & injuries (not routine treatments listed above)
  3. Usually has a maximum amount that can be claimed per case and per year.
  4. The cost of the insurance is likely to exceed the cost of your future vet bills.

A well looked after pet can live for more than 10 years.  Unfortunately several times when I have told people I have a rabbit they have responded that they used to have a rabbit too but it died.  The reasons for this are either due to poor diet or they had a female rabbit that died of uterine cancer. De-sexing eliminates the risk of uterine cancer.


It’s not always possible to take your pet on holiday with you so unless you have friends or family who can look after your pet you will need a Pet Hotel or pet sitting service. You will need to factor this cost into your holiday planning. Luxury pet boarding services can cost over $100 per day.

I asked Terry our work experience student to write about his dog Scarlett (pictured above).  This is what he said:

Owning a dog comes with a bundle of enjoyment and fun whilst you create everlasting memories, however owning a dog is not as fun for your bank account. You may be enticed to buy a dog after all the stories you’ve heard from friends about how cute and wonderful their furry friend is but they don’t tell you how expensive it is. Before you even buy a dog you need to dog proof your house and think about all the damages your new dog will do.


If you plan to have your dog indoors you will need to dog proof every room individually. This comes with a hefty price. A kitchen will be rattled with many non-dog friendly items like food, medications and cleaning supplies. You may need to put a lot of dog proof fences which may become an inconvenience for your day to day life. Nor is cheap at the bare minimum each fence costs at least $50 with some higher quality fences ranging to close to $100.

Depending on the size of your residence you may need to install 5-10 dog proof fences and gates to make sure your dog doesn’t enter areas where it came harm itself. Which will end up costing a minimum of $500. The living room is another area where the dog can terrorize expensive furniture such as tables, chairs and the risk of dogs leaving feces or urine on your furniture which is a nightmare to clean and may need replacing.

Dog-proofing continued

Not to forget putting a form of protection on cables which will cost you around $30 per protector for each cable. For the backyard you may need to put more dog proof fencing enclosing areas where the dog can hurt itself. All of these precautions come with a large sum of money needed and a lot of time invested installing and dog proofing your house, it could cost you a couple thousand at least dog proofing every room of your house with cable protection and the replacement of cupboards that your dog won’t get into not to add furniture replacement when your dog chews on furniture out of boredom or runs into the glass coffee table destroying the table but also your dog may get cut also which inevitably leads to more vet bills which aren’t cheap at all.

Deciding a breed of dog

Before even getting a dog you need to decide which breed you desire. Some dogs can be very expensive for example the french bulldog ranging anywhere from $3,500 to north of $9,000 if you want a specific color. My family wanted an all black German Shepherd from a breeder. Which ended up costing $3,500 but not all dogs are this expensive. You can get a rescued dog from the shelter for a very small fee. However the average price range if you want a purebred dog ranges from $1,000- $4,000.

Vet Bills

Then you must count all vet bills including flea and worming treatments costing $100-$150 which needs to be done every two weeks until 12 weeks of age, then monthly until 6 months of age then after that every 3 months. Your dog should have monthly vet inspections and checkups which will cost you $85 for the first checkup than $70 every month. You are recommended to do monthly check-ups on your dog to make sure it is safe from diseases and remains healthy, so if you do a checkup every month on your dog for the next 10 years that will cost $8,400. That bill is excluding de-sexing your dog if you choose to and other treatments to any injury or disease your dog may get in its lifetime you will also need to vaccinate and microchip.


This is ensuring your dog is healthy you also will need to ensure your dog is happy so that means buying food, toys, kennel for shelter and treats. For food I order one bag per month of maxi-canine 15kg. The amount of food needed for your dog will vary depending on the size of the dog since I own a German shepherd she requires more food compared to a dog of a smaller size. Each bag costs $163 and I will also need to buy meat from a butcher to give it a variety of food. I will spend another $40 per month on meat so it escalates to $203 per month.


Toys must have to keep your dog entertained from your personal furniture and destroying your vegetable gardens. To ensure your dog won’t destroy anything you want to keep you will need to buy toys to keep it entertained, but toys won’t be enough. You will have to play with your dog for multiple hours and take it for two walks a day to ensure your dog stays fit and healthy. This involves a lot of time invested and effort.

Dogs involve a lot of time spent with them and a lot of money.



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