Having a pet to love and look after is incredibly rewarding, however with bills rising it can also be difficult to keep up with the cost of caring for your furry friend.
Whether it be the cost of your weekly shop to the price of filling up at the petrol station, we’ve all noticed the price of things going up and many of us are beginning to feel the pinch. A troubling reality is that many pet owners experiencing growing financial pressures face the devastating possibility of having to give up their beloved pet. Research by the RSPCA revealed that 78% of 4,000 pet owners feel the cost of living crisis is going to impact on their animals, with 19% saying they’re really worried about being able to afford to feed their pets*. Not only this, according to The Dogs Trust, the number of owners contacting them about giving up their dog has “risen to the highest levels” since 2014*.
With the cost of living continuing to rise, today we’re exploring some of the ways you can save on some of the common costs that come with pet ownership. Read on to find out how you can provide your pet with what they need on a budget…
Shop second hand for toys, bowls and other supplies
Every pet parent likes to treat their pets, however it’s no secret that all of these costs add up over time. Research conducted by the PDSA showed the average dog could cost £30,800 over its lifetime – and for cats, the average annual cost is around £1,000 according to Battersea Dogs & Cats home.
Whether its toys, bowls or other supplies, you don’t always have to buy brand new – purchasing pre-loved goods is a great way to save you some extra money. Plus, you’ll be doing your part to help the environment. You can get some fantastic second hand goods from places like charities or online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay. However, it’s important to make sure the goods are safe and undamaged before use, and properly disinfected to prevent infection from one pet to another.
Generally speaking, take time to consider whether you really need an item before committing to the purchase. As many cat owners will testify, often your pets will get more enjoyment and comfort from playing with (or sleeping on) things that you already own than they do from the new products you buy for them. Often, there is no need to splurge on over expensive and overrated pet gadgets – lots of toys can be made at home and there are lots of free forms of entertainment and exercise such as a simple walk in the park.
2. Educate yourself about your pet’s grooming requirements
We all need a good trim every now and then and the same goes for our pets – however, some pets need it a bit more regularly than others, and those trips to the groomers can be a big hit to your bank balance!
It’s important not to neglect your pet’s grooming requirements, as grooming is a crucial preventative measure against painful matting, overgrown nails or skin-related problems. However, with the cost of living crisis squeezing finances, you may find yourself in a position where you need to increase the time between professional dog grooming visits. If you find yourself in this position, learning more about how you can groom your pet from home can help you keep your dog’s coat in good condition in the meantime.
This starts by researching what kind of grooming your pet needs, what tools you need to do that and seeking advice from qualified dog groomers. If you do decide to groom your pet from home, make sure you build up your pet’s comfort by making it a really positive experience with treats and praise to help. If in doubt, contact a professional dog groomer or local vet for advice on how regularly you should groom your dog and if there are any hazardous areas to be aware of for their breed. Check out our advice and tips for grooming your dog from home
It’s worth exploring the different dog grooming services in your area and you could consider switching to a cheaper service if you find one. You could also consider taking your pet to a dog grooming school such as CAW Grooming School, where prices are sometimes cheaper as grooming is completed by dog grooming students under the close direction of qualified dog groomers.
Bulk by pet food and seek cheaper alternatives where possible
You can make savings on your pet food by buying in bulk when it’s on sale and looking out for lower cost options. You can also look to places like charities, food banks or food waste reduction apps such as Too Good to Go for discounted or even free pet food. The key thing is to ensure your pet is getting a well-balanced, species-appropriate diet – you can gain professional advice and guidance from your vet or veterinary nurse about your pets nutritional needs.
More than this, chances are that your go-to pet store rewards loyalty. Subscribe to and follow your favorite pet brands to keep your eyes out for offers, discounts and promotions on products you like. It is also worth following reputable animal welfare organisations on social media to stay up to date with hints and tips to keep your pet safe and healthy.
Shop around for the best deals on pet insurance
At first investing in pet insurance may seem counterproductive, especially if your pet isn’t insured already, as it usually means paying a monthly fee or making a larger one-off purchase. However, taking out insurance may help in the long run as it may be cheaper than the big one-off bill you would receive in the event of a veterinary emergency.
If you already hold pet insurance it’s worth comparing prices between companies for like-to-like cover, just as you would look for the best deals on utilities or any other product. Just make sure you read the small print to be sure what’s included and choose something that is suitable for your pet and their individual circumstances. This can save you money on annual fees like yearly vaccinations, vet visits, even major surgeries and other procedures.
Ask friends and family to pet sit or dog walk
Going to work to earn money, or going on holiday, but not having anyone to look after your pet – it’s a dilemma.
While the pet sitting options for pet owners are varied, options like pet boarding or pet sitting services can be expensive – especially if you’re having them stay overnight. Instead, having a friend or family member watch your pets is another great way to save yourself money. Some people may be happy to do it for free, while others could request a small fee.
You could also consider neighbours that might be able to help, or other dog owners in the area where you might be able to form a group between you. Another option is using websites such as Borrow My Doggy for support with dog walking if needed.
Take good care of your pet
Just as with humans, prevention of illness is really valuable. So, saving money on healthcare also means doing what you can to prevent illness in your pet. This involves keeping your pet on a healthy diet to maintain an ideal weight, brushing their teeth to help prevent costly problems with tooth decay down the road and getting your pet vaccinated and protecting them from pests, such as fleas and ticks, that can carry disease.
In your home, do what you can to guard against injuries by looking around your living space with an eye for pet threats. Pet-proof your home by keeping potentially dangerous items out of paws reach, for example electrical cords, household chemicals, trash cans, medications and breakable décor.
When it comes to saving money on veterinary costs, you should be proactive about visiting the vet if something is wrong, as catching medical problems early will minimise overall treatment costs as well as boost your pet’s quality of life. If you suspect something is wrong with your pet, don’t ignore the signs or wait for an injury to get infected or strange symptoms to turn into an illness. Some veterinary colleges and veterinary charities offer veterinary care at reduced rates; so it’s worth keeping an ear on the ground for low- or no-cost services in your area. As a starting point, take a look on the RSCPA website for payment options and sources of financial help for veterinary care.
More than this, your vet will write the prescription for medications, however costs can vary for the same medication, so it’s worth asking your vet if they can write a prescription to use online or take it to a pharmacy where the price may be lower.