The Real Cost of Living: Pets
17 Mar 2015 | COMMENTS: 0 | Author: Ryan Smith | The Real Cost of Living
Britain is a nation of pet lovers, with 46% of households owning at least one. Although many of us enjoy pampering our animals, their treats – as well as general care – can quickly add up, and with most dogs and cats having a lifespan of around 12 years you could find yourself spending a hefty sum on your animal friend.
Our pets are worth their weight in gold for all the love and companionship they provide us with, but it’s estimated that taking into account inflation, dogs cost their owners around £18,500 over their lifetime, with cats tipping the scales at £19,000 and rabbits coming in at around £9,000. Research shows that most pet owners have underestimated these costs, leaving a lot of animal-lovers watching the pennies.
Here at Local Financial Advice, we understand that for many people, owning a pet is an essential part of their lifestyle, but we want to ensure that you consider the financial impact that the upkeep of an animal can have on your day to day wellbeing.
With this in mind, here are a few easy ways to save money, whilst still giving the very best to your pet.
Instead of opting for an expensive pedigree, consider a mongrel. They might not be eligible for Crufts, but crossbreed dogs particularly have far less health problems than their thoroughbred counterparts – meaning they typically cost about 34% less to care for. But whatever breed you go for, skip the dealer and go to an animal shelter instead. As well as saving money, you’ll be giving a much-needed home to an animal who might not otherwise get one – and some shelters will even arrange for subsidised vaccinations and neutering, too.
Don’t skip the jabs
Talking of vaccinations, make sure your pet has them! The upfront cost is usually between £20 and £50, but treating the infections they protect against could cost you as much as £500. The same goes for neutering or spaying; not doing so makes your pet vulnerable to preventable, and costly infections – as well as the possibility that you’ll end up spending money caring for a full litter!
Food is by far the highest expense when it comes to owning an animal. Just cutting out buying expensive treats could save you £100 a year; but if you want to continue rewarding your pet for good behaviour (or just spoil them from time to time) you could always make your own treats, with many recipes available online. Not only are these cheaper than shop-bought alternatives, but they’re also likely to be far better for your pet.
When it comes to more day-to-day food expenses, consider making the switch to supermarket own-brand pet food, or bulk-buy when the branded products are on sale – and always weigh your pet’s portions to make sure you’re not over-feeding them. By cutting back on treats and being savvy when it comes to the amount and price of food you’re giving your pet daily, it’s estimated cat owners could save up to £330 per year – with the saving rising to as much as £500 for those with a Labrador-sized dog.
Buy good pet insurance
Pet insurance can seem like an unnecessary cost if your pet isn’t ill – however, it’s crucial to take out a policy while they’re young and healthy, as you’ll secure a far lower premium than you would for an older pet with pre-existing conditions (that might not be covered). As with any insurance products, there are a myriad of different options available to you, but a basic policy that would cover your pet getting injured in an accident can usually be picked up for as little as £3 a month. If you want something more comprehensive, consider raising your excess to lower the premium – or shop around. Smaller, local providers might not be listed on price comparison sites, but they can often be far better value that a big insurance company.
Don’t pay for pet-sitting
Whether it’s putting a dog into kennels while you go on holiday, feeding the cat when you go home for Christmas, or taking in a pet iguana for a fortnight, finding someone to look after your pet when you can’t can become expensive – with a decent kennel costing from £15 a night, depending on your location and the type of animal that needs looking after. Asking friends or family is an obvious solution to this problem, but if no one is on hand to help out, you could try a website such as Borrow My Doggy, which matches pet owners with people who want to look after them. There’s a small subscription fee to sign up, but you could still find yourself saving around £200 per year in kennel fees if you go away for 2 weeks or longer.
Owning a pet isn’t all about expense and commitment. The benefits that come with bringing an animal into your home range from improving your physical and mental health to helping you make new friends, and teaching children how to be more responsible. These are just a few of the reasons pets are so important to us as a nation – and they’re definitely not worth giving up to save a bit of money, but if you can cut costs whilst enjoying your animal companion, everyone wins.