Inflation affects every part of someone’s life, from the amount they spend on rent, to how much fuel they put in their car, what food they buy and how much they go out.
It also has an impact on how owners care for their pets – so what impact has inflation had on the cost of owning an animal?
The RSPCA says in 2019 and 2020, 9 per cent of pet owners surrendered their animal because they couldn’t afford basic care. That number increased to 17 per cent in 2021 but decreased in the 2022 calendar year so far.
Despite the rising cost of living, it seems that fewer owners are surrendering their pets, with the number decreasing from 7,292 in the 2019 financial year to 4,978 in 2021, and 4,338 in the year to date.
The RSPCA said, “Having too many animals has been the biggest reason year after year. We did see an increase in ‘cannot afford basic care’ (9 per cent to 17 per cent in 2021) but this has dropped to 13 per cent so far in 2022.”
Acquiring a pet
Budget Direct published research on its website, which showed that the average cost to acquire a dog in 2019 ranged from $548 to $627, a cat $274 to $308. Fish could be acquired at an average of $150 and birds $293.
A search on Gumtree shows that if you choose a pedigree cat, you’d be looking at $2,650 for a Scottish Fold. A standard domestic short hair would be free to a good home though.
A Cavoodle puppy would cost $5,500 meanwhile some staffies on Gumtree are listed for free so the price can vary considerably.
Owning a pet is a big commitment and many animal rescue shelters and organisations have reported that there has been a spike in surrenders in the last few months. The ongoing costs include food, vet services, pet healthcare products, pet insurance, clipping/grooming, boarding/minding, training or behaviour therapy, alternative healthcare treatments, transport and walking.
Finder says that Australians spend $21.9 billion on their pets each year. Per person that’s an average of $309 per month.
Budget Direct says that of that $21.9 billion, $3.9 billion goes towards pet food. Their data shows that 60 per cent of dog owners and 70 per cent of cat owners buy their pet food from the supermarket. Other places they source it from include pet shops, leftovers, butcher, making it at home, vet, online, collecting it in the wild or other.
Money Smart says that the average owner will spend $800 per year on dog food.
Real Insurance says a cat owner will also spend up to $800 per year.
Pet owners also spend money on pet bowls, bedding, litter trays, toys and animal clothing. Most pet owners buy these items from department stores however some go to pet shops and supermarkets.
Insurance and boarding services are the biggest costs that pet owners face. The cost to board a cat at Pets Training and Boarding in Sydney depends on the season. It is $32 per day during the low, $35 in the high and $39 at the peak.
Boarding a dog at Sydney Dog and Cat Boarding is $65 during the main holidays, $55 in the high season and $35 off-peak. The exact rate will vary depending on the size of the dog.
Based on a survey in 2019, Budget Direct says that 17 per cent of prospective peter owners consider the costs of boarding services before they commit to an animal.
The average annual vet bill for a dog in 2019 increased from $479 to $546, with Australians spending an average of $2.6 billion a year on the health of pets. Those costs include regular checkups, vaccinations, illness or injury, dentistry, de sexing, surgery, pathology and lab tests, x-ray and imaging services or hospital in-patient care.
In 2020 RSPCA Pet Insurance stated that the average annual bill for a dog’s health is $880, however it depends on the age and breed.
They did not provide data on the cost of a cat.
A standard vet check-up for a dog or cat could cost $50-$100. Vaccinations sit at around $80-$90 for an adult animal, $170-$250 for puppies and $170-$200 for kittens.
An emergency vet visit could go into thousands of dollars, with cancer treatment having the highest cost at an average of $3,503.74 in 2019.
Finder says: “According to the Consumer Price Index veterinary costs have risen by 7.1 per cent over the last 12 months to March 2022.”
A Finder national survey of 1,086 respondents in February 2022 showed that over 30 per cent of owners had taken their pet to the vet at least once or twice in the last 12 months.
“A further 11 per cent have taken their pets to the vet at least three or more times in the past year.”
The average price dog owners would pay before considering putting it down is $5,137. Cat owners on the other hand would fork out $3,324.
Women were more attached to their pets, with Finder saying: “Women ($6,508) would pay almost double that of men ($3,591) before considering to put down their dog.”
Australians spent an average of $1.4 billion on pet healthcare products in 2019. This included flea, tick and worming prevention; and dietary supplements.
The most popular stores to buy these items from were supermarkets, vets and general retail.
Finder says that desexing a cat can cost between $115 to $300 however the exact charge will depend on the vet you go to. A dog will cost slightly more with rates varying between $200 and $500 but you should pay less than $300.
Pet insurance covers the cost if you select it as a policy add-on.
Finder compared 14 pet insurance policies and found that the average cost was $60 per month and you can claim up to between $12,000 and $25,000 per year depending on the policy you choose. Sixty to 100 per cent of vet costs will be reimbursed.
Budget Direct has the cheapest premium of $79.31 per month with an excess amount of $100 and 80 per cent of vet bills covered.
Pet Secure is the most expensive at $222.76 per month, with no excess fees, a claimable amount of $12,000 and 85 per cent of vet bills covered.
The cost to microchip a pet varies between states however the average cost across Australia to microchip a cat is $45. The price for a dog would be $74.