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Unexpected costs of owning a pet

A new CHOICE article outlining ten important and potentially unexpected costs of owning a pet - are there any others you’ve come across?


It’s not just annual check ups- any visit to the vet is big dollars! Tablets for heartworm etc are quite expensive though.
For us grooming isn’t a big cost, just a brush and a furminator does the trick, along with an occasional wash in the bath.
Training costs? do it yourself for no cost!


Those are some great points. I questioned training costs as well, never having had to use a training service myself, but I’ve heard from friends who have particularly naughty puppies, that it can get quite expensive.
As our pets age, vet visits tend to become more costly so it’s good to keep all these potential costs in mind even if they don’t affect you and your pet until later on.


Accidents, genetic defects (hip, joints, breathing difficulties with flat faced breeds, etc), conditions of old age (cancer, liver, kidney, arthritis, heart, incontinence etc)

Fencing, containment. Damage due to boredom. All the unessential “must-haves” - toys, tubs, leads, kitty towers, cat herbage, tags, beds, cooling mats, coats etc etc etc.


As I have said for many years, the purchase price of a pet, if any, is irrevalent in comparison to the total cost of ownership as per all the expenses listed under this topic.

In regard to the price of a pet, there are 2 aspects.

An expensive pet, particularly dogs, will generally reflect how attractive or desirable it is, and thus the increased risk of it being stolen.

A cheap or free pet will often reflect how it will be valued and cared for or otherwise. Easy come, easy go.

A former English dog breeder who worked for me many years ago said that he never gave away any puppy as he firmly believed that it would be likely to not be valued, something that I have observed many times since then.


Most of this is training the owner how to handle a dog. Naughty puppies come from foolish owners who chose the wrong dog for their circumstances or deigned to learn how to deal with them. Unless you pick up dogs that have been mistreated (not advisable unless you are experienced) if you want to know why your pup misbehaves look in the mirror.

As for cremation, I suppose if you live in a unit you have little choice. I prefer to dig a hole, the last service that you do for an old friend who has served you well should not be outsourced if you can manage it.


We have chooks, and someone has to stay home to let them out of the hutch in the mornings and lock them away in at nights.

Whole of family holidays can’t happen as don’t have anyone who can step in to assist.


I’m sorry but I disagree that the cost of desexing can be counted as ‘unexpected.’ It’s not a secret that animals need desexing and rates are fairly standard. The only way it’s unexpected is if you haven’t done even a google search as research before buying.


All you need is to install some roosts in your trailer and go to pet friendly accommodation.


Pet medical insurance?


The only true UNexpected costs from that list are 1. premium foods if a vet-advised diet is needed, 2. future health care for conditions not common to that breed, and 3. health care for injuries / accidents.

“Corrective” surgery implies treating conditions associated with that type of animal, such as hip problems common to many dog breeds, breathing problems in pugs, etc.

Desexing, vaccination, preventive health care (worming, fleas, etc) are essential.

Microchips, council and other registration are predictable.

Appropriate housing / environment can vary a lot but the basics can be estimated.

Choice of breed will affect grooming and training needs. Boarding costs and pet-death expenses will depend mostly on the lifestyle choices of the humans.

Humans, as a species, are well known to make poor judgements about risks and costs…

And finally, humans do not “own” an animal, but assume responsibility for the animals welfare (from an ethical perspective).


Lawsuits from people who have been injured by other people’s animals. Decimated wildlife. Even a dog on a leash walked in coastal or bush land areas can cause native animals to stop breeding.

Breeding problems can largely be avoided by carefully selecting a robust breed, ensuring parents are thoroughly DNA and health checked, and buying a pedigree dog from an ANKC breeder.
Avoid breeders who breed from whatever is nearby simply to make money.


If anybody thinks that the cost of desexing and microchipping are “unexpected costs” they probably shouldn’t own a pet(s). I see those two costs as absolutely mandatory.


You never know when the bushes could conceal a predatory lawyer.


Destroying furniture, chewing shoes…usually all the right ones, never a pair of them. Chewing hoses, destroying the garden, new fencing, new plants…more washing. Installation of doggy doors.
My dog is nearly 16yo and she needs to get up in the night to toilet. That’s either me, or I have a wet mat to clean up every morning and bed washing to do. Does sleep deprivation count as a hidden cost? Vet costs for her incontinence have been about $300, with $50 medication that didn’t work, plus recommendation of a $700 ultrasound to see what is going on.
As she is deaf and partly blind, she is at the stage where I can’t really leave her, or put her in kennels, as I’m committed to looking after her properly in her twilight years, which severely limits my options if I want/need to travel anywhere…another hidden cost to the commitment you make.
Pet insurance is a big cost, plus it never covers everything. Usually an excess is paid PER condition, PER year.
But…what about the priceless unexpected bonuses…walking, exercise, meeting like minded people. The only reason I know most of my neighbours is because of my dogs. Touch wood…I’ve always had dogs and have never been broken into, plus I feel safe and secure at night. I feel I should get a discount on my contents insurance! Plus when living on your own, coming home to a happy wagging tail is priceless. I’d rather live with them than a lot of humans.


I’m not so sure they are ‘unexpected’ costs, except maybe the death and cremation costs. Vet, premium foods, etc - everyone knows they are high… surely! Someone mentioned all the regular medications… They were a shock to the wallet!


Tic prevention
Worm prevention
Collars leads
Vehicle restraint, protection of animal and car

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Automatic door?
Helpful neighbours (in exchange for eggs or cash, or reciprocation of some sort)?
I’ve had chooks for 20 years and still managed holidays up to 6 weeks so there is hope.


There are dog-training clubs, community-based and accredited by the different state dog organisations (Dogs NSW, Dogs Qld etc), at which volunteer instructors teach you to train your dog for a token fee. Nearly all now use only positive training methods and have a pleasant social atmosphere as a bonus on top of the skilled training of your puppy (training best if started young) and dog.