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

Pros
  • 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.
Cons
  • 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 you refinance a $5000 personal loan?

Much like home loans, many personal loans can be refinanced. This is where you replace your current personal loan with another personal loan, often from another lender and at a lower interest rate. Switching personal loans may let you enjoy more affordable repayments, or useful features and benefits.

If you have a $5000 personal loan as well as other debts, you may be able to use a debt consolidations personal loan to combine these debts into one, potentially saving you money and simplifying your repayments.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan sits somewhere between a home loan and a credit card loan. Unlike with a credit card, you need to sign a formal contract to access a personal loan. However, the process is easier and faster than taking out a mortgage.

Loan sizes typically range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, while loan terms usually run from one to five years. Personal loans are generally used to consolidate debts, pay emergency bills or fund one-off expenses like holidays.

What is a bad credit personal loan?

A bad credit personal loan is a personal loan designed for somebody with a bad credit history. This type of personal loan has higher interest rates than regular personal loans as well as higher fees.

How long does it take to get a student personal loan?

Completing an online personal loan application can often take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on your lender, processing your personal loan application may take anywhere between 1 and 24 hours. If your personal loan application is approved, you may receive the money in your bank account the following business day, or, in some cases, the same day.

Can unemployed single parents get personal loans?

It can be more difficult for unemployed borrowers to successfully apply for a personal loan. Most lenders require borrowers to have a regular income available to cover the cost of loan repayments.

If you’re self-employed, or if less than half of your income comes from Centrelink, you may not be eligible for some personal loan options. Consider contacting the lender before applying.

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.

Should I get a fixed or variable personal loan?

Fixed personal loans keep your interest rate the same for the full loan term, while interest rates on variable personal loans may be raised or lowered during your loan term.

A fixed rate personal loan keeps your repayments consistent, which can help keep your budgeting consistent. You won't have to worry about higher repayments if your rates were to rise. However, on a fixed loan you’ll also potentially miss out on more affordable repayments if variable rates were to fall.

How much can you borrow with a bad credit personal loan?

Borrowers who take out bad credit personal loans don’t just pay higher interest rates than on regular personal loans, they also get loaned less money. Each lender has its own policies and loan limits, but you’ll find it hard to get approved for a bad credit personal loan above $50,000.

Can I get a bad credit personal loan with a guarantor?

Some lenders will consider personal loan applications from a borrower with bad credit if the borrower has a family member with good credit willing to guarantee the loan (a guarantor).

If the borrower fails to pay back their personal loan, it will be their guarantor’s responsibility to cover the repayments.

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.

What are the pros and cons of debt consolidation?

In some instances, debt consolidation can help borrowers reduce their repayments or simplify them. For example, someone might take out a $7,000 personal loan at an interest rate of 8 per cent so they can repay an existing $4,000 personal loan at 10 per cent and a $3,000 credit card loan at 20 per cent.

However, debt consolidation can backfire if the borrower spends the extra money instead of using it to repay the new loan.

Are there low doc personal loans?

Self-employed borrowers may be eligible for low doc personal loans, which require less documentation in their application process than many other personal loan options.

It’s important to remember that though low doc personal loans may require less paperwork, you may need to provide additional security, or pay a higher interest rate.

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.

Which lenders offer bad credit personal loans?

Several dozen lenders offer bad credit personal loans in Australia. These are generally smaller lenders that aren’t household names.