In today’s time with how the South African economy is performing money is a big concern for most people, especially at the end of the month. We all struggle to pay for kids, schools, homes, vehicles, insurance, outstanding debt, the list goes on … and then at the end of the month we still have to worry about our pets especially when they get sick. And we all know a trip to the vet can get very expensive pretty quickly!!!

Dogs and cats have become more than just pets to a lot of households they are deemed to be an extension of the family and many people place the same rights that children have on their pets and therefore expect the same quality of service from vets as from a doctor.

This blog is there to try help you budget for your pet’s expenses and offer advice. I have calculated everything based on an average 10-20kg dog and average domestic cat.

New Puppies & kittens:

pets dreamsGetting a new puppy or kitten is always very exciting. Buying all the new bowls, toys, treats and food. However, many people don’t realise or budget for the long term costs of owning a pet and what it takes to provide good health care to the new addition of the family. To compound this, pets nowadays are easily reaching 15 years plus.

  • Initial vaccinations:
    • Puppies require 3 vaccinations + deworming averaging R500.00 per vaccination.
    • Kittens require 2 vaccinations + deworming averaging R600.00 per vaccination.
  • At 6 months old it is highly recommended to Castrate/Spay your cat or dog and prices for the procedure range R1100.00 to R2400.00 and upwards for bigger dogs.
  • It is also highly recommended to microchip your pet so that if they ever get lost we will be able to track you down and return them. The average price is R350.00 per microchip and lifetime registration.
  • Further deworming every 3months @R25 -R50 per treatment
  • Tick and flea treatment is very important and we start this from 8 weeks old:
    • 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
  • Food: puppy food for the first year e.g. Hills: can cost anywhere from R300.00 to R1000.00 per month!!!!

So for the first 6 months of life your pet can potentially cost you +/_ R5,000.00 to R10,000.00. Yikes!!!

This does not take into account if your puppy or kitten gets sick during this period.

A new trend especially in the more affluent areas is doggy day-care. Where dogs are dropped off and looked after, while you are at work. The dogs develop very good social skills and have a heck of a lot of fun! Pets have become kids!!! This can range from R100.00 to R130.00 per day.

From 1 year onwards:


  • Dogs and Cats require annual vaccinations @ R500.00 for dogs and R 600.00 for cats.
  • Deworming every 3 months @R25 -R50 per treatment = R200.00 per year
  • Tick and flea treatment = up to R2000.00 per year
    • 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
  • Dental scale and polish budget for once a year R1200.00 to R1500.00 (usually this is required from 4 to 5 years old)
  • Food: Hills: R700.00 to R1000.00 per month. Up to R12000.00 per year
  • Anal glands or nail clipping. R100.00 per treatment = R300.00 per year

Yearly total: up to R15,000.00 = R1250.00 per month

Should your dog or cat get sick an average hospitalisation and medical workup could cost between R2000.00 to R5000.00. Triple this if they end up at a specialist.

Geriatric dogs:

geriatric dogBesides the above yearly and monthly costs which will remain the same, older pets tend to end up at the vet more often with old age related conditions, these include:

  • Lumps and tumours
  • Dental problems: scale and polish, repair of dental problems
  • Incontinence
  • Heart problems
  • Arthritis
  • Skin Problems

All the above will require a medical work up which on average will cost +- R2000.00 to R3000.00.

This excludes the chronic medication which many of these pets end up on which could range in the hundreds to thousands of rands per month.

Pet Insurance

So as can be seen it becomes quite pricey owning a pet and providing reasonably good health care for them during their life. Vets have the access and ability to do lots for sick animals but a lot of the time we are limited by the costs for diagnosis and treatment of our patients

My first piece of advice would be to put your pet on pet medical insurance as soon as possible. This will at least give you something to fall back on and provide you with piece of mind should something go wrong and you pet needs to be rushed to the vet. Many of them also help out with routine vet visits too.

Pet medical insurance usually ranges from R250.00 to R350.00pm per animal. Just google it and find out for yourself.

My second piece of advice would be to seriously sit down and take all these factors into account when deciding to adopt or buy a pet. Can your budget and time accommodate a pet and provide them with a good quality of life? And just remember you are taking on that responsibility for at least 15 years!!

Adopt a pet rather than buying a puppy or kitten. Our animal shelters are full of animals looking for homes and sadly many of them end up being euthanased! Many of the mixed breeds suffer from less health problems due to something called hybrid vigour compared to highly bred breeds. Plus, you have the satisfaction of knowing you have rescued and given a happy life to an animal that may have been put to sleep.

Dr. Michael Rissik, BVSc