You can’t buy love, but that doesn’t mean owning a pet is free. In fact, pets are costing Australians a fortune – we spend $28 billion a year on our fluffy, feathered, scaly little mates.
Not that you can put a price on the companionship, support and love our pets bring. But Suncorp Bank, in research it released earlier this year, has shown that pet owners each spend $5000 a year on heathcare, toys and services for the cutest members of their family. And that’s not including the food bill for our pets, which Suncorp, in it’s Cost of Pets survey, says costs the nation’s pet owners about $3 billion annually. That equates to about $450 a month per pet that is taken out of the household budget. And the surprising thing is that many pet owners (about 25 per cent, reports Suncorp) don’t factor in pet expenses when they are working out their personal budgets.
Findings from the Cost of Pets survey show vet bills and preventative health measures account for more than $2000 of that $5000, while pet insurance is also a big part of it at $600 a year. Not surprisingly to owners of new pups, home maintenance issues that arise from pets (such as damaged gardens and chewed electrical cords) cost owners about $550 a year.
Other findings in the survey were that dogs and cats are the preferred family pet – 70 per cent of those surveyed owned a dog while 47 per cent were cat owners. Of those dog owners, labradors and golden retrievers were the most popular breed, followed by terriers and shih-tzus. Other popular pets were fish (26 per cent of repsondents had a fish or two), birds (20 per cent), guinea pigs, mice and rabbits (10 per cent), poultry (nine per cent), snakes and lizards (6.3 per cent) and spiders and insects (3.5 per cent). Eighty per cent of owners didn’t have pet insurance while nearly 40 per cent of respondents spent up to $250 on pet clothing and accessories. And while vet bills and healthcare costs are high, one in five dog and cat owners don’t buy preventative medications like vaccinations and worm treatments for their pets.