As a nation of pet lovers, it’s safe to say we’d do anything for our furry friends. However, in a recent study by Canstar, it was found that close to two thirds (65%) of Aussie pet owners are not prepared to spend more than $1,000 on a vet bill if their companion got sick or injured and required surgery. Leaving only 35% of pet owners willing to spend over $1000 on a vet bill.

For comparison, a common pet accident of ingesting a foreign object such as a toy, chocolate or rodent poison can cost anywhere from $765 up to approximately $12,000.

Which type of pet would we do more for?

Dogs ranked at the top of the list for Aussie pet owners prepared to spend up big, with 41% of respondents stating they would be prepared to spend more than $1,000 on a vet bill for the family dog. Cats came in a close second, with 32% of respondents stating they would spend more than $1,000 on vet bills.

“Australians love their pets, but with only just over one-third of respondents prepared to cover the costs of a serious vet bill, it raises the point that pet owners need to take a proactive approach to avoid the financial burden that can be associated with unexpected, or high vet bills,”
– Canstar’s Finance Expert, Steve Mickenbecker.

Thinking twice about getting a pet

Many Australians receive pets for Christmas or Birthdays, but this study goes to show that it’s important to know that pet ownership isn’t just about covering the costs for food, treats and toys. You need to factor in routine care, accidents and illness as part of a pet budget.

Just as we do with our cars, health, belongings and homes; our furry family members need to be insured too.  a recent Canstar investigation found that just 16% of pet owners currently hold pet insurance and alarmingly, 41% of Australian pet owners without pet insurance said they don’t see the value in it.

Understanding your vet bill

Firstly it’s important to understand that just like any basic business, Veterinary Clinics have to pay rent, electricity, gas, cleaning, admin etc. and of course staff too. On top of this, there is then the purchase and maintenance of the vast array of medical equipment used to diagnose and treat the many species and diseases dogs have, these machines can cost tens of thousands of dollars each. A Vet Clinic also has to be able to treat most accidents and emergencies in-house so they need an experienced team and also a fully equipped theatre, a comprehensive stock of medications on hand and anything else that might be needed to treat an animal emergency.

Secondly like a human, a sick or injured pet will have before and aftercare. Thirdly pet medical procedures aren’t subsidised and lastly, the equipment used for pet procedures and surgeries is often exactly the same as that used in human procedures and involves human grade sterilisation and cleaning.

Read more about understanding your vet bill and why it seems so expensive here. 

Considering Pet Insurance

The reasons for getting pet insurance are quite obvious after reading the above. It’s for the same reason we insure anything else; in the unfortunate event that something unforeseen happens. According to the Animal Medicines Australia Pet Ownership in Australia Report 2016, the annual average spend on a dog is $1,475 comprising of:

Food: $622
Vet care: $397
Health products: $248
Grooming: $129
Boarding: $86

In the same report, it showed 79% of dogs have been taken to the vet in the past 12 months, including 43% of dogs that have visited multiple times. Considering pet insurance for this reason also is worthwhile. Read more about considering pet insurance here.

If a dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than you love yourself, then it should be a simple decision to choose to get pet insurance.
– Pooches HQ


About the Author: Lara Shannon is co-Host of Pooches at Play and has completed a Certificate III in Dog Behaviour & Training with the National Dog Trainers Federation. Lara also runs her own dog walking, dog minding and dog training business in Melbourne’s Bayside area.