How much does it cost to own a pet dog or cat in Australia today?

Cost of pet ownership

How much does it cost to own a dog? How much does it cost to own a cat? If you are one of the many Australians wanting to add a pet to your household, you are wise to investigate the cost of pet ownership before taking the plunge.

Depending on the type of pet and many other contributing factors, the cost of pet ownership can vary widely, so it’s important to obtain accurate information. But don’t worry—we’ve collected all the figures so you don’t have to. Whether you’re asking how much does it cost to own a dog, or researching the cost of owning a cat in Australia, this article should answer some of the big questions about the cost of pet ownership and help you make the important decision.


Annual cost of owning a dog

According to the Pet Ownership Report, Australian dog owners spent an average of  $4,247 per household in 2022. This is an estimate of the cost of owning a dog in Australia as some dogs will incur higher expenses than others; for example, feeding costs of a giant sized dog can be considerably higher than those of  a toy or miniature. Vet bills can also be higher for larger dogs in some cases, while some breeds tend to have more health related issues than others.

Cost of owning a dog in Australia


The breakdown of dog-related expenses

How did the researchers reach the average figure of $4,247? The table below breaks down the average annual spend into 12 categories where the most dog-related expenses occurred, from highest to lowest.


Dogs – Average spend in 2022

Food $2,024
Veterinary services $631
Products or accessories $349
Healthcare products $323
Clipping and grooming $196
Training, behaviour, therapy $166
Pet Insurance $152
Boarding, minding $104
Walking $95
Competitions, memberships $71
Transport $70
Alternative healthcare treatments $65


Annual cost of owning a cat

According to the Pet Ownership Report, Australian cat owners spent an estimated average of $2,718 per household in 2022. This is an estimate of  the cost of owning a cat in Australia as some cats will incur higher expenses than others.


The breakdown of cat-related expenses

How did the researchers reach the figure of $2,718? The table below breaks this figure down the average annual spend into 11 categories where the most cat-related expenses occurred, from highest to lowest.


Cats – Average spend in 2022

Food $1,595
Veterinary services $388
Healthcare products $280
Products or accessories $181
Pet Insurance $94
Clipping and grooming $70
Boarding, minding $53
Training, behaviour, therapy $22
Transport $16
Alternative healthcare treatments $7
Competitions, memberships $6


Note that the above figures are estimates based on a survey of pet owners who may have spent nothing in some categories, for example, pet insurance. This is why the average figures quoted above may appear lower than expected.

The actual cost of pet ownership depends on many individual factors, including the type, breed, size and age of the animal, the food (and amount of it) they eat, their predispositions to illness and whether or not they take out pet insurance.


Estimating food costs for dogs and cats

Dog cost

Annual food costs top the list of expenses for both dogs ($2,024 on average) and cats ($1,595 on average) by far. However, the actual cost of pet food can vary widely between individual animals, depending on factors such as their size, breed, age, health, food preferences, veterinary recommendations, and the owner’s budget and dietary choices pertaining to their pet (dry, wet, raw, homemade, grain-free, etc).

While the majority of pet owners tend to purchase conventional pet foods (kibble or tins of wet food) from supermarkets or pet stores, around 20% of pet parents report that they purchase premium, expensive human food for their fur babies. The growth of online shopping has facilitated the emergence of subscription pet food services offering an assortment of dietary options at a range of prices, but generally more high-end. As food is the biggest expense for both dogs and cats, it’s important to think about where you fit in this mix in order to obtain a more accurate estimate of the cost.


Estimating veterinary costs for dogs and cats

Although they are somewhat higher for dogs ($631) than for cats ($388), veterinary expenses are second only to food for both species when it comes to estimating the average cost of pet ownership in Australia. The report found that 84% of dog owners and 69% of cat owners had taken their pet to the vet in the preceding year, with an average spend of $1,220 for dogs and $936 for cats over the course of the year. This amount can vary considerably between individual animals, and also depends whether there is a pet insurance policy in place to cover some of the costs.

How much for a dog


On average, both cats and dogs pay two visits to the vet each year. The most common reasons for these visits are general check-ups and vaccinations, followed by eye, ear and skin conditions, de-sexing, dental care and gastrointestinal issues.

To help you decide whether Pet Insurance is a worthwhile investment when it comes to probable and possible veterinary costs, see our article Is Pet Insurance Worth It?

To help find the right vet for you and your pet, see our article Finding the right vet


Routine veterinary costs

These include some of the most common reasons for visiting the vet, such as general check-ups, vaccinations, de-sexing and other preventative care (for example, talking to your vet about nutrition, dental care, vaccinations and heartworm/flea/tick prevention). Ensuring your pet has regular general check-ups and taking a preventative approach to their healthcare will give your pet the best chance at a long and healthy life.

The costs of routine vet visits vary can widely between veterinary practices and the type of care provided, and may not be covered by standard Pet Insurance policies.

See here for information on Routine Care cover


Budgeting for a new puppy or kitten

How much does a cat cost

As for adult pets, budgeting for puppies and kittens should include all the categories outlined in the tables above. Additional expenses may include procedures such as microchipping, de-sexing and vaccinations, as well as items such as beds or crates, playpens, toileting items (puppy pads, litter trays and litter).

Puppies may also have the added expense of attending puppy classes, obedience training and puppy day care, the costs of which varies wildly depending on where you live and the services provided.

For more information, see our guides:


Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance is no longer regarded as an optional extra or a nice-to-have, but rather as an essential requirement of responsible pet ownership.

According to the Pet Ownership Report, the average premium in 2022 among those with pet insurance was $916 per dog and $795 per cat. However, because many factors contribute to the cost of a pet insurance policy, be aware that premiums can vary greatly between individual pets.

Puppies and kittens are very adventurous and highly accident prone, and often end up hurting themselves whilst they are still growing. Their underdeveloped immune system means they are also vulnerable to getting infections and catching diseases. It is important to take out pet insurance from the very start, to ensure that your puppy or kitten is always covered and before any pre-existing conditions are diagnosed.

Get 2 months free pet insurance for your puppy2 from Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance!


In a nutshell…

While it’s true that owning a pet is a big responsibility, and a costly one too, it’s also one of the most special and rewarding experiences you can have in life. When we speak to people about the  costs of owning a pet, most think it’s far more than worth it for the enjoyment and love they receive. So, while it’s important to ask “how much does it cost to own a dog?” or “how much does it cost to own a cat?”, what is more important to understand that a pet is far more than a purchase, and most of the benefits cannot be measured in monetary terms.



My budget is tight, are there more affordable ways to feed my pet?

Yes, responsibly feeding your pet on a budget is possible. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Store-branded kibble: These are often comparable to name-brand kibble that you can find at the same store, but at a lower price. Read labels carefully and talk to your vet for recommendations.
  • Safe human-grade foods: Supplement kibble with vet-approved options like cooked chicken, mince, or vegetables. This can make meals more satisfying for your pet while cutting costs.
  • Homemade diets: Done with veterinary guidance, these can be cost-effective. You do need to ensure they’re nutritionally complete, as deficiencies can lead to future health expenses.
  • Bulk buying: If storage allows, larger bags of kibble offer better value per unit. Consider splitting costs with fellow pet owners.


It seems like vet visits get expensive. How can I plan for unexpected costs?

Pet insurance is the best way to ensure your furry friend gets the care they need without breaking the bank. Here’s why it’s worth considering pet insurance:

  • Protection against the unexpected: Accidents and illnesses can happen anytime. Pet insurance can help with these costs, so you can focus on your pet’s recovery, not your finances.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing you have a safety net if something happens gives you invaluable peace of mind as a pet owner.
  • Choice of coverage: Plans are generally customizable. Choose a policy that fits your needs and budget, and consider including routine care for predictable costs.
  • Early is best: Pre-existing conditions are usually excluded. Insuring your pet when they’re young and healthy is the smartest move.
  • Investing in their wellbeing: Pet insurance allows you to make health decisions based on what’s best for your pet, not just on what you can afford at the time.


I’m considering adopting a puppy – what are some hidden costs I should be aware of?

Welcoming a puppy is thrilling, but it’s important to budget wisely and to be aware of future costs.  Beyond food and supplies, consider:

  • First-year vet visits: Multiple checkups, vaccinations, deworming, and desexing costs add up. Plan accordingly, or consider adopting from a reputable shelter or rehoming facility, as they usually have all of these done before adoption day.
  • Equipment: Crate, bed, collar, harness, leash, bowls and toys are necessities. You may need to up-size as they grow, increasing costs.
  • Training: Puppy classes are invaluable for socialization and obedience, but obviously come at a price. Factor in class fees or a professional trainer if needed.
  • Increased appetite: Puppies devour more food per kilogram of body weight than adult dogs. Larger breed puppies can be surprisingly expensive to feed.


Are there any breeds that are generally cheaper to own in terms of health?

While every pet is an individual, certain factors can influence your potential vet costs. It’s less about a specific breed and more about informed decision-making:

  • Mixed breeds – potential benefits: Mixed breeds can sometimes have “hybrid vigour,” meaning they may inherit fewer genetic problems than their purebred parents. However, healthy mixed breeds still need good care, while so-called “designer dog” mixes can be just as prone to issues as their parent breeds.
  • Understanding breed predispositions:  All dog breeds, purebred or mixed, have some risk of health issues. Research common conditions for your desired breed (or potential mixes within a mixed breed). This knowledge helps you make choices about future care and budgeting.
  • The power of responsible breeders:  Choosing a breeder (whether purebred or mixed) who prioritizes health testing and ethical practices is the single best way to lower the risk of expensive health problems. Ask about the parent dogs’ health history and any breed-specific screenings performed. Stay away from breeders who fail to provide this information.
  • Beyond breed – additional factors:  Your pet’s lifestyle also impacts health.  Optimal nutrition, exercise, and preventative care (vaccines, parasite control) are key to minimizing vet bills for any breed.

Important Note: No matter what breed you choose, unexpected health issues can arise. Pet insurance can be a wise investment, helping you provide the best care without financial stress.


A pet insurance policy with Bow Wow Meow will help ensure you can always afford to give your pet the best treatment.



This article is written by

Nicky Klugman

Nicky is our Marketing Communications and Content Specialist. She is an animal-lover who is particularly interested in animal behaviour and the relationships between humans and their pets. While growing up, dogs were always an integral part of the family. Nicky is mum to three human sons and a rescue pup called Dobby.

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*Please note, any pet insurance advice provided is general only. Refer to the applicable Product Disclosure Statement for details of Bow Wow Meow Pet Insurance cover.