How much pet ownership really costs (and where personal loans can help)

How much pet ownership really costs (and where personal loans can help)

Nothing quite compares to the love, companionship and snuggles of a pet.

Aussies seem to understand this, as pet owners outnumber non-owners in Australia. Three in five households nationally own a pet, according to a 2019 report from Animal Medicines Australia, and Australians are known to spend big on their furry friends. 

About 40 per cent of households have at least one dog, making them the most preferred type of pets in Australia. Cats are also popular, and can be found in more than a quarter of all households locally.

But before you head off to the animal shelter, you should seriously consider whether you’re prepared to commit to a new pet for their entire lives. The RSPCA reckons pooches can live between 10 and 20 years, while feline companions can live between 15 and 20 years.

While pets can be great additions to the family, they can often come with hefty upfront and ongoing expenses. Before bringing your furry friend home, do some thorough research and estimate what the costs might be, and how you plan to pay for those costs in the long term. 

How much does it cost to acquire a pet?

In many cases, it’s possible to find a pet for free, or close to free, from family, friends or neighbours. Another option is to adopt a stray or rescue animal from shelters, which may set you back an adoption fee. You could also consider becoming a pet foster carer if you’re not ready or unable to own a permanent pet.

For animals that aren’t free, the average dog cost $627 and the average cat $308.

The most expensive cats and dogs typically come from breeders, costing about four times the price of those from shelters.

  Avg cost from breeders Avg cost from pet shops Avg cost from shelters
Dogs $940 $510 $260
Cats $620 $240 $155

Source: Animal Medicines Australia.

What are the upfront costs of owning a pet?

Acquiring the pet is often one of the biggest initial costs of pet ownership, but it’s not the only expense you’ll need to pay upfront.

The initial period of owning a dog or cat is generally the most expensive. You can expect to fork out between $3,000 and $6,000 in the first 12 months, according to MoneySmart

Some potential upfront costs of owning a pet include:

  • Registration – $30 to $190 per year (depending on your council and whether your pet is desexed).
  • Microchipping, vaccinations and desexing – up to $1,000 in the first year of ownership, or in some cases, this may already be done before you adopt.
  • Flea, tick and worming treatments – $300 to $450 a year (the bigger your pet, the more expensive this may be).
  • Essentials (e.g. bed, bowls, collar and toys) – up to $500 in the first year, and about $100 per year after that.

Depending on how you plan to buy your pet and all those essentials, it’s pretty clear the costs can add up. Having the money readily available is one way you can write off the cost quickly, but a personal loan might ease the initial blow considerably. 

However, it’s not the only cost you’ll want to have considered. 

What are the ongoing costs of owning a pet?

The ongoing costs of pet ownership are one of the biggest concerns of those who don’t have a pet, yet still want one.

It’s hard to estimate the exact ongoing costs of owning a pet, as it will depend largely on the pet and your household’s lifestyle. As with anything, it’s possible to splurge or save when taking care of your furry friend, so you may want to set a budget to control expenses.

Overall, Animal Medicines Australia research shows the ongoing cost of pet ownership could set you back:

  • an average of $1,627 per year for dogs
  • an average of $962 for cats.

While not everything is essential, some of the top necessities for pets, such as food, vet services and pet healthcare products, could cost hundreds of dollars a year.

Note that vet services and healthcare may cost more if your pet gets into an accident or falls ill.

Avg annual household spend, 2019 Dogs Cats
Food $586 $491
Veterinary services $470 $261
Pet healthcare products $224 $147
Products or accessories $157 $96
Pet insurance $147 $69
Clipping / grooming $154 $45
Boarding / minding $108 $96
Training / behaviour / therapy $70 $36
Alternative healthcare treatments $57 $44
Transport $51 $43
Competitions / memberships $35 $29
Walking $37 -
Anything else $61 $35
Average per animal $1,627 $962

Source: Animal Medicines Australia.

Will you need a personal loan for a pet?

All the costs of owning a pet can add up. From the initial blow of adoption cost to training, treats, clipping, and more, pet ownership isn’t going to be within reach of everyone, at least not initially. 

That furry companion can be a costly exercise, and one that might be easier to connect with as an ongoing cost through a personal loan. 

However, it’s worth noting that while paying a personal loan is an ongoing cost, owning a pet is continually ongoing, and so you might end up racking up substantial debt, particularly if something happens. 

Consider the ongoing cost of a personal loan by using a personal loan calculator, and work out whether the cost of a personal loan for pets is worth it for you.

Pros and cons of getting a personal loan for my pet
  • Can roll all the pet expenses into one personal loan and pay it off over a period of up to seven years.
  • Likely to be cheaper than using a credit card.
  • Regular repayment schedule (i.e. paying back every week or fortnight) may encourage disciplined repayments, as opposed to credit cards, which only require minimum repayments.
  • Personal loans come with interest costs and fees, which can become a financial commitment.
  • If you make late repayments or fail to pay back the loan, your credit score may take a hit, affecting your future credit applications.
  • Lenders may take time to approve your application, which could be a downside if it delays your pet from receiving urgent vet care or medication.

Where personal loans can work for pets

Everyone’s approach to money is going to be different, and while a personal loan could make sense for some, it won’t make sense for all. 

Using a personal loan for boutique animals and pets that are in demand could be a logical approach for many, as it means you’ll be paying down the initial big cost that some pets come with over a set period of time. Much like how you pay down the price tag of a car, paying the thousands of dollars that a new pet can cost over time may end up being easier in the long-run than either spending that money to begin with, or even using a credit card. 

The same is true with getting a personal loan for vet bills, as these can help ease the burden of any financial trauma associated at the time. 

However, using a personal loan for training, essentials, and other costs associated with a pet may make less sense, and can be akin to paying for groceries with a personal loan: while it definitely can be done, the long term costs can increase the price of things you’re paying for, and may seem less useful overall. 

As with all things financial, it’s wise to consider all avenues, as costs can add up, and a personal loan for pets may end up costing you more than you initially bargained for.

If you’re thinking about getting a personal loan to help cover some expenses related to your pet, you should consider if a personal loan will be right for you, or if another option might suit you better. It might help to seek advice for your personal situation from a financial expert.

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Learn more about personal loans

Can I get a self-employed personal loan with bad credit?

It may be much more difficult for a self-employed borrower to successfully apply for a personal loan if they also have bad credit. Many lenders already consider self-employed borrowers to be riskier than those in full-time employment, so some self-employed personal loans require borrowers to have excellent credit.

If you’re a self-employed borrower with a bad credit history, there may still be personal loan options available to you, such as securing your personal loan against a vehicle of equity in a property, though your interest rates may be higher than those of other borrowers. Consider contacting a lender before applying to discuss your options.

How can I improve my credit rating/score?

Your credit score will improve if you demonstrate that you’ve become more credit-worthy. You can do that by minimising loan applications, clearing up defaults and paying bills on time.

Another tip is to get the one free credit report you’re entitled to each year – that way, you’ll be able to identify and fix any errors.

If you want to fix an error, the first thing you should do is speak with the credit reporting body, which may take care of the problem or contact credit providers on your behalf.

The next step would be to contact your credit provider. If that doesn’t work, you can refer the matter to the credit provider’s independent dispute resolution scheme, which would be the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

AFCA provides consumers and small businesses with fair, free and independent dispute resolution for financial complaints.

If that doesn’t work, your final options are to contact the Privacy Commissioner and then the Office of the Information Commissioner.

Do student personal loans require security?

While some personal loans can be secured by the value of an asset, such as a car or equity in a property, student personal loans are often unsecured, which typically have higher interest rates.

Some lenders also offer guarantor personal loans to students. These loans have lower interest rates, as a guarantor (usually a relative of the borrower with good credit) will fully or partially guarantee the loan, taking on the financial responsibility if the borrower defaults.

How long are $3000 loans?

Medium amount loans can be repaid between 16 days and 2 years. Many personal loans have terms between 1 year and 5 years, though some are as short as 6 months while others last for 10 years.

Generally, the shorter a loan’s term, the more expensive your regular repayments may be, but the less total interest you’ll pay. Loans with longer terms mean more affordable repayments, but more interest charges over the full term.

Can single mothers get personal loans online?

Many lenders offer online applications for personal loans, which can be convenient for borrowers who have busy lives. If you’re not confident your personal loan application will be approved, you may want to consider contacting the lender by email, live chat, phone, or by visiting a branch, to discuss your situation before applying.

What's a credit report?

A credit report is a record of your credit history, which covers your credit enquiries, borrowings and your repayments. The report will include information about any bankruptcies or other relevant legal judgements. It will also include biographical information such as your address, date of birth, driver's licence number and employment history. 

Will comprehensive credit reporting change my credit score?

Comprehensive credit reporting may change your credit score, either positively or negatively, depending on an individual's situation.

Under comprehensive credit reporting, credit providers will share more information, both positive and negative, about how you and other Australians manage credit products. That means credit reporting bureaus will be able to make a more thorough assessment of everyone’s credit behaviour. That will lead to higher scores for some consumers and lower scores for others.

Are there alternatives to $2000 loans?

If you need to borrow $2000 or less, alternatives to getting a personal loan or payday loan include using a credit card or the redraw facility of your home, car or personal loan.

Before you borrow $2000 on a credit card, remember that interest will continue being charged on what you owe until you clear your credit card balance. To minimise your interest, consider prioritising paying off your credit card.

Before you draw down $2000 in extra repayments from your home, car or personal loan using a redraw facility, note that fees and charges may apply, and drawing money from your loan may mean your loan will take longer to repay, costing you more in total interest.

Do $4000 loans have no credit checks?

Many medium amount loans for $4000 have no credit checks and are instead assessed based on your current ability to repay the loan, rather than by looking at your credit history. While these loans can appear attractive to bad credit borrowers, it’s important to remember that they often have high fees and can be costlier than other options.

Personal loans for $4000 are more likely to have longer loan terms and will require a credit check as part of the application process. Bad credit borrowers may see their $4000 loan applications declined or have to pay higher interest rates than good credit borrowers.

What is the average interest rate on personal loans for single parents?

Like other types of personal loans, the average interest rate for personal loans for single parents changes regularly, as lenders add, remove, and vary their loan offers. The interest rate you’ll receive may depend on a range of different factors, including your loan amount, loan term, security, income, and credit score.

Can I repay a $3000 personal loan early?

If you receive a financial windfall (e.g. tax refund, inheritance, bonus), using some of this money to make extra repayments onto your personal loan or medium amount loan could help reduce the total interest you’re charged on your loan, or help clear your debt ahead of schedule.

Check your loan’s terms and conditions before paying extra onto your loan, as some lenders charge fees for making extra repayments, or early exit fees for clearing your debt ahead of the agreed term.

What is a secured bad credit personal loan?

A bad credit personal loan is 'secured' when the borrower offers up an asset, such as a car or jewellery, as collateral or security. If the borrower fails to repay the loan, the lender can then seize the asset to recoup its losses.

When was comprehensive credit reporting introduced?

Comprehensive credit reporting was introduced to make credit reports fairer and more accurate. Under the previous system, credit providers only saw negative information about potential borrowers. Now, they're able to see both positive and negative information, which means that credit providers can see if a borrower’s negative credit behaviour is consistent or a mere one-off.

What is comprehensive credit reporting?

Comprehensive credit reporting is a system which includes both positive and negative information on a person’s credit file. Before comprehensive credit reporting was introduced, only negative information was included.