Making Cents: It’s barking mad not to consider your pet costs

Consumer advice with Gráinne McGuinness.

You want your children to understand the benefits and responsibility of pet ownership. You want to have a dog to go walking/jogging with you. You grew up with pets and think a house without a furry animal just does not feel right. There are loads of good reasons why people decide to get a pet, but before taking the plunge, you should also be aware of the costs involved.

Yes, that puppy looks adorable, but the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) estimates it costs €700-€2,800 per year to keep a dog, depending on the breed you choose. It is important to work out if your household budget can take the extra cost before you commit. The figure from the DSPCA includes food, bedding, toys, grooming, training, and routine medical care. A dog licence will also cost €20 per year, or €140 for a lifetime licence for your pet.

Since April 2016, dog owners are also legally required to get their dogs microchipped. Costs for this varies from €20 to €50, though it is worth contacting your local authority to see if there is a local microchipping schemes that may be free or at reduced cost. You can expect to spend upwards of €70 to vaccinate your dog, with annual boosters recommended.

Cats cost less, but still need to be fed, treated for fleas, provided with litter and taken to the vet when needed. Cat vaccinations can cost slightly more to also protect them against feline leukaemia.

With shelters around the country bursting with unwanted animals looking for homes, pet owners are also encouraged to get their cats and dogs neutered or spayed.

“The procedure brings many positive health benefits, which include reducing the risk of certain cancers, curbing unwanted sexual behaviour and preventing unwanted offspring,” said ISPCA chief executive Dr Andrew Kelly.

Dog neutering costs from €90 but can be considerably more for larger breeds. Cats are cheaper, you can expect to pay around €50 to €80. There are subsidies to help those on low incomes, so ask a vet for advice.

These are the costs associated with keeping healthy animals. Unfortunately, if your pet has an accident or becomes ill the costs can be prohibitive. TV shows like Channel 4’s The Supervet can give loving owners very high expectations of the care their pets can get, but what may not be made clear is that the costs for things like surgery, rehabilitations, and long-term medication can run into thousands of euro.

Vethospital.ie estimate that one in two pets will experience a major illness or injury during its lifetime, so pet insurance is definitely something to consider. There are varying levels of cover available, but do your research and compare quotes and coverage before making a decision.

The cheapest is “accident only”, which covers the treatment of accidental injuries, but not sickness. You may think of things like being hit by a car when it comes to needing treatment, but Vethospital.ie finds most pet insurance claims are for illness , so it may be a false saving. There are also options to cover vet fees for illnesses and accidents which are limited by either the length of time the animal is covered for or by how many times an animal can be treated for a specific condition.

The most expensive option is ‘lifetime cover’, which gives you the same amount of cover, no matter how many times you make a claim, once you keep renewing your policy. If you can afford it, this will give you greatest peace of mind.

If you are a senior citizen, or know one who would like a pet but is worried about costs and care of the animal, you should look into the ISPCA’s Cara programme. The ISPCA will ensure the new pet is vaccinated and has a clean bill of health and the adoption fees are completely waived for the animals. If the person becomes unable to care for the animal, if they have to go into a nursing home, the ISPCA will take back the pet and find them a loving home. Where possible, they will even try to work with the new owners to arrange visits to the nursing home.

Deal of the week

KBC Bank was first out of the traps with an offer to tempt Third-Level students to open a current account with it.

Students who open an account with them before the end of October will get up to €100 in cash. €10 will be lodged once the account is opened with the other €90 to follow once the account holder online or mobile banking and carries out at least 10 transactions by the end of the year. They will receive the €90 within 20 business days of the end of the month they complete the transactions.

As is usual for student accounts there are no quarterly maintenance fees and the account also offers fee-free contactless payments, debit card transactions, ATM withdrawals and cashback. Students will also be able to use their phone to pay for contactless transactions with r Android Pay or Apple Pay. The offer is not just for freshers — KBC Student Current Account is available to full-time Third Level students aged 17 or over.


© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Ray Foley commutes from Dublin to Cork to join Jason Coughlan on air

Going back to her Irish roots is key to Angela Scanlon's success

Getting clean and lean: James Duigan on the simplicity of changing your food habits

Ask Audrey: You’re 9 on the Crazy Scale, where 1 is sane and 10 is flying with Ryanair


Lifestyle

House cleaning for dummies

Getting clean and lean: James Duigan on the simplicity of changing your food habits

Ask Audrey: You’re 9 on the Crazy Scale, where 1 is sane and 10 is flying with Ryanair

Get out and enjoy: What's on offer for Culture Night?

More From The Irish Examiner