Doggone! Buy car, go to college... or keep a pet

Cost of owning a pet will eat huge chunk of your budget

How much is that doggie in the window? About Dh13,500. At least.

About as much as a second-hand car.

And that is at the lower-end of the pet care scale.

Trying to explain to your child that having a dog might cost him/her a substantial contribution to the college fund might be as futile as trying to maintain a pet on a tight budget.

It largely depends on the kind of pet you have, off course.

A rabbit won't need as much care as cats or dogs do. A bird might even be cheaper.

However, going by the cats and dogs numbers in Dubai and after speaking to pet stores and vets, it’s quite clear that feline or canine are the home animals of choice.

Having a pet in the UAE is not simple because of laws and regulations that define the boundaries of keeping animals.

This website decided to put some numbers down and see how much, approximately, does it cost to own and keep a pet in the UAE.*

Microchip and registration
In the UAE, pets need to be carrying a microchip, a tiny glass cylinder foreseen of a unique number that can be read by a scanner.

In case a dog or cat walks away or gets lost, he or she will be recognised by this number and if you registered your pet, it will be brought back to you.

This microchip costs around Dh150 and is mandatory.

And if you really want the microchip to pay off, you should register your pet, which costs up to Dh100.

Cost: Dh250

Every pet in the UAE needs to be vaccinated. This should happen right after his birth, and needs to be repeated annually.

The first vaccination is pricier than the annual one; you can expect to pay a rough Dh300 at a vet clinic. After that, the vaccination can be done for 200 dirham a year.

These vaccinations are mandatory, and need to be registered in a health certificate. That's right, another expenditure. Health certificates are usually charged around Dh150.
Cost: Dh450

Pet food is expensive. "My dog needs two cans of food a month, that will cost me Dh280," says Diggy Singh, 32, from India, and Manish Jain, 25,  from India spends even more: 500-600 dirhams a month.  

And that is food only. "I get my dog treats and mouth fresheners every day," says Diggy, adding that this costs around Dh15.

Cat food is not much cheaper. Ania Tesorero, 28, from the Philipines says to pay around Dh300 a month. Sultan Al-Jonaibi, 19, from the UAE used to have a cat, but remembers a monthly expenditure of Dh400 on food only.

Cost (annual): Dh3,600-Dh6,000.

The Vet
"A good pet owner takes his pet to the vet every three months for grooming," says Gaurav Mahindra, manager of Pet Corner.

Especially the fur of the dog needs good caring, and if neglected, can result into having knots that are even harder to take care of.

Grooming is therefore not a luxury, and has an average cost of Dh250.

Then, the owner can choose to take care of the nails, do a regular flea treatment and of course there is a chance the pet gets ill.

Though the price to cure illness alternates depending on the problem, dog owners.

Manish and Diggy both estimate their average pet visits to cost them between Dh1,000 and Dh1,500.

Cat owners are less likely to visit the vet regularly; both Ania and Sultan said not to be spending large sums on this post.

Costs (annual): Dh2,000-Dh2,500.
Adding up these expenditures, we would come to an annual of between Dh6,000 and Dh9,000. And these are just the basics.

The extras
When you have a cat, for example, you would need to buy a litter box, litter, a food and water bowl and for the cat to have a decent sense of enjoyment; a scratching post and toys.

For a dog this would be a leash, collar, food and water bowl, if you let your dog stay outside a dog shelter, and for the sake of the dogs happiness; toys and chewys.

“My husband built a dog house of sorts so the little pup could spend lots of time outside during the cooler months. He spent about 300 dirhams in supplies for it,” says Goldolocks (blog name), although the rest of the supplies they found for a Dh100 at a second hand garage sale.

Jill says to have spent Dh450 on basic supplies for her dog, and Ania says to have spent around Dh300 on basic supplies for her cat.

Sultan, who wanted his cat to feel at home, says to have spent at least Dh2,500 on supplies, providing his cat with a carpet, sofa and own little home.

So depending on the pet kind you have, the start-up costs easily start from Dh300, respectively Dh400, and can reach as high as you want.  

There are tons of other things you can, and probably will think of buying when having a pet, simply because you love your pet and will feel tempted to treat him every time you get into a pet shop and get exposed to all the goodies out there.  

“I buy treats and toys without looking at the price. Completely unlike me, as I look at the price of everything when I'm shopping for myself. But when it comes to my pets, I buy whatever keeps them happy,” says Jill, who estimates this spending reaches expenditures of a Dh100 a month.

Additionally, having a pet might cause unforeseen damages with pricy consequences.

“What we hadn't taken into account was the cost of repair or replacement of our outdoor furniture. The little pup is chewing and scratching the arms and legs to bits. I don't even know how much we'll spend on repairing it,” says Goldilock.

Finally, when having purchased all you think the pet needs and having adjusted your monthly budget to the new member of the household, there is one expenditure that will probably face every pet owner at least once a year: pet care.

Very likely, when holidays are coming up you are planning to leave the country, or at least your house for a couple of days. And traveling with a cat or dog is not the most practical solution.

Luckily, many kennels and home care centers are there to provide the suitable, but costly solution. These solutions range from someone passing by your home on a daily basis to take care of your pet, to five-star hotels in which pets are taken care of and spoiled until you come back. Depending on the luxury you offer your pet, these solution can cost between Dh60-80 for a cat and Dh70-100 for a dog. Per a day.

Taking that an average annual vacation lasts 30 days, this comes to an average of Dh2,100 for cat care and Dh2,450 for dogs.

So, let’s do the counting:
Basics: Dh6,000-Dh9,000
Supplies: Dh300-Dh400
Extras: Dh1,200
Pet care: Dh2,100-Dh2,450
Total: Dh 9,600-Dh13,050
“I spend TOO MUCH on my doggy,” says Jill. And who would disagree?

* All costs are indicative and only approximate
* Costs are not animal-specific and could vary depending on animal and size

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