How much does it cost to own a pet?

How much does it cost to own a pet?

We thought we’d have a little fun this week and look at how much it costs the average New Zealand family to own a pet. After all, one in two households have one and very few budget for them!

Let’s be honest, owning a pet goes hand-in-hand with the great Kiwi dream of property ownership.

So let’s be clear here: we’re definitely not making a case against pet ownership. However as Christmas time usually coincides with a spike in pet purchases,  it’s a good time to look at the monthly cost factor.

Because if you’ve decided to take on the responsibility of welcoming a pet into your household, then it’s something you should plan for and do right!

First, how many of us own pets?

Believe it or not, but one in two New Zealanders own a pet.

Yet how many of them do you think run a proper budget for it? Probably very few.

And when you consider that more than $800 million is spent on pet products and services every year, that’s a lot of unallocated money!

So if you’re looking to get a pet for your family, here’s the most common options available, listed from most expensive to cheapest.


Dogs make up at 28%of companion animals in NZ. In 2015, the NZ Companion Animal Council estimated that caring for a dog costs around $1,686 NZD a year.

Basically, you’re looking at an average of $140 a month for food, vet care, health products, grooming and boarding.

To avoid any vet bill blow outs, it might also be worth considering pet insurance, which can cost as little as an extra $180 per year. Or $15 per month.

It’s also worth noting that the above figures don’t factor in upfront costs, which can range from $1000-$5000 to purchase a select breed, or $250 to adopt an SPCA dog.


Cats are the most popular companion animal in New Zealand, with 44% of households sharing their homes with at least one cat. In 2015, the NZ Companion Animal Council estimated that caring for a cat costs around $670 a year.

Pet insurance is slightly cheaper for cats, coming in at $8 a month.

It costs between $100 to adopt a cat from the SPCA – depending on their age – while a select breed will cost you between $1,000 and $2,000. without the bits and pieces needed.

Bird and fish

Only 10% of households have fish; however, with an average of around nine fish per household the total number of fish is 1.5 million, outnumbering cats at 1.1 million. There are over half a million birds.

If you’re looking to ease yourself into pet ownership, welcoming a bird or fish into the fold is a much cheaper option.

It costs just $115 per year on average to own a bird, while fish are even cheaper at $50 per year.

Final word

As you can see, purchasing a pet is unlikely to cost you an arm or a leg (so long as they have adequate play toys!).

However, you can minimise the impact it has on your bottom line by including the monthly amount in your family budget, and protecting against vet cost blow-outs with pet insurance.

If you’d like to know more about budgeting, get in touch. We’d be happy to help out.

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