Labrador puppy

How to bring down the cost of pet care

Our pets bring us so much joy but the cost of pet care can be expensive. There are plenty of ways to save though

For many of us, our pet is one of the most important things in our lives. 

They can help with our mental health and bring us all sorts of joy. But they can also be expensive – having a dog could end up costing us £30,000 over its lifetime! No wonder 1 in 10 UK dog owners are now in debt.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues to put the squeeze on our wallets, there are ways to cut the cost of pet care. 

The best place to start is with our pet’s general health. A healthy animal is less likely to need a costly trip to the vets. 

Feeding well (not over-feeding or giving human treats), providing plenty of clean water, and the right amount of exercise and stimulation are all important. Having an overweight pet is very likely to get expensive when health problems start setting in.

With dogs, brush their teeth too to keep them in good shape.

Food for thought

As for what to feed them, it’s OK not to buy the most expensive brand of food. The Blue Cross animal charity says for dogs, foods labelled ‘complete’ will provide everything our pet needs. Foods don’t have to be organic or high-end. And for cats, as long as it’s cat-specific and satisfying our pet’s need for meat then it’s going to be fine.

Buying food in bulk, if we can, is also a great way of bringing down the cost of pet care. But be careful the food isn’t going to spoil or lose flavour before it’s used.

Just like food, we don’t have to fork out loads for expensive pet treats. It’s possible to make our own as long as we do a bit of homework first.

For dogs, some liver baked for an hour then chopped up makes a great treat. Leftover meats, yoghurt, carrots and even blueberries are all good for dogs and in small quantities won’t make them fat. We should be careful with other human foods though. Grapes, onion, raisins, chocolate, corn, milk and salt can all be harmful.

Better safe than sorry

Insurance is another area where we can save a bit of cash. We should shop around for the best price while making sure we read the small print about what’s included. Some insurers give discounts if we have more than one pet.

It might be tempting to ditch insurance if times are tough, but vet fees can end up costing even more. Of course, this depends on many factors like location, type of animal, breed, age, etc. Just like with broadband, it’s best to look at comparison insurance sites to see where we can get the best deals.

For medication, it’s important that a vet prescribes it. But we don’t have to get the medicine from them – we can buy it online if that’s cheaper.

Help in a crisis

If we’re on means-tested benefits like UC there may be help with neutering or other vet costs. Blue Cross may be able to treat a sick or injured pet for free if we qualify and live close to one of their clinics.

Cats Protection have some funds set aside for neutering.

And if we’re in crisis and are struggling to afford even the basics, a pet foodbank may be able to help. There are lots of them across the country, run by a variety of organisations.

The easiest way to find one near us is to do a Google search, or ask in stores like Pets At Home. Charities like RSPCA, SSPCA and Blue Cross may also have details.

Toys and equipment don’t have to be new – second-hand and borrowed are fine. And what dog doesn’t love playing with an old slipper? Just as much fun as an expensive new toy.

The good news is that our furry friends love us no matter how much cash we have. And they’re very unlikely to notice we’re cutting costs!

Updated by Madeleine Caravaggio

Image: Ellen de Ruiter / Pexels

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