Counting the real cost of a pet for Christmas

A CUDDLY animal that can fill your house with love and joy for years to come is the perfect gift for Christmas, but welcoming a new addition to the family can carry unexpected costs, leave pets neglected or dumped at shelters after the festive season.

In Queensland, 21 per cent of the dogs received in animal shelters were euthanized between 2012-2013, which totalled over 10,000 animals.

The RSPCA reports more animals are surrendered in January than any other time of the year, attributed to owners who find they cannot care for the pets they were gifted for Christmas.


Classified websites such as Gumtree also report advertisements for animals being given away for free increase to more than six times the average of the rest of the year after the holiday period.

Sustenhance Veterinarian Dr David Isaac said it is important to understand the costs associated with pet ownership and how to give and care for animals responsibly before gifting a pet for Christmas.

“The first cost is registration; depending on the dog and council regulations, most dogs need to be registered by 12 weeks of age and this starts from $120.00,” Dr Isaac said.

“The second cost is having the animal desexed. Veterinarians recommend desexing your dog or cat to prevent unwanted pregnancies, resolve behavioural issues, cease bleeding for females in season and can reduce or eliminate ‘spraying’ in cats. These procedures can start from $80.

“Another cost for pets is immunisation. A disease such as parvovirus is very serious and can be fatal even with treatment. Puppy vaccinations can commence from six weeks of age and aim to be completely vaccinated by 12 weeks of age.

“It is recommended that your puppy or kitten doesn’t socialise with other animals, or go for walks in parks until at least one week after their last vaccination.

“Worming is also essential for pets, as worms are a common cause of ill health in pets and cause problems such as, appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea and in severe cases can even be fatal.

At this time of year fleas and ticks are an issue in pets, which can cause allergic reactions and even death.

“Finally dogs need to be trained and cared for appropriately. Dogs need between 30-60 minutes of exercise per day, require house-breaking training from an early age and need to be sourced from an ethical seller.”

Dr Isaac urges consumers to consider the person they are purchasing a pet for and if their lifestyle can fit an animal in it.