Taking care of a pet is a lot of responsibility - but something that isn’t as often discussed is the financial responsibility involved in caring for a companion like a dog or cat. So how much does it cost to own a dog?
A fuss-free dog may not require much other than food and some basic equipment like toys and leashes - so it might seem that owning a pet isn’t too costly. In reality, the money you spend taking care of your pet can snowball.
For one, getting a pet can be expensive in the first place. While adopting a dog through pet shelters (like SPCA, VFA and ASD) is relatively less expensive at around $180, pet parents who opt to buy purebred animals from breeders can expect to pay lump sums of $1000 and up.
Furthermore, pets come in all shapes and sizes - and in every stage of their life they may require slightly different equipment and food. For instance, a young puppy might require premium puppy food or puppy-appropriate milk, while an older one will require more nourishing food chock full of elder-friendly supplements and that often comes at a cost.
Aside from the daily expenses of having a dog, there’s also the cost of seeing a vet.
Regular check ups can cost as much as $40 to $70 depending on your vet - and that’s not accounting for inflated rates during peak hour periods for veterinary clinics. For certain clinics who take housecall for emergency situations, veterinarian bills can pile up to over $150. Even simple and standard procedures like sterilization can cost more than $250, so more complex surgical procedures that are common in your pet’s old age may rack up even more bills.
With all that said, what is the average cost of owning a dog in Singapore?
Sites like ValueChampion estimate the cost of owning a dog to run up to $25,800 over the course of 10 years, based on the cost of food, vaccinations, annual checkups, grooming costs and miscellaneous equipment like beds, toys or leashes. By most accounts, this amount leans more toward the low side as it doesn’t include the non-essential costs of items like Pet taxis or dog boarding that are popular in Singapore.
With the rather immense cost of owning a pet - what can be done to ensure you can responsibly finance your pet?
#1 Budget ahead of time
Budgeting is an essential but often overlooked part of owning a pet - it’s also a key tool to managing general finances, but in this case is especially helpful. Before you intend to adopt or purchase a pet, make sure to research on what your new family member will require.
Calculate the cost of purchasing a month’s worth of toys, food, treats and miscellaneous services like grooming or vet checkups. For frequent travelers, make sure to think about the cost of travelling with a pet, or boarding your pet with a pet sitter or a friendly neighbour. With this amount in mind, make sure to portion out your monthly earnings into a pet fund.
In fact, it might be beneficial to keep three months worth of expenses in a separate account to provide some buffer. In this way, if you are suddenly unable to pay for your pet’s expenses, you’ll have some money to use while you get back on your feet. It could also provide some essential relief if your pet requires any emergency treatment.
#2 Find a balance
As a pet parent, it can be tough to resist those puppy eyes - and that might mean buying too many toys and treats for our furry friends. But in reality, our pets often love us for us and not so much for the toys and treats we shower them with.
Often times, the money spent on gourmet treats, new and fun toys or gadgets like automatic fetch machines is unnecessary and could serve better to finance other more essential parts of having a pet like supplements for older dogs, or simply saving ahead of time for future expenses.
In fact, it’s possible toDIY dog-safe toys, ordog-appropriate treats if you put in a little time and effort. Of course, the most important thing is to continue showering your pet with affection and attention - that will make them happier than any toy.
Nevertheless, it’s good to still strike a balance. While it’s important to save where you can, some expenses are essential. Quality food or regular veterinary checkups, for example, help to prevent your dog from developing further illnesses that may cost even more in the long run.
#3 Purchase pet insurance
While dog health insurance isn’t something that all pet parents get, it can be a life-saver. Of course the big question you might be asking yourself is - do I need pet insurance?
Photo by Total Shape on Unsplash
In Singapore, only four companies provide pet medical insurance that cover all sorts of essential items. But most of these insurance policies will cover:
- Surgical and Non-surgical treatment
- Post-surgical treatment
- Dental treatment (in cases related to accidents or illnesses)
- Room and board fees
- Cancer treatment and Chemotherapy
- Accidental death
- Third party liability
- Loss of pet due to theft
Final expenses - including the cost of euthanasia, pet cremation services, or other similar services following the death of a pet
This is a long list but thankfully many pets will avoid getting into most of these situations. Nevertheless, some of the clauses that pet insurance for your dog can cover can become essential depending on your pet’s situation.
Some factors to consider when thinking about buying pet insurance includes your pet’s age, how accident prone or aggressive they may be, what type of breed they are and their medical history. For instance, pets that tend to be more aggressive are more likely to cause harm to other people, pets or property - in which case the third party liability clause in your insurance policy will be of great help.
Of course, the deductibles you’ll have to pay to maintain your pet’s policy could come up to a quite a fair sum. However, it’s important to keep in mind how much can change over the 5-15 years of your pet’s lifespan!
Whether you choose to set aside a fixed monthly budget or to opt for insurance plans, it's always good to have a contingency plan in place. Fortunately, policies such as CIMB's My Paw Pal have a great coverage scheme at an affordable price. This way, you can keep your fur best friend protected without worrying about the financial aspect of healthcare.
From now till 31 December 2019, you'll be able to redeem a goodie bag (worth > $100) from GDP with every CIMB My Paw Pal policy sign up! In each bag, you'll be equipped with goodies (from Nutro, Greenies, and BARE) to keep your pup happy and in good health for a long time!
Owning a pet can be tough work but at the end of the day it can be equally rewarding. Caring for our pet friend can bring great joy to our lives - provided we take responsibility and make sure we are able to consistently finance whatever our pet needs, saving on what can be saved but not scrimping on the things that matter.
Tammi writes articles about anything from data analytics to animal health, and loves doing the occasional craft. But most importantly, she loves hanging out and doing photo-shoots with her dog.