Nov 23

Is the first year of caring for a pet the most expensive?

There’s no denying that the first year of caring for a pet is one of the most expensive. The good news is that most of these costs are one-offs.
Ballpark first year costs, one-offs
  • Desexing: For dogs, it’s usually between $200-$500. This depends on your pet’s size and essentially, your vet. Some clinics have a fee that includes a pre-anaesthetic blood test, plus intravenous fluids to support blood pressure and organs pre and post surgery. Other clinics quote less and offer these as add-ons. Desexing a female is always more than the equivalent sized male as well, because it involves entering the abdomen. Desexing a male (usually) only involves a more superficial wound in the area of the testicles. For cats, it’s around $100 (male) and $300 (female). As for dogs above, the male’s surgery is usually minimally invasive.
  • Puppy school: Around $80 for 4 weeks. Early socialisation is so important and this is a must-do.
  • Vaccinations: Puppies and kittens require an initial course of 2-3, which is between $210 to $360. Again, this comes down to your vet. It varies per clinic depending on your location, the vaccines used, your pet’s breed and age.
  • Doggy essentials: Bedding ($100-200), Collar ($20), Leash ($20), Water + Food Bowls ($20), Car Harness ($30), Name tag ($10-20), Brush ($10).
  • Kitty essentials: Bedding ($100-200), Collar ($20), Cat Carrier ($40), Litter Tray ($15), Scratching Post ($40), Leash ($20), Water + Food Bowls ($20), Name tag ($10-20), Brush ($10).
  • Microchipping: About $50. Puppies and kittens should come to you already microchipped, however some ‘backyard’ breeders don’t do it. Some council also provide “cheap” microchipping days too. Tip: make sure you transfer details into your name as soon as possible, it can be difficult if the ownership transfer hasn’t been done correctly from the start.
Monthly first year costs
  • Parasite protection (fleas, ticks, heartworm, worms): Depends on your pets size, breed, location and physical environment. Dogs $15-20. Cats approx $12.
  • Toys and treats: Let’s say $10-20. It’s important to change things up and keep play fun, so worth investing here.
  • Food: Cost here differs greatly according to the quality of the food provided, and the energy needs of the pet. Approx $60 for a dog, $30 for a cat.
  • Cat Litter: Averages $10. Depends on type that suits your cat.
  • Pet insurance: If you’re worried about being able to afford large non-budgeted-for vet bills, this is a great option. Cost varies with the cover you need and the insurance you’ve selected, but on average, budget for about $30-40 per month.
2-3 monthly first year costs for dogs
  • Grooming: This all depends on the length of hair, size of pet and whether you do frequent mini grooms or the full shebang. A ballpark range is $40-105.
Yearly costs 
  • Council registration: Depending on your council, this could be $20 or more like $200. It’s also more expensive for non-desexed pets.
  • Obedience training: For dogs, this ranges from $20 to $250 depending on format (local groups in parks vs. one-on-one help). It’s essential for manners and recall.
  • Grooming: (cat) $30pa  (+~ $150 with clipping)
Pooch’s ballpark (not including insurance)
TOTAL: $2,500 (+~$320 with clipping small dog)
Kitty’s ballpark (not including insurance)
TOTAL: $1,900 (+~$150 with clipping)
The Ballpark Cost Series
So how did we arrive at these totals? And what other costs come with caring for a pet?
Read the Vetchat Ballpark Cost Series. It goes into detail on the price of buying a pet upfront, the things you’ll need to pay for in the first year, plus ongoing expenses like pet foodvet visits and grooming.

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Dr. Claire Jenkins

Claire is a QLD graduate with over 15 years experience as a neighbourhood Veterinarian in Australia and the UK. Animal lover and the founder of Vetchat, born from a passion to help pet carers everywhere access trusted advice earlier, for healthier, happier pets. Grateful to be carer to her beautiful Red-dog.