Being a responsible pet owner

Pet owner responsibilities

A new pet is exciting, but owning a pet long-term is a responsibility and it is important that you choose a pet that is right for your lifestyle, budget and home environment.

You must think about all of the following before you buy a pet:

  • if you can you take care of a pet its whole life
  • if you can afford a pet
  • if you have time to care for a pet
  • if anyone in your home has pet allergies
  • if your home is suitable for a pet.

Buying a pet means you have a duty of care to that animal. If you do not care for your animal you could face penalties for not providing the minimum level of care.

Pets for life

A dog's life can span between 10 and 15 years, while cats can live up to 20 years. 

During your pet's life you need to think about them each time you plan a holiday and when you move house. 

You need to think about your pet when your lifestyle changes eg: if you have children or decide to introduce other pets.


There are many costs involved with owning a pet. 

As a guide, the ongoing costs for a dog can easily add up to $1,500 each year and $750 for a cat. This is not including vet costs.

You should work out costs for all of the following items to see if you can afford a pet for life:

  • cost of a pet
  • vaccinations
  • identification - micro-chipping, identification tags
  • registration
  • de-sexing
  • basic food
  • fresh food
  • water and food containers
  • holiday care at home or in kennels
  • toys
  • vet checks and treatments
  • grooming - hair and nail cuts, dental fees, brushes
  • collars, leash, halters
  • buying and maintaining a bed, kennel, shelter, tank, outdoor run or stable
  • property fencing, gates
  • routine protection from ticks, worms and fleas
  • training costs
  • pet insurance.

Time needed for your pet

Different pets need different levels of care and attention. 

When choosing a pet, think about how much time you can give them every day. 

You need to give your pet time for all of the following:

  • food and water
  • exercise, attention and play
  • grooming
  • cleaning their living environment
  • training.

How suitable is your home

Think about your home now and in the future for the type of animal you want to buy. 

Rental or shared accommodation can make a difference.

You should discuss your intention to buy a pet with you landlord and housemates before committing.

Think about all of the following:

  • is your home is secure and large enough
  • a puppy may dig up your garden or chew your shoes
  • if the pet is going to be an indoor or outdoor animal, or both
  • if there is shelter from rain and heat while your pet is outside
  • if you have a pet already, how will this pet react to another pet.

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Last updated: 04 March 2016

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