Two in five of us have a pet but ownership is considerably more expensive than people think. According to PDSA research, 2.6 million owners said their pet would cost up to £500 over their entire lifetime. In reality, a cat costs around £17,000, while a dog can set you back £16,000 to £31,000 depending on the breed.
Pedigree or crossbreed
If you’re thinking of buying a pet, choose a rescue animal over a pricey pedigree - crossbreeds often have far fewer health problems to contend with. Plus, if you adopt a dog or cat, the rescue centre will have them spayed/neutered and make sure they’re vaccinated before they come to you.
- Find an animal to rehome from BlueCross, DogsTrust, or CatChat. If you want to rescue a certain dog breed use DogPages.
Save on vet bills
Vet bills can be extortionate and uninsured owners typically fork out £810 per incident to treat their sick or injured animal says MORE TH>N – which is three times more expensive than an average £261 annual insurance policy. Vet treatment for sprains, arthritis and hip dysplasia can top £1,200. To reduce pet insurance premiums, owners with more than one animal can opt for a multi-pet policy saving 5-15 per cent compared to separate contracts.
- You can save on medicine costs by being online via VioVet and PetDrugsOnline. To order medication you’ll need a prescription fro your veterinary surgeon. Alternatively, ask your vet about over-the-counter options from the chemist.
Protecting your pet
Pet insurance doesn’t usually cover vaccinations and worming and flea treatments but joining a pet health scheme will give you discounted jabs, wellness checks and money-off treatments for a monthly payment, for example ThePetHealthClub charges £12.50 monthly for small dogs and cats and £15.50 for larger dogs, and TheHealthyPetClub from £10.99 per month.
Boarding fees for a kennel or cattery will push up your holiday budget, so asking a friend or neighbour to help out or forming a pet-sitting club with local pet owner friends could save you money - and be a great way to meet fellow pet lovers, too.
- Register with BorrowMyDoggy for some mutually beneficial doggy day-care!
Feeding eats up cash. On average a cat owner spends £48 on food, rising to £54 a month for a dog – more than a quarter of the cost to feed a human, says Protect Your Bubble. You can save by bulk buying pet food from websites such as Zooplus or Pet-supermarket which offer popular brands for less. The larger the amount, the less it’ll cost you so consider clubbing together with friends to bulk buy.
- Supermarkets regularly run price drops on pet foods. To check out the latest offers visit mySupermarket to find best buys at the leading stores.
Grooming and treats
We lavish £183 on toys and treats and £26 on clothing, bedding and accessories yearly, says American Express. Save on the £177 annual grooming cost by buying pet hair and claw clippers and doing the job yourself while children’s toys in charity shops make a cheap alternative to pricey pet toys. Sign up to the free PetsAtHome VIP card to save in stores and receive a birthday treat! Make homemade pet-friendly treats using Cesarsway for inspiration. Ultimately, as long as you provide your pet with a healthy diet, fresh water, treatment when needed, exercise and love, you’ll have one happy four-legged friend!
- If you can’t afford to own a pet, share one. Local animal rescue centres need walkers or volunteer to be a guide-dog puppy walker, or offer dog-walking or pet-sitting services.
Paws for thought
- Dogs aged eight weeks and over must be microchipped, so the animal’s owner can be traced. Chipless owners face a £500 fine.
- If you own a West Highland White called Ellie you’re likely to be seeing the vet as it’s the most accident-prone pet!
- Check you’re covered for accidental damage on your home insurance. A tortoise knocked over a heat lamp causing a fire and £6,000 damage bill. The tortoise was ok.
- Three in five of owners say their pet has improved their health and wealth, with pets saving a person £322 annually in healthcare costs, says Purina.
- Dog lovers are fit typically walking 351 hours a year, covering 1,092 miles, says Butcher’s Pet Care.
Words Sarah Jagger, Yours Money Editor
- For more pet-care tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine