oneplan pet insurance

The real price of owning a pet


Jade Poole from I Write Words

It is no secret that owning a dog or cat is more than just an emotional commitment, but is a financial one too, one that may last as long as 20 years or more. Put it this way, the cute little puppy you gave your daughter in grade three for her birthday, could still be there wagging his not-so-young tail when she graduates from varsity, at this time your fur baby will undoubtedly be cranky, frail and needing expensive and not to mention frequent trips to the vet.

Not exactly a situation that leaves you finally being able to take that luxury cruise through the Bahamas after your kids graduate – is it? But it is quite frankly, the hard truth of having a furry ball of love in your home.

Let’s break it down…
There is a vast amount of evidence that suggests that the majority of us underestimate the costs associated with caring for our pets. We might be diligent in budgeting for unexpected maintenance items such as car repairs, home fixers and our kid’s education, yet we still remain surprisingly nonchalant about the costs that incur from the animals who share our homes and our hearts.

**Please note that these costs may differ between vets, pets and various treatment options and you may end up spending more than this on your cat or dog. The costs mentioned here serve as an example of what you might pay in these situations.

Let’s have a look at a scenario… You just acquired the cutest, fluffiest kitten you have ever seen, you then decide to do the responsible thing and book her in for an appointment at your local vet. This is then the initial consultation where your vet will offer some useful advice on feeding, growth expectancies, temperament and other tidbits you may want to know. This detailed examination will cost you anything from about R400, on top of this, if you want your pet microchipped, this will cost about R350 – this is advised. That’s not too bad, right? And the little fluff monster is good to go back to your loving home after spending around R800 (after the cost of the acquiring your little one).

But wait… as a new adoptive parent you will need to know that your new kitty may be vulnerable to nasties such as microbials and other infectious agents in your home and garden, not to mention the intervention of Fate through the form of unpredictable events such as car accidents…

Thus, your new pet will require your help and financial aid to stay happy and healthy for years to come – but you knew that, right?

To break down the financial costs of owning a pet even further for you, we did the research so that you don’t have to and found the following estimates:

The basics of kitten healthcare costs
  • Cats need 3 vaccinations when they are kittens at 9, 12 and 16 weeks.
    • Week 9 covers viruses, snuffles, the feline leukaemia virus and feline panleukopaenia and costs roughly R400
    • Week 12 covers the same as well as rabies and costs R445
    • Week 16 covers rabies and costs R240
  • Deworming is also suggested at each vaccination, which costs about R20 to R40. External parasite control is also advised which costs about R90. After initial vaccinations deworming is recommended at 3 to 6 month intervals and external parasite control is advised on a monthly basis.
  • If you decide against vaccination, then your cat is more susceptible to common diseases such as snuffles, which will cost you the consultation fee of roughly R400, antibiotics which may cost between R150 and R250 (or more), and perhaps hospitalisation which could result in a bill of R2000 or more, this may even go up to R10000.
  • Your cat should be sterilised on top of the above-mentioned costs, this will cost you about R650 for males and R1100 to R1200 for females. It’s important to get your cat sterilised as this will prevent him or her from roaming around, getting into fights, hit by cars and he or she will also be less likely to contract feline immunodeficiency virus or feline leukaemia virus. Females may also be more prone to mammary cancer (costing between R2000 and R6000 for chemotherapy), as well as uterine infections, which can cost between R5000 and R8000 for emergency surgery – yikes!
So, if you get all the necessary procedures done, this will set you back about a minimum of R3000 (most vets encourage you to bank on this amount being quite a bit more as the size of your cat and any issues they may have will dictate this price), this is if nothing goes wrong of course and all before your little Tigger is even a year old. Bear in mind, this doesn’t include the costs for food, bedding, toys, what you paid for your pet initially and other items of comfort for your little one.

The basics of puppy healthcare costs
  • Puppies need a vaccination at 6 to 8, 10 to 12 and 14 to 16 weeks.
    • The vaccination at 6 to 8 weeks covers the canine parvovirus, canine distemper virus, canine infectious hepatitis and canine parainfluenza virus and costs about R330
    • The following 2 vaccinations cover rabies and other viruses and cost about R360
  • Deworming is also advised and costs about R10 to R60 and parasite control will cost between R80 to R150
  • If you do not vaccinate your puppy, your fur ball may be susceptible to common viruses such as the parvovirus (this is actually known as cat flu and also affects dogs – we know, it’s confusing). The treatment for this can cost around R4000 to R15000, and roughly only 50% of patients will survive this.
  • Your dog should also be sterilised at around 6 months, although there is somewhat of a debate as to when dogs should be sterlised, nonetheless this will set you back about R1200 for a male dog and R1300 to R1600 for a female.
So, if you get all the necessary procedures done, this will set you back a minimum of about R3500, however this is likely to be a more as the costs of vets vary as do the various procedures, this is if nothing goes wrong with your little pup and all before your little Rover is even a year old. Of course, as we said before, doesn’t include the costs for food, bedding, toys, what you paid for your pet initially and other items of comfort bought for your little guy – pretty pricey pup, right?

Now for the annual check ups Just when you thought that the bulk of your expenses were out of the way and you and your furry ball of love could both get on with your happy hair-ball lives, let’s not forget about the annual check ups…

Vets also recommend that your pet has an annual health check up where your vet will perform a full clinical examination ring you pet’s nutritional status and also advise you on their diet. This will cost about R290 to R450 for dogs and R285 to R445 for cats (it may cost a bit more if a vaccination is included).

If your pet is a bit more on the grey side and reaching seniority status, then vets recommend screening tests for the most common diseases which include tests for kidney function for elderly cats and can cost about R350. X-rays for older large-breed dogs may cost about R1500 to R2000 to screen for common ailments such as arthritis.

If your precious pet is on chronic medication then they will need to go for a check up every 6 months, which cost about R285 or more for each visit to the vet. Additional tests may be required during these visits which may cost you between R300 to R600, and let’s not forget about the deworming which needs to happen every 3 months costing between R20 to R80 for cats and dogs.

You might want to take a deep breath at this stage.

Ready? Alright then…

Next, we have the external parasite control (yes, again), you will want to get any ticks and fleas your pet may have under control and this is recommended monthly and costs about R80 to R100 for cats and R80 to R160 for dogs. The commonly used parasite controls in South Africa are:
  • Bravecto (lasts for 3 months) R240.00 to R500.00 per treatment,
  • Frontline and related spot ons (lasts for 1 month) R75.00 to R146.00 per treatment
Ok, so what if you don’t control those pesky ticks on your pet, well an uncomplicated case of tick bite fever may cost anywhere between R500 and R1000 for treatment and if it’s more complicated, then hospitalisation may set you back about R2000 up to R 10 000. Yeah we know – WOWZA! ,

Wait…there’s more (specialised therapy and dentistry)
  • Underwater treadmill therapy for injured animals or animals with joint issues may cost about R290 each session.
  • Laser therapy for inflammation and pain costs about R114 per session
  • Rehabilitation will set you back about R600 for the first session and R500 thereafter
  • Dental scaling and polishing costs roughly R1300 for cats and R1500 for dogs
  • Blood tests cost about R660
Food and lodging for your fussy furry fluff ball

Let’s not forget about the various food and comfy bedding options that are available to your cat or dog. If you fancy some fine dining for your pet then bear in mind that if you go for a dog food like Hills, this can cost you between R300 to R1000 every month (PER PET). That brings us to choosing a bed which can cost you anywhere from R250 to R1000, any toys which start around R50 and of course grooming which can cost about R200 for a small dog at the groomers which is typically done monthly or bi-weekly.

Now, what if you go away for a family holiday and sadly your little Rex cant come with you. Kennels can cost you anywhere between R100 a night or more…

And we haven’t even started on the collar, lead, extra blankets, puppy school a kennel for outside, a heater for that kennel, perhaps another bed for your study so that your furry kid can sleep next to you in the lounge while you watch movies… and the list goes on.

RIP Rex The sad truth of owning any pet is that one day, as heartbreaking as it will be, you will have to say goodbye to him or her. The cost of euthanising your loving little guy may be anywhere from R1000 or more, it is likely to be a lot more, especially if you want your pet cremated.

Pet insurance – The best bet for your bank account At this point, it becomes pretty clear as to just how many costs are involved in owning a pet and how hard this can be on your pocket. In order to ensure that both you and your pet can have peace of mind when it comes to footing the bill for routine and often unexpected vet bills, we suggest that you insure your furry family member as soon as possible.

Pet insurance gives you something to fall back on and provides you with some emotional and financial stability should something go wrong and your pet needs to be rushed to the vet.

If pet insurance is the way you want to go after you have read this reality-stricken article, then you are barking up the right tree at Oneplan. Call us today for a quote for quality petcare.

Yours in paws,

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