5 “Hidden Costs” of Owning a Dog or Cat in Singapore

hidden costs dog cat singapore

Taking care of a cat or dog is nowhere near as expensive as raising a human child, but it certainly costs more than rearing Furbies or Tamagotchi.

When deciding whether or not you can afford to become a “furkid” parent, you will no doubt take into account obvious factors like the cost of pet food, litter, vaccinations and routine check-ups at the vet.

But is that really all?

Usually not. Most pet owners will encounter expenses that they forget to adequately budget for, catching them unaware. So before you take the plunge and adopt little Rover or Princess, here are some unexpected costs to consider.


1. Hefty veterinary bills — typically increases as your pet ages   

You probably already know you will need to bring your pet for routine checkups and other procedures such as vaccinations and de-worming.

But just as nobody thinks they’ll have to dig into their Medisave funds or make health insurance claims until they actually need to, pets can likewise need unexpected veterinary attention.

As your pet ages, it becomes increasingly likely they will have to see a vet. Like human beings, cats and dogs can also suffer from cancer, tumours, epilepsy or urinary tract infections. Bet you’ve never Googled for how much treatments for these can cost, right?

Even if your pet has the good fortune (and genes) to remain in relatively good health, the frequency of routine check-ups will increase, and boy, can those bills add up.

You can expect to pay around $20 to $60+ for a basic vet consultation, not inclusive of any medication or surgical procedures. Dental scaling usually costs around $200 to $300+ each time.

If you’re determined to give your pet the best veterinary care money can buy, you might want to consider purchasing a pet insurance policy.


2. Premium or prescription food — an extra cost for sick or elderly dogs and cats

If you used the supermarket pet food aisle prices to do your preliminary budgeting, then you might be in for a rude shock. Brands like Friskies and Caesar are known for being super cheap, but they aren’t exactly the best for your furkid.

Granted, they won’t kill your pet, but it’s basically innutritious junk food. Think of it like feeding your children potato chips for lunch and dinner every day.

Which is why many pet owners eventually end up upgrading to more premium brands of pet food. This is obviously good for your dog and/or cat’s health, but it does equate to additional costs.

Sometimes, it’s not even a matter or simply wanting to provide better. Your pet may have just developed ailments and medical conditions that require a change in diet as prescribed by the vet.

For instance, cats tend to be prone to urinary tract infections, and feeding wet food is one way to ensure they get sufficient moisture. Unfortunately, wet food is also a lot more expensive than dry food.

If your pet has, say, digestive issues, your vet may also recommend food for gastrointestinal issues.

What’s more, some pet owners find that their pets prefer certain brands or flavours, so don’t always assume yours will adore a certain type of food just because it’s the cheapest.


3. Pet taxis — paying a premium for pet transportation

If you have a car, then you can skip this section.

Paying a premium to fetch-and-ferry your furkid is unavoidable: your cat may not be allowed to leave the house and your dog may be happy exploring the void deck, but each time you go to the vet and/or groomer’s, you will need to find a way to transport your pet.

This is a very complicated affair, at least if you rely heavily on public transport. Pets are not allowed on the buses and MRT, and not all taxi drivers will accept animals in their cabs.

If you can get a taxi, great. If not, you will have to try your luck with a pet taxi service or ride-hailing app.

Popular pet taxi chauffeurs include Sg Pet Taxi by Bambi & Coco, Uncle Loo Pet Taxi, Fourkids Family Pet Taxi and more. Depending on which you choose, these can cost a flat fee of $30+ to $60+ per trip.

GoJek doesn’t have a dedicated ride option for pet passengers, but Grab does. GrabPet is currently in a Beta phase, and is up to 1.5X the price of the regular JustGrab or GrabCar fare.


4. Dog boarding fees — an additional cost of travelling

When you welcome a new pet into your home, the logistics of planning a holiday becomes even more tedious than it already is. You can’t just book a flight and scoot off on a long weekend — who’s going to feed and walk the furkids?

If you have family or friends who don’t mind pet-sitting for free, that’s ideal. But if not, you’ll need to pay a professional pet-sitter or check your pet into a pet hotel. Dog hotels can cost anywhere between $30 to $70+ per night.

Assuming you go for a week-long holiday, that can add up to $210 to $490+.


5. Professional dog grooming — unavoidable for certain breeds

It’s unrealistic to believe you can get away with just bathing your pet and trimming its fur and nails at home. Even if your furkid has short fur, that only buys you some time between grooming sessions.

This is especially so for dogs. Most dog owners send their dogs for grooming once every 1 or 2 months, but certain breeds like poodles, pomeranians and shih tzus may need more frequent sessions than average.

Basic dog grooming in Singapore typically costs around $40 to $70 for small dogs and $90 to $200 for big dogs.


What other unexpected expenses might pet owners incur? Tell us in the comments!