Taking care of Brodie is Ava Bowers,6, of Darra. Picture: AAP/Ric Frearson
Taking care of Brodie is Ava Bowers,6, of Darra. Picture: AAP/Ric Frearson

Pets really chew through the cash

THE cost of owning a dog or cat over its lifetime could cost you more than a new car, but parenting experts say owning a pet can be invaluable in teaching your child responsibility.

Figures from ASIC's MoneySmart website show the cost of owning a dog adds up to $25,000.

While cats cost slightly less, they also live longer than dogs, so end up costing the same.

Certified financial planner Adele Martin said it was obvious which of her clients were pet owners because generally their grocery bill was much higher.

She said examining your budget and making sure you could afford a pet was vital.

"Often, it's the first year that can be most expensive," she said.

"But some of the ongoing costs can hurt your budget if you don't factor them in, like emergency vet bills, boarding kennels and regular tablets for things like fleas and worming."

Dr Judith Locke, psychologist specialising in parenting and child wellbeing, said that while a pet could help nurture a child's responsibility, there were plenty of pitfalls parents could fall into.

"The child needs to show evidence of being mature before they get the pet … set up some goals for a child to feel like they have earned the right to get a pet and are responsible enough for that," she said.

''If a parent is not sure their child knows who's in charge in the house, then getting a pet could be a bad idea,'' she said.

"Clinically, I notice a lot of children have almost turned it on the parent and in a way, been nasty about the pet because they are pretty confident the parent will sweep up the mess."

Cristina Bowers of Darra in Brisbane's southwest, said her daughter Ava, 6, had been asking for a cat for a long time, but that she wanted her to understand cats weren't just cute, that they were hard work.

"She is responsible for changing his water, she feeds him she knows that is her responsibility," she said.

"We've seen a lot of changes in her. She has developed a lot of empathy, like if we are out and it starts getting dark she'll say 'we should get home to feed Klein and Brodie (the dog)'."

While Ms Bowers said pet ownership was not cheap, especially after receiving a $2000 emergency vet bill last year, she said she couldn't imagine her house without them.

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