Bringing a pet into your home is exciting, but it’s a significant commitment. You need to plan and budget carefully to ensure the wellbeing of your newest family member, and your own peace of mind.

A pet can offer companionship and emotional support. However, careful planning is crucial if you want to enjoy a happy relationship with your furry friend., a platform that helps South Africans make good money choices, advises you to start by researching the costs associated with pet care. These include vaccinations, spaying or neutering, and ongoing expenses such as food, grooming, and veterinary visits.

“It’s essential to have a clear understanding of these costs before bringing a pet home. Keeping your ‘fur-ever’ friend healthy and entertained costs a lot more than you may expect,” says Sarah Nicholson, operations manager of

Buyer beware

If your heart is set on an unusual breed with distinctive characteristics and traits, be prepared for a hefty price tag. For example, a pedigree lilac French bulldog, which has a silvery-blue coat, can cost up to R85,000 to R95,000. This includes microchipping, health and vet certificates, registration papers and other documents.

Be wary when browsing breeder websites and social media pages, advises Nicholson.

The Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) warns that scammers resort to deceptive tactics, such as using fake logos of reputable organisations that register pedigreed cats and dogs, to mislead buyers into believing they’re dealing with legitimate, ethical breeders.

Should you contact these fake “breeders”, they’ll often claim to have a “last-minute cancellation” that matches the breed, colour, and sex of your required pet.

The “breeder” will usually say they live in a remote location, so you can’t view the animal in person. However, if you’re prepared to pay all costs upfront, such as the final vaccination, travel crate, transport to the airport and flight, you will “jump the queue”.

After paying an eye-watering sum, you’ll be told that transport has been booked, and receive a reminder to collect your new fur baby at the freight section of the airport.

Soon after, you may receive a message that the airline refuses to load the animal as “the crate is too small”. However, the “breeder” will source a larger crate if you make an immediate funds transfer.

Having paid the money, you’re unlikely to hear from the scammer again, according to KUSA. Follow-ups will be fruitless – all you’ll encounter will be disconnected phone numbers and invalid email addresses.

To ensure you are dealing with a legitimate breeder, JustMoney offers the following tips:

  • Check registration: Ensure the breeder is registered with KUSA, or clubs for specific breeds.
  • Visit the premises: Inspect the facilities, which should be clean and well-maintained.
  • Check references and reviews: Ask for references and check online reviews.
  • Meet the breeding pair: Meeting the animal’s parents can indicate the animal’s temperament and health.
  • Regard red flags: Be cautious if the breeder avoids visits, lacks health documentation, offers multiple breeds, or pressures you for a quick decision.

Animal adoption

Adopting an animal offers several advantages. In addition to saving a life and supporting animal welfare efforts, the pet will usually be much more affordable than what you’d find at a breeder or pet store.

Rescue animals are vaccinated, and spayed or neutered by the organisation in question. This offers considerable savings.

It can cost R2,360 to R3,450 to spay a female dog, depending on its weight. Neutering a male dog can cost R1,800 to R2,250. Neutering a cat costs R1,750 for a female and R1,200 for a male.

Potential downsides to adoption include limited breed options or age availability. You could also discover unexpected behaviour or health issues that require time, patience, and money to address.

When adopting, deal only with a reputable animal organisation that has a thorough, transparent adoption process. This may involve filling in detailed application forms, and undergoing interviews and home checks.

TEARS Animal Rescue in Cape Town, for example, is a registered animal welfare organisation that’s been operating for 25 years. Its cat or dog adoption fee of R950 covers numerous costs, such as a behavioural assessment, flea and tick control, sterilisation, an identification tag, deworming, vaccinations, and microchipping.

Pet purchases

Setting up a home for a kitten or puppy requires investing time and money to ensure its health and comfort. A standard cat litter tray costs R80, and a starter litter kit for a kitten, with a tray and scoop, costs around R175.

Litter ranges from R50 for a standard 2.5kg bag, to R863 for 10kg. Costs vary depending on the litter brand and texture.

A puppy may need housetraining aids, such as an artificial grass training pad (R190 to R800) or a fabric, metal, or plastic crate (R370 to R1,850). The puppy will associate the crate with a den and avoid soiling it, which helps it to develop bladder and bowel control.

Food and water bowls cost around R100 each. A standard, branded dog collar costs R132, and harness prices range from R250 to R800.

The cost of high-quality kitten or puppy food varies according to brand, pet size, and dietary needs. Kitten food ranges from R300 to R1,000 for a 1.5kg to 7kg bag. A 15kg to 16kg bag for a large puppy costs R1,500 to R1,600.

Interactive and chew toys and scratching posts prevent boredom and destructive behaviour. A chew toy for a dog costs R160 to R300, and a scratching post for a cat costs R300 upwards.

Brushes start at R150, shampoo costs R132, and nail clippers range from R200 to R400. Professional grooming services for a large, long-haired dog cost around R245 for a basic wash, dry, and nail clip and up to R310 when including a summer or winter shave.

Vet visits

Veterinary care is expensive, and crucial – not only when your pet is ill, but also to prevent diseases from developing. A standard consultation costs R610. A check-up and vaccination for a dog of any age is R660, and around R770 for a cat. A dog deworming tablet costs R22 to R66, depending on the dog’s weight, while a decent cat dewormer will cost around R85.

Pet insurance helps mitigate the potentially high costs of veterinary care, ensuring that pets receive prompt treatment while limiting the financial strain on owners. You’ll pay the bill in full, and either you or the vet will submit the claim. You’ll usually receive a refund of 60% to 80%, depending on your policy.

“Shop around to ensure the coverage meets your pet’s needs and your budget,” advises Nicholson.

“Compare policies from reputable insurers. Focus on coverage details such as deductible amounts, reimbursement percentages, and annual or lifetime coverage limits. Assess whether the policy covers accidents, illnesses, and hereditary and chronic conditions.”

Budgeting for doggy daycare while you’re at work, or accommodation while you’re on holiday, involves careful financial planning to ensure your pet receives good care without straining your budget.

Research different facilities, compare prices, and read reviews to ensure you find the best value for your pet’s needs.

Budgetting tips

Nicholson urges pet parents on tight budgets to focus on priorities and be creative. She offers the following tips:

  • Check out second-hand stores: Visit charity shops to find kennels, pet toys, and accessories.
  • Use repurposed items: Upcycle household items, such as old blankets or pillows, to use as pet bedding.
  • Opt for DIY grooming: Learn basic grooming techniques such as fur clipping and nail trimming.
  • Benefit from bulk buying: Purchase pet food and supplies in bulk when there are sales or discounts.
  • Make homemade treats: Find pet-safe recipes online that use ingredients such as peanut butter, oats, and chicken broth.
  • Focus on regular exercise: Keep your pet active with daily walks and play sessions to maintain their health without costly equipment or memberships.
  • Create DIY toys: Make toys from household items such as cardboard boxes or old socks.
  • Use community resources: Research low-cost animal clinics and non-profit organisations that offer dipping, deworming, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering services.

Pet programme perks

Nicholson recommends making use of loyalty programmes.

Absolute Pets, for example, offers a Pet Parent rewards programme, where you earn points for every purchase. You can use the points to cover the cost of food, treatments, toys, and accessories at an Absolute Pets store or spa, or in their online store.

You can also make a “pawsitive” impact by directing loyalty points to an animal welfare organisation. For example, you can register with Woolworths’ MySchool programme, and add one of the many worthy organisations as a beneficiary.

Alternatively, you can donate your Pick n Pay Smart Shopper points to the NSPCA, or convert eBucks to cash to donate. Investec clients may also convert reward points into an NSPCA donation.

If cash is tight, you can use your rewards points to offset the cost of your pet-related grocery bills.

“If you invest time in careful planning and budgeting before welcoming a pet into your home, you’ll experience less stress and you can focus on building a strong, loving bond with your new family member,” concludes Nicholson.

Read an article on the cost of pet insurance.

Caption: Plan and budget carefully to ensure the wellbeing of your new pet, and for peace of mind, advises

Issued by:        Meropa Communications

On behalf of: