Explore Pet Insurance

Eliza BuglarWritten by Eliza Buglar
Reviewed by Adrian Taylor
Last updated 30/01/2024

Key takeaways

If you’re considering welcoming a pooch into the family, the initial cost of your furry friend is just one of the expenses you’ll need to consider. You also need to know that:

  • Dogs cost more in their first year due to prescribed costs like vaccinations and microchipping.
  • Pet owners spend an average of $3,218 on their dog each year after that.
  • Pet food, vet expenses, and healthcare are the biggest costs of owning a dog.
  • Pet insurance can help cover some of these costs and give you peace of mind.

Adrian Taylor, General Manager

Expert tips for saving money on pet insurance

Our resident pet insurance expert, Adrian Taylor, has helpful tips for saving on your pet insurance.

Consider routine care cover

Adding routine care to your policy can give you a world of value. It can help cover some of your dog’s preventative care expenses like check-ups, vaccinations, and dental treatment. Some policies even offer benefits for grooming and behavioural therapy. Some insurers may offer dental cover and behavioural training cover as a separate add-on for an additional fee.

Insure your pet as soon as possible

Get pet insurance when your dog is young or before they show symptoms of health issues or common diseases that may be treated as pre-existing conditions and excluded from cover. Another benefit of insuring your fur baby early is that you can keep the same cover throughout their life with fewer exclusions for health problems. Premiums are also typically cheaper for young pets.

Increase your excess to reduce your premiums

You can reduce the cost of pet insurance by increasing your policy excess, which is the fixed sum you’d have to contribute towards claims. A higher excess often means lower pet insurance premiums and vice versa. This may only work for some dog owners, so consider the ongoing costs of your premiums against how frequently you think you’ll claim annually.

General costs of owning a dog

How much does it cost to own a dog?

Here are the main annual costs of owning a dog, including food, healthcare, grooming, and other expenses, sorted by category:1

Item(s)Annual average household spend
Dog food$2,024
Vet visits/services (including vaccination costs)$631
Healthcare products (including alternative products)$428
Accessories and other dog products$349
Grooming services$196
Training classes/behaviour therapy$166
Pet insurance$152
Kennel/boarding fees$104
Transport costs$70

How much does a puppy cost in their first year?

Puppies or new dogs you bring into your home can cost between $3,000 and $6,000 in their first year alone, according to MoneySmart.2

The first year of pet ownership can be one of the most expensive because of prescribed costs like council registration fees, adoption fees (if applicable), microchipping, initial vaccinations, and de-sexing. You’ll probably need essential items like a collar, dog bed, and lead to get your new pet started on the right paw.

What is the average cost of owning a dog?

Australians spend an average of $3,218 caring for their dog each year and possibly more if they’ve got multiple pets per household. If you think about it, keeping a grown pooch fed and healthy can cost as much as an overseas holiday. Of course, costs vary based on your dog’s breed, healthcare and lifestyle needs, and expected lifespan (10-13 years).


Healthcare costs to consider for your dog

Cost of owning a dog

Healthcare costs of dog ownership

Besides feeding your pet, vet bills and healthcare are the biggest expenses of owning a canine.

  • Vet bills and healthcare fees alone can total more than $1,000 per year, according to Animal Medicines Australia
  • Annual vaccinations and check-ups generally cost about $90, according to the RSPCA
  • De-worming, flea treatments, and heartworm medication can set you back $120 – $300 annually.

Pet insurance for your dog can help cover some of those costs, including vaccinations and de-worming if you have routine care as an optional extra.

How much is pet insurance for dogs?

Pet insurance can cost roughly between $25 and $80 per month,3 although premiums will vary depending on factors like your pet’s age, breed, health status, the type of pet insurance you have, and your insurer, to name a few.

A basic accident and illness policy can cover accidental injuries and illnesses, while comprehensive pet insurance policies may have a routine care add-on for vaccinations, worming, dental care, and even behavioural training. Some basic pet plans will only cover accidents. Check your pet insurance Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) for details.


Important to know

Vet nurse holding a French bulldog

De-sexing your dog

De-sexing your puppy or dog is the responsible thing to do to prevent unwanted litters and/or aggressive behaviour. De-sexing can cost between $200 and $500,4 depending on the size, age, and gender of your dog. Spaying a female dog is usually more expensive because the procedure is more complex.

Microchipping your dog

Microchipping your dog is compulsory in all Australian states and territories, except in the Northern Territory, where microchipping is a condition of registration in Darwin only. The average cost to get your pet microchipped in Australia is around $45, according to the RSPCA.4 This microchipping cost can vary but is a one-time payment.

Registering your dog

You need to register all dogs you own with your local council – which can cost between $30 and $190 per dog per year.3 Councils may lower the cost in some circumstances – such as if your pet is de-sexed or a service animal like a guide dog. Registration costs vary and each council has its own rules about how you register and how regularly you need to renew your pet’s registration.

Adrian Taylor, General Manager

Meet our pet insurance expert, Adrian Taylor

As the Executive General Manager of General Insurance at Compare the Market, Adrian Taylor has over 13 years’ experience in the financial services industry. Adrian specialises in customer experience and is dedicated to helping customers better understand insurance products so they can save money on their household bills.


1 Animal Medicines Australia – Pets in Australia: A national survey of pets and people. Accessed May 2023.

2 Australian Government Moneysmart – Getting a pet – How much it costs to own a dog or cat. Accessed May 2023.

3 Obtained from completed quotes on our comparison service. The cheapest quote was for a young (< 1 year old) Ragdoll cat, de-sexed, in Brisbane. The dearest quote was for a young Labrador, de-sexed, in Brisbane, with the highest possible benefit percentage and highest annual limit, and all options included (05 May 2023).

4 RSPCA − The costs of owning a dog. Accessed May 2023.

single alexksander portrait in bottom global block

Ready to look for a better deal? It’s easy to compare with us.

Compare pet insurance
single sergei portrait in bottom global block