• Rising cost of pet care, cost-of-living crisis worrying Aussie pet parents: study

    March 14, 2024


    Australian pet owners say the cost-of-living-crisis and rising cost of pet care are causing them to worry about caring for their pet more than ever.

    Data from a recently-released study show just how significant the crisis has become. We take a look at the data and share expert advice on how pet parents can ease the financial burden.

    Cat on bed with owner for cost-of-living crisis and rising cost of pet care causing concern for Aussie pet parents


    Key facts:

    • New research reveals 4 in 5 pet owners worry about soaring pet care costs.
    • Pet parents spend a minimum of $1,715 annually for a cat and $3,218 for a dog each year.
    • Pet healthcare expenses have risen at a rate higher than inflation.
    • 80% of pet owners surveyed said they are using or planning to use at least one strategy to manage expenses:
      • 46% buying pet food in bulk.
      • 43% grooming their pets at home.
      • 29% cutting back on personal pleasures, like dining out and shopping.

    Rising cost of pet care contributes to pet owners’ anxiety

    A study by HCF Australia has shown the significant financial stress pet owners are faced with.

    The research by Australia’s largest not-for-profit health fund shows approximately 80% (four in five) of pet owners express worry over their ability to financially sustain the well-being of their pets.

    Most cite the rising cost-of-living crisis and the increase in pet care costs as the main source of their worry.

    This data comes as a wake-up call and highlights the ever-growing financial strains on pet parents. It’s estimated owners spend a minimum of $1,715 annually on cats and $3,218 on a dogs.

    Additional research by insurer PetSure shows a surge in pet healthcare expenses, escalating at a rate surpassing general inflation.

    This escalation particularly affects treatments for common ailments like arthritis, with treatment costs witnessing a more than 50% increase year-on-year.

    Some conditions might be easily covered by the average family budget, but PetSure research shows that, on average, pet parents would have trouble finding more than $3,000 for an unexpected pet health expense. Concerningly, claims show many common accidents and illnesses cost much more to treat and can occur at any age.

    Common treatments for cats, such as a snake bite, can incur an average cost of $2,200, but can reach as high as $10,000, according to the Pet Health Monitor 2023 Report. Similarly, treating skin allergies in dogs can range from an average cost of $520 to a staggering $17,400, highlighting the substantial expenses that can arise when addressing various pet health conditions.

    While some pet parents might question the value of pet insurance, with no Medicare for pets, vet bills can leave pet owners in a challenging spot.

    “Pet insurance can play a role in helping to support you with unexpected costs,” says Lorraine Thomas, HCF Chief Operating Officer.

    “HCF policy holders can also take advantage of complimentary access to 24/7 VetChat, a telehealth service.

    “(it) connects pet owners with a vet by phone or video to access quality vet care when and where the pet parent needs it.”

    Pet owners can go online to the VetChat website to book a consultation

    Veterinarian and pet expert, Dr. Katrina Warren, says the impact of ageing pets and rising treatment costs as pivotal factors contributing to the financial burden on pet owners.

    “Pet parents want to ensure their dog or cat receives the best possible care,” says Dr Katrina.

    “But rapidly increasing vet costs can leave them with some difficult decisions to make.”

    The survey also reveals pet owners’ coping mechanisms. With 46% buying pet food in bulk, and 43% grooming pets at home. While 29% are cutting back on personal pleasures to manage pet care expenses.

    “Aussies love their pets, and the results show just how deeply that love goes. Nearly all (97%) pet owners surveyed said they are committed to supporting the health and wellbeing of their pets, with three in four (75%) strongly agreeing with this statement,”  said Katrina.

    Four in five pet owners surveyed said they are using or planning to use at least one strategy to manage expenses, from buying pet food in bulk (46%) and grooming their pets at home (43%), to cutting back on personal pleasures, like dining out and shopping (29%).



    Dr Katrina warren and pets for Australian pet owners worry about cost of pet care
    Dr Katrina Warren says there’s some simple ways owners can budget for cost of pet care (image supplied)

    But Dr Katrina says while these strategies are a step in the right direction, the key lies in planning ahead for unexpected pet health issues.

    While costs are rising, there are ways to ensure our furry friends stay happy and healthy without breaking the bank,” Katrina says.

    Some of Katrina’s tips for keeping pets happy and healthy on a budget include:

    • Stock up on pet supplies in bulk

    • Don’t skip vet visits – early detection saves money in the long run

    • Keep an eye on pet weight and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine

    • Educate yourself on common pet health issues

    • Consider pet insurance, especially for young pets

    • Keep cats indoors to prevent accidents and disease

    • Try DIY grooming with proper tools

    • Keep harmful household products out of reach

    • Create homemade pet toys and furniture

    • Whip up homemade pet treats


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