The prospect of getting a pet is exciting for many animal lovers. Whether it's been your childhood dream to get a dog or you are yearning for extra emotional support and companionship in your golden years, you may be tempted to go out and buy your first pet on a whim. However, pet ownership comes with plenty of costs. Beyond the purchase price, you will be responsible for maintaining your pet's health, nutrition and entertainment. Below, we break down the true cost of owning a dog, cat or small pet in Singapore.
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Average Cost of Owning A Pet in Singapore
There are many costs involved in owning a pet, including purchase or adoption, medical, grooming and training costs. According to our research, it costs S$25,800 on average to own a dog over 10 years. Cats are less expensive, costing at least S$15,600 over 10 years. However, your total cost can significantly increase if you choose to buy a pedigree cat or dog from a breeder. Below, we break down the average annual cost of the most common pet owner expenses in detail, excluding initial purchasing costs.
|Expense||Annual Cost (Dog)||Annual Cost (Cat)|
|Routine Vaccines (1x every 3 years)||S$239||S$174|
|Heartworm Injections (annual)||S$100||N/A|
|Basic Medical & Dental (annual)||S$631||S$236|
|Grooming (Package; 4x per year)||S$274||S$312|
|Food||S$1,415 (Dry)||S$864 (Wet, Canned)|
|Misc. (Bed, Toys, Leash)||S$266||S$346|
|Annual Recurring Cost||S$3,221||S$1,932|
Cost of Owning a Dog
The first year of purchasing and owning a dog costs S$3,415 on average. Over 10 years, you can expect to spend S$25,829.
Cost of Purchasing a Dog
In Singapore, you can either buy a puppy from a breeder or adopt from a shelter. Buying a dog typically from a pet store or breeder can cost a few thousand dollars. For example, a Golden Retriever and a Japanese Spitz both cost around $2,500 at a reputable pet store. Adopting from a shelter is a cheaper alternative. The adoption fee varies depending on the shelter, but prices generally run between S$180 and S$350. This fee includes vaccinations, microchipping, a health checkup and a sterilization procedure. While adopting a dog is cheaper, the process is more strict and involves an application and home visits to ensure your new pet is in a good home.
Adoption centres are also part of Project ADORE (ADOption and REhoming of dogs), which is a scheme allowing HDB residents to own medium sized local cross breed dogs. The cost for adopting a dog under this project totals S$500 for adoption and training and a S$15 annual dog license fee.
Cost of Medical Care & Vaccinations
Visiting the veterinarian is unavoidable, especially as your dog ages. First, you should make sure your dog is fully vaccinated. The type of vaccinations your dog needs depends on where you purchased it and how old it is. If you bought an unvaccinated puppy younger than 8 weeks old, you will need to vaccinations against multiple diseases including distemper, parvovirus and canine infectious hepatitis. These vaccinations should be taken 4 weeks apart.
Adopted adult dogs will already have their first round of vaccinations and will only need routine upkeep. All dogs should get re-vaccinated if necessary every 3 years. Vaccination services typically cost S$51 for a 9-1 or 8-1 shot, which include most of the necessary vaccines. You should also look into getting a heartworm injection annually, which costs around S$100. If you are concerned about over-vaccinating your dog, you can find a vet clinic that offers titer tests (e.g. Vaccicheck), a type of test to make sure your dog still has the required antibodies.
You should also take your dog to the vet for a basic medical and dental check-up once a year. Older dogs with certain health conditions may require a review every 3-6 months. Some clinics offer package diagnostic services that include a full physical exam, blood tests and urinalysis for a 10-15% discount. As your dog ages, you may need to add in other routine medical costs, such as arthritis injections and glucose supplements, which start at a cost of S$40. Lastly, you may decide to spay or neuter your pet, which costs around S$300 and is typically more expensive for large or female dogs. You may avoid paying for sterilisation if you adopted your pet, as it may have already undergone the procedure.
Surgery and serious medical conditions can get quite costly. For instance, bone fracture and gastronomy procedures can cost up to $4,000 and $2,500 respectively. Furthermore, diagnostic procedures such as ultrasounds can cost between S$41 to S$440 depending on the body part. To help you cover some of the medical costs in the event of a pricier illness or accident, a pet insurance policy can be of use. Some pet insurance policies can even cover costs for chemotherapy, room and board and congenital diseases and cost between S$80 and S$450 per year. However, you should note that pet insurance doesn't cover non-emergency medical attention. For instance, routine and preventative care won't be covered by your policy.
Cost of Dog Services: Grooming, Training, Dog-Walking
It is recommended that you groom your dog depending on its coat. For instance, short-haired double coated dogs need to be groomed around 4 times a year, short-haired dogs may need a quick brushing, and dogs with thick undercoats may need to get seasonal grooming. Full grooming sessions would cost anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on the size and breed, and include ear cleaning, nail cutting & paw pad shaving, shaving hygiene areas and a full fur trim. You can also see if your vet clinic offers basic grooming services, such as ear cleaning and nail clipping, where it may be cheaper. For instance, some veterinary clinics advertise these services for 50% less than what you'll see in grooming centres. Lastly, you can opt to skip fancy grooming sessions and simply wash your dog every two weeks if your dog's fur permits it. Pet shampoos can be purchased for as low as S$10.50 (for a 250ml bottle).
|Full Grooming Package||S$68|
|Ear Cleaning/Nail Cutting||S$18|
|Dog Walking Service||S$15-S$20/walk|
If you work long hours but still want a dog, you will have to consider outsourcing activities like dog training and walking. If you are unable to walk them before or after work, you have the option of hiring a dog walker. Dog walkers typically cost between S$15 and S$20 per walk, although you may be able to find a dog walker for as low as S$10 per walk. If you need your dog walked twice a day, you will be looking at an average annual expenditure of S$14,600. Furthermore, you may need to invest in training sessions if you need to train your dog in basic obedience. Dog training sessions can cost around S$75 per session and come in packages of 8-10 hour-long or 1.5-hour-long sessions. In most cases, this is a one-time expense and can be beneficial if you are having a tough time training your dog on your own.
Cost of Miscellaneous Expenses
Food is one of the most significant expenses associated with owning a dog. Additionally, there are many types for you to choose from. For instance, there is the standard dry food (kibble), wet food, raw dehydrated and frozen food. Wet, frozen and raw dehydrated food is more expensive than kibble, but they advertise higher nutrition benefits and quality ingredients.
|Food (Dry, 2kg)*||S$35|
|Leash & Collar||S$92|
|Total Annual Cost||S$1,680|
|* Annual Cost of S$1,415|
Other miscellaneous items you will probably need to buy include a leash and collar, toys and a dog bed. A leash and collar can cost as low as S$2-S$3 but can be as expensive as S$75 for a leather collar and S$130 for a high-tech retractable leash. Toys and dog beds have a similarly wide range. For instance, a tennis ball can cost as low as S$2, whereas certain dog brands can charge over S$35 for a single toy. A dog bed can cost as low as S$10.50, but go up to almost S$200 for more premium options. While price will play the greatest role in what you choose to buy for your pet, you should also make sure the materials used aren't detrimental to your dog's health.
Average Cost of a Cat
The average annual cost of keeping a cat is S$1,900 after purchasing costs. While cats potentially require less upkeep than dogs and are thus cheaper to keep over the long run, there are still plenty of expenses to consider including medical care, grooming, food and toys.
Cost of Purchasing a Cat
If you choose to adopt a cat or kitten, you can expect to spend an average of S$86 in adoption fees, although pedigree cats will cost slightly more at an average cost of S$200. Alternatively, if you decide to purchase a kitten from a pet store, you may end up paying several times more than at an adoption centre. Pedigree kittens can cost anywhere from S$300 to S$800, which the average cost being S$600. Some rare pedigree cat breeds such as Bengal cats can even cost upwards of S$1,500.
Medical Costs & Vaccinations
You will need to make sure your cat has the proper vaccinations, receives routine medical and dental care and is sterilised. The core 4-in-1 vaccination costs an average of S$40, while other vaccines such as the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, rabies and Feline Leukemia vaccines, cost between S$40-S$50. Sterilisation costs an average of S$210 and is typically 40% cheaper for male cats than female cats. You should also take your cat in for a general medical and dental check-up depending on its age. Kittens and elderly cats will require more frequent medical attention (a few times a year), while adult cats are fine with an annual check-up. You should also be sure to microchip your cat after purchase. Microchipping a cat costs between S$50 and S$90 in Singapore.
|Medical Procedure||Average Cost|
|Basic Health Check||S$45|
|Core Vaccination (4-1)||S$39|
|Feline Immunodeficiency Virus||S$50|
|Feline Leukemia Vaccination (FeLV)||S$43|
Cost of Grooming
Grooming your cat can be done at home or by a professional grooming service. If you want to groom your cat yourself, you can purchase shampoos, nail clippers and brushes. All of these items generally cost between S$15-S$20. However, it may be worthwhile occasionally taking your cat to a professional groomer, especially if have a restricted time schedule. A basic grooming package that includes nail trimming, ear cleaning, paw pad shaving, bathing and blow drying costs an average of S$80. Groomers will change their cost depending on how many services you want and the type of fur your cat has. For instance, cats with longer fur will typically cost 16% more to professionally groom than short-haired cats. Lastly, if you want to style your cat with a certain haircut, prices increase by 20-30%.
|Basic Grooming Package||S$78|
|Grooming Accessories (Brush, Shampoo, Clippers)||S$20/each|
Miscellaneous Costs (Food, Toys, Litter Accessories)
Keeping your cat well fed and entertained is a good way to ensure your pet is happy and will bond with you. Cats should be fed around 3 oz of wet cat food per day (equivalent to one 80-85g can). We estimate your average annual expenditure on cat food will be S$864 per year, considering the average price of an 80g of wet cat food is S$2.40. You should make sure you look for brands that don't skimp on necessary vitamins and make their food with high quality ingredients to ensure your cat will be getting the necessary nutrients.
Other miscellaneous expenses include your cat's litter box and litter and toys. The average cost of a litter box is around S$70, but you can find basic versions for S$8-S$10. Next, you'll need to consider the cost of supplying litter. There are several types of kitty litter, including crystal, natural, paper, sand/clay and pine litter. The average cost of 10L bag of sand/clay kitty litter is S$8, paper and natural litter is slightly more expensive, around S$14 for a 7L bag and crystal litter costs even more at around S$10 for a 5L bag. All in all, this averages to S$1.50 per litre of cat litter. Lastly, you may want to keep your cat entertained with toys. Simple toys can be quite cheap, with some costing as low as S$2. However, complex toys like tunnels can cost as much as S$90. Scratching board or post typically cost between S$11.60 to S$35 and can be a beneficial method for keeping your cat's nails in shape.
Cost of Owning a Small Pet
A small pet such as a rabbit or guinea pig can be a good choice if you don't have space for a larger animal. You can expect to spend around S$500 in recurring costs on your small pet. You can purchase small pets like rabbits, guinea pigs and chinchillas from pet stores or by adopting one from the SPCA. Adoption fees range from S$10 for a non-pedigree rabbit or hamster to S$100 for a chinchilla. However, unlike adopting a dog or a cat that will always come sterilised, vaccinated and microchipped, you may have to get these procedures done yourself (mainly for rabbits). Medical costs are pretty much the same as for small dogs and cats. For instance sterilisation costs around S$260 for a rabbit and consultation fees typically cost under S$50. However, you should bear in mind that surgery and complex medical procedures can easily cost several hundred to a couple thousand dollars.
|Adoption||S$10-S$100 (depending on pet)|
|Powder Bath Grooming Package||S$35|
If you want to get your small pet groomed, prices change depending on the type of grooming you need and your pet's fur length. Typically, individual services like nail clipping and ear cleaning will be the cheapest, while water bath grooming sessions will typically cost the most (at least 60-80% more than powder bath grooming sessions).
Lastly, housing and feeding your pet will ensure its healthy and safety. Small cages for rabbits and chinchillas can cost anywhere from S$55 for the most basic plastic cage to S$400 for wooden, luxury cages. Food costs range greatly, since some small pets like hamsters may only require high-quality pellets while rabbits typically need a combination of Timothy hay, fruits and vegetables and pellets. Typically a bag of small mammal food costs S$6.60 per KG bag. Considering that a 2kg small pet should eat around 170 grams of hay per day, you can expect to spend at least S$400 on food per year.
Other Factors to Consider
Domesticated animals are highly intelligent creatures that require daily attention and care. Hundreds of pets end up in Singapore's shelters due to non-committal owners, so it is vital that you are willing to make changes to your life to ensure your pet is healthy and happy.
You should also avoid purchasing purebred dogs and cats from sites like GumTree, since these dogs could be illegally bred. Furthermore, you should be advised that purebred puppies typically come from puppy mills. Conditions in these places are typically inhumane and the puppies come with a plethora of additional healthcare problems. Thus, your several-thousand-dollars pet will may come with an additional thousands of dollars worth of genetic and acquired health problems.
To find the average cost of owning a pet in Singapore, we analysed publically available pricing. For instance, we looked at published consultation and procedure rates from veterinary offices medical costs, adoption centre websites for adoption fees and online pet stores such as Kohepets and Pet Lovers Centre for dog food and toy prices. For food, we used a standard serving of 1 cup per day (224 grams) as this is the Are You Feeding Your Dog the Right Amount? for a small to medium sized dog. For grooming, we also used a small to medium sized dog for price quotes. This led us to the average annual price of a dog. We then found out how often you would need to repeat these expenses to calculate the average cost over 10 years.
Please note that this article explores the average cost of major pet-related expenses and your individual costs may be less or greater than the figures shown here. Furthermore, some expenses were not considered due to the sheer scope of everything that comes with owning a pet. For instance, there are many smaller expenses, such as food and water bowls, carriers and pet hotels were not calculated.