How To Save Money On Pet Care As The Cost Of Living Rises | consumer affairs

OOwning a pet can be an expensive business. From food to veterinary care, there are a range of mandatory expenses, and with the cost of living soaring, many owners are worried about meeting their pet care costs.

According to a survey of 4,000 people for the RSPCA, 78% of pet owners think the cost of living crisis will have a negative impact on their pets, while 68% say they are concerned that the costs already increasing, and 19% said they were worried about how they could afford to feed their pets.

Consider the costs up front

If you’re considering getting a pet, it’s essential to first determine the financial implications. “Before taking on a pet, we urge potential owners to thoroughly research how they can support themselves, including looking at the costs involved,” says charity veterinarian Lynne James. PDSA.

“Costs, including food, preventative health care, accessories and insurance, can quickly add up. That’s without the expense of unexpected vet bills if your pet gets sick or is involved in an accident.

Of course, costs vary hugely depending on the type of animal and breed, but James says: “A large breed dog, for example, can cost £30,000 over its lifetime, and cat owners can spend up to at £24,000. These costs can be much higher, depending on many factors, including health, training, and grooming needs.

Find cheaper food

The RSPCA suggests finding a cheaper pet food that will still meet your pet’s needs, or perhaps mixing a cheaper pet food with the usual product you buy to make it last longer.

While for dogs and cats, large bags of dry food are usually more expensive upfront than wet food, the overall cost is lower. The most important thing, advises the charity, is that you should feed your pet a well-balanced diet that is appropriate for their species, age and any specific health conditions – but consult your vet before bringing major changes to your pet’s diet.

You can mix your usual brand of pet food with a cheaper product. Photography: Sally Anscombe/Getty Images

dog daycare

Some animals do better than others when you go out to work. While cats can generally be left on their own, dogs need more attention. “We would ideally suggest that dogs are only left alone for half a day’s work, so it’s a good idea to have someone come over and let them out or take them for a walk at some point in the day. day,” Rebecca Verne, says Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Repatriation and Welfare Manager. “Otherwise, all that alone time is quite a long time for them, and unfortunately, you might start creating separation anxiety issues.”

Dog standing on two legs and looking out the window looking or waiting for its owner.
Some animals do better than others when their owners go to work. Photography: Eva Blanco/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dog daycare can be expensive: Last year, Admiral Pet Insurance put the average cost at £3,456 per year.

The RSPCA suggests scrapping expensive pet sitting services in favor of help from friends and family, or starting a local community group to help neighbors look after pets – but urges owners to remember to gradually introduce their pets to new people and make sure everyone is comfortable before leaving them in charge.

If neighbors are not an option, the BorrowMyDoggy online service offers another possibility. The service connects dog owners with local dog lovers who will care for (well, borrow) their dog. No money changes hands between owners and borrowers – it’s all done for the love of dogs – but BorrowMyDoggy charges an annual fee of £44.99 for owners, which covers courier services, insurance and a 24-hour veterinary hotline. (It’s £12.99 for borrowers to sign up and offer their services.)

Invest in pet insurance

Unexpected vet bills can be stressful and wreak havoc on household finances. A checkup with a vet often costs between £40 and £60, but treating injuries or illnesses can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds. “We highly recommend insurance,” says Verne. “It’s not easy to have that kind of money aside for possible veterinary bills. Use cost comparison websites and get advice on what companies cover, what type of medical costs will be included, etc.

According to MoneySuperMarket.com, average premiums for a dog cost £24.94 per month for a 12-month policy, and cat cover costs £17.54 per month. (Numbers cover all races and ages and all policy types, and do not include those that cover pre-existing conditions.)

There are four main types of coverage available. Lifetime the policies will cover most veterinary bills related to injury or illness up to an annual limit, which resets at the end of the year. Accident insurance policies, as the name suggests, will only cover veterinary bills related to the treatment of injuries resulting from an accident. Maximum indemnity policies cover most veterinary bills related to injury or illness – within an agreed limit for each illness or condition. Once the limit is reached, veterinary bills to treat this condition will no longer be covered. Finally, time-limited policies cover most veterinary bills for injuries and illnesses, but there are limits to how much can be claimed for each condition, as well as how long you can claim for each condition. . When this period (usually 12 months) has passed, or once you have reached the limit amount, you will no longer be able to claim.

A cat
MoneySuperMarket.com says the average cat cover costs £17.54 per month. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

“Pet insurance isn’t one size fits all, and cost depends on factors like breed, age, and previous conditions, so it’s important to compare policies to find the right coverage at the best price” , said Dave Merrick, pet insurance expert at MoneySuperMarket, said.

“When comparing policies, check out the additional benefits that are included, for example, free video vet consultations, dental coverage, or pet travel insurance, to see what might add the most value for your pet. of company.”

He adds that you should always check the policy’s deductible – in other words, the amount you’ll have to pay for a vet bill when making a claim: “The higher the deductible, the more the cost of the policy is. low, so it’s worth considering how much you could afford to pay.”

Ask your veterinarian about payment plans

Some, but not all, vets offer a payment plan service that allows pet owners to split the cost of treatment.

Often you pay a small amount each week or month to cover necessary costs such as vaccinations, as well as other treatments.

Follow preventive care

“Preventive health care such as vaccinations and neutering can avoid future vet bills,” says PDSA’s James. “Although there is an upfront cost, preventative care will save money in the long run and is essential for keeping pets fit and healthy. Monitor your pet’s weight and contact your veterinarian if you have concerns can also help avoid costly bills resulting from weight-related health issues, such as arthritis and diabetes, which require lifelong medication.In addition to being healthier for your pet, don’t overfeed will also have a positive impact on your purchase invoice.

A PDSA veterinarian treats a cat.
The PDSA has 48 pet hospitals in the UK. Photography: PDSA/PA

Find out if you can get help with fees

“We understand that not every eventuality can be foreseen and that anyone’s situation can change without warning,” says James. “Rising fuel costs and household bills are putting pressure on homes across the UK. People who are struggling to afford veterinary care for their pet can seek help from PDSA.

There are 48 PDSA pet hospitals in the UK, and the charity supported more than 370,000 pets and their owners in 2021, James says.

“We expect demand for our services to increase as financial pressures tighten. We encourage anyone struggling to cover the cost of veterinary treatment to find out if they are eligible to access our services. »

To check if you qualify, visit the PDSA website.