How much is that puppy in the window?

Billy Buster Bulldog

If you’re thinking of owning a pet, that’s wonderful, as it’s one of the best decisions you can make. But you need to be well aware of the costs involved and commitment you’re making to your furry friend.  

We’ve all done it. Seen that adorable fluffy face looking up at us from our laptop or mobile and been gripped by pangs of instant love and affection. “He’s so adorable and cute.” During isolation, many have acted on these emotions and the majority will never look back with their new buddy. But it’s important to go into these decisions with your eyes open – a pet is for life; not just for Christmas or COVID.

So what should you think about when considering buying a pet?

A friend for life

There’s many reasons for buying a pet. The most important one is wanting a lifelong companion. In 2019 the RSPCA accepted more than 130,000 animals from the community who thought more about a short-term fling rather than a long-term relationship. This often comes after impulse buys at Christmas time; with animal welfare groups warning against the same thing happening during the current pandemic.

Thankfully, most people purchase with their head as well as their heart, and know the responsibility that comes with pet ownership. They also know how invaluable a pet can be to enhancing our overall wellbeing; offering company, friendship, love and loyalty.

And that’s something that will continue long after the isolation days are over.

Adorable and affordable

The happiness you receive from owning a pet far outweighs the cost (even when your best mate can be a pain at times). But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be crystal clear about the financial commitment of owning a pet and the impact it will have on your budget. Especially if your income has been impacted by COVID.

A cat or dog will cost you between $3,000 and $6,000 in the first year alone. That’s the initial purchase plus ongoing vet bills, food, essentials like bedding and toys, council registrations, grooming and so on. After your first year expect to pay at least $1,475 each year for a dog and $1,029 for a cat. 1

Considering the average lifespan of a pet is 15 years, that’s a significant commitment. It’s something you’ll cherish, but like any relationship you need to be prepared to look after them through the good times and bad.

Our Tribeca Tribe can help you with budgeting for your pet and other household costs.

Timing is everything

The best time to buy a pet is when the time is right. It could be to grow up with the kids or to grow old with after the kids have gone. Maybe it’s company for someone home alone, or to replace a loved pet. Whatever the reason, it needs to be well thought out and practical – not just emotional.

Speaking of time, you might have more of it during these days of COVID. But when life gets back to some sort of normal your pet will still need plenty of it. Time for exercise, for training, for pats, for care and for company. It’s actually a lot of the things we’ve embraced from living a slower life over the last few months, so hopefully it won’t be too big an adjustment.

Your pet will love you for it. And we’re pretty sure you’ll love it too.

Forever or foster home

So what do you do if you really love animals and are desperate for a pet, but are responsible enough to know that you simply can’t afford to look after one?

There are other alternatives.

One option is to look into foster care . Foster carers provide temporary homes for animals that are not yet ready to go to a new, permanent home for a variety of reasons. They help ensure those animals are healthy and happy without having to remain in a shelter environment until their adoption. It can also be great way for a family to decide if they are ready to own a pet.

Another option is to become a guide dog puppy raiser. For twelve months, you are responsible for raising, training and loving your cutest-puppy-ever as part of their preparation for guide dog service.

Whether you decide on a forever or foster home, the most important thing is that you’re 100% committed to the care and love of your pet – and to everything else that comes with it.


  1. Pet Ownership in Australia report, Animal Medicines Australia

At Tribeca we understand how important pets can be to our emotional wellbeing, and can help develop a plan for your financial wellbeing that takes into account all the things that are important to you. We’re here to help.

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