The Real Cost of Owning a Pet in Singapore

Singapore has witnessed a surge in pet ownership in recent years, as more families and individuals bring animal companions into their homes and lives. 

The pet dog population has reportedly increased 3 per cent from 2019 to around 114,000 in 2023, while the pet cat population has increased almost 10 per cent from 2019 to 94,000 in 2023. From loyal canines and playful felines to smaller critters like rabbits, hamsters, and birds, the love for pets among Singaporeans is on the rise. 

However, beyond the boundless joys of pet ownership lies the need to understand the substantial financial commitments it entails. This article explores the real cost of owning a pet in Singapore, encompassing various expenses, budgeting tips, and the vital role of financial planning for your cherished furry companion.

Costs of pet ownership

1. Initial costs

Adoption or purchase

Prospective pet owners must decide whether to adopt from a shelter or buy from a breeder or pet store. Adoption is often the more cost-effective choice, inclusive of vaccinations, microchipping, health check-ups, sterilisation, and sometimes spaying/neutering. Buying from a breeder may involve a higher upfront cost without a guarantee of lower expenses later. For buyers, additional costs like sterilisation, microchips, and licences (for dogs) should be considered.

For instance, adopting a dog costs S$70 to S$350, with purebred dogs and puppies at the higher end due to demand. Buying a dog ranges from S$800 to as much as S$9,000, with popular breeds like corgis and golden retrievers often costing between S$7,000 and S$9,000.

Set-up expenses

Preparing your home for a new pet requires investing in supplies and equipment. This includes essentials like food and water bowls, a bed or crate, leash and collar, litter box, cage (for birds, hamsters and rabbits), and toys. These initial expenses can add up, and it’s important to budget for them in advance.

Using cats as an example, basic necessities such as litter boxes, cat trees, and food bowls can add up to about S$250 and above.

2. Ongoing costs

Food and healthcare

Food is a recurring expense that varies, depending on the size and dietary needs of your pet. High-quality pet food can be costly, especially for specialised diets or premium brands. A 500g bag of hamster food, for instance, costs around S$11, while a 1.3kg bag of cat kibbles can come with a S$30 price tag.

Grooming and training

Grooming needs and prices vary among different pets, but regular grooming can be a significant cost. For instance, it is advisable for cats to be professionally groomed every 4 to 6 weeks, while dogs to be professionally groomed at least once a month. Full grooming sessions would cost anywhere from S$50 to S$150, depending on the size and breed. A full grooming package for dogs can cost about S$70, while that for cats can cost about S$80.

In between the professional grooming sessions, you might also want to groom your pet at home whenever required. That means you will have to account for the purchase of grooming essentials, such as pet shampoo, brush and clippers.

Training is another aspect that can add to expenses, particularly if you opt for professional training classes. 

Pet supplies

Pet supplies encompass a wide range of items, and it’s likely your animal friend will need them throughout their life. Beyond the initial setup costs, you’ll need to budget for ongoing purchases like litter (for cats), grooming products, toys, and pet hygiene essentials. 

Cats may require scratching posts, while dogs and birds might need new chew toys regularly. These supplies are crucial not only for your pet’s physical well-being but also for their mental stimulation and overall happiness. 

Annual vaccination and health checks

Regular vet care, including vaccinations, check-ups, and preventive treatments for fleas, ticks, and parasites, are vital. These shots vary according to an animal’s age, species, and lifestyle. Dogs need protection against rabies, distemper, and parvovirus, while cats require vaccines for feline leukaemia and rhinotracheitis. These safeguards prevent costly and emotional health issues. Annual check-ups are equally crucial, detecting problems early and saving both money and emotional stress since advanced illnesses are pricier to treat.

Anticipating ageing pet care costs

As pets age, their healthcare needs may increase. Consider expenses like more regular health check-ups and dental care, which become more critical as your pet grows older. It’s better to anticipate these costs than be caught off guard by unexpected medical bills.

3. Unexpected costs

While it’s essential to budget for the regular, predictable expenses of pet ownership, it’s equally crucial to be prepared for unexpected costs that may arise over your pet’s lifetime.

Medical emergencies

Pets, like humans, can face unexpected medical emergencies. Accidents, injuries, or sudden illnesses can lead to costly veterinary bills. For instance, a pet bird that costs just S$150 could mean medical fees that are almost 10 times more because of something like an accidental fracture.

Behavioural issues

Behavioural issues can arise at any time during your pet’s life. These may include aggression, separation anxiety, or destructive behaviour. Seeking the help of a professional animal behaviourist or trainer may be necessary to address these issues, incurring additional costs. Investing in training and socialisation classes early on can help prevent behavioural problems from becoming more severe and costly in the long run.

Pet care in case of absence

Life often comes with unexpected events or trips where you may need to leave your pet behind. Whether for work commitments or personal emergencies, you may require pet-sitting or boarding services. Planning for these situations ensures that your pet receives proper care even when you cannot be there.

Pet insurance

One way to mitigate the financial risks of pet ownership is by investing in pet insurance. Pet insurance policies vary, but they can cover everything from accidents and illnesses to routine check-ups and preventive care. It’s advisable to research and compare different insurance options to find a plan that suits your pet’s needs and your budget. 

Read more: Your Guide to Pet Insurance in Singapore

Here’s a sample breakdown of costs for adopting and keeping a dog in the first year:

ExpenseAverage PriceQuantityCost
Dog adoptionS$210S$210
Leash and collarS$901S$90
Dog bedS$951S$95
Dog toysS$254S$100
Food and water bowlsS$202S$40
Litter boxS$401S$40
Dog foodS$400S$400
Dog shampoo (and other grooming essentials)S$250S$250
Obedience and behaviour trainingS$9005 – 10 classesS$900
9 – 1 vaccinationS$511S$51
Heartworm injectionS$1001S$100
Diagnostic health check-up packageS$4501S$450
Other possible medical expensesS$4000S$4,000
Pet boarding during holiday tripS$70/night14 nightsS$980
Pet InsuranceS$350S$350
Total CostS$8,896

How to build a pet-centric budget

1. Assess your current financial situation

Before bringing a pet into your home, it’s essential to assess your current financial situation. Consider your income, existing expenses, and savings. Ensure that you have a stable financial foundation to support your new pet’s needs.

2. Identify pet-related expenses

Once you’ve assessed your financial situation, create a separate budget specifically for pet-related expenses. This budget should cover food, healthcare, grooming, training, and any other anticipated costs. Be realistic about your pet’s needs and prioritise their welfare.

3. Set aside emergency funds

These funds can cover general consultations for issues like vomiting or diarrhoea, which may not be covered by insurance but are essential for your pet’s well-being.

How to cut unnecessary expenses without compromising pet welfare

While providing the best care for your pet is essential, there are ways to cut unnecessary expenses without compromising their well-being.

Pro-tip: You can place the emergency funds in a savings account to earn a higher interest rate.

1. Evaluate your pet’s needs

Assess your pet’s specific needs. Not all pets require the same level of grooming or training. Tailor your expenditures to your pet’s individual requirements. To minimise costs for pet supplies, consider investing in durable and long-lasting items, and to make pet toys out of household items. For instance, you can try using cardboard, paper and egg cartons to make bird toys.

2. DIY or professional care?

Consider whether you can handle some pet care tasks yourself, such as basic grooming or training. This can save you money in the long run. However, for complex issues or specialised care, professional services may be necessary. 

3. Buy in bulk and look for deals

Buy pet supplies in bulk and take advantage of discounts and promotions. Online shopping platforms often offer competitive prices and subscription options for pet food and supplies.

4. Regular exercise and a balanced diet

Keeping your pet healthy through regular exercise and a balanced diet can reduce the likelihood of costly health issues down the road. Ensure your pet gets the right amount of exercise and a diet tailored to their specific needs.

Owning a pet brings immense joy but also comes with financial responsibilities. By understanding the costs, budgeting wisely, and exploring pet insurance, you can offer your animal friend the best care while ensuring your financial stability. Proper financial planning allows you to relish the companionship of your pet without undue financial stress.

Read more: Pawtecting Your Furkids: Pet Insurance and a Vet’s Take on It

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