Prices are rising, with everything from food to fuel costing us more than ever before. As the cost of living soars, having another mouth to feed, even one of the four-legged variety can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Read on to find out how to make affordable pet care possible.
Animal charities up and down the UK are reporting increasing numbers of pets being handed over as spiralling costs mean some pet owners are having to make difficult decisions. The RSPCA has reported a 24 percent increase in pets being left with them this year, while the Dogs Trust stated that the number of people contacting them about giving up their dog has risen to the highest levels since 2014.
Juggling finances and giving your four-legged friend the same level of care is not easy so here are our top ten tips for cost conscious pet owners:
- Food, food, food
Often top of your pooch’s priority list, food is one of the main monthly costs when it comes to pet ownership. Buying larger bags is almost always more cost effective so try and do this where you can. Tight budgets may also mean that you have to consider switching to a brand that is more within your budget. If you do decide to switch, make the transition gradually (over a week or so) to avoid upsetting your pet’s tum.
Remember to keep an eye out for loyalty cards and money off vouchers at your local pet store!
- Veterinary care
Sadly there is no NHS for our pets, and this means that the costs of vet care for your four-legged friend need to be budgeted for. So what do you do when you are worried that you can’t afford vet bills? Firstly and perhaps most importantly, don’t ignore problems in the hope that they will go away. Seeking expert veterinary advice and starting treatment sooner rather than later often helps minimise treatment costs in the long run.
If you have financial worries, talk to your vet and be honest about what you can afford. Often there will be a range of treatment options of differing costs and it is important that you work with your vet to find the best option for everyone. They may be able to direct you towards organisations that can help with vet bills.
Home treatments and DIY vet care are not the solution to affordable veterinary care. Worryingly, it has been reported that Google searches for ‘can I give my dog paracetamol’ increased from 5600 a month in Jan 2020 to 14,600 in Jan 2022. It’s always best to contact your vet for advice.
- Pet insurance
Taking out an insurance policy for your pet pal provides the best way of covering the costs of veterinary care and reducing the chance of unexpected bills. At the moment, it may seem counter intuitive to spend money on an insurance policy when your budget is tight, but it may well pay off in the long run. Peace of mind is priceless.
- Prevention is better (and usually cheaper) than cure
Make sure your four-legged friend is up to date with all their routine health care needs. Vaccinations are an important part of helping keep your pet healthy. There are vaccines available against many serious infectious diseases, like parvovirus in dogs, myxomatosis in bunnies and cat flu in our feline friends. As well as keeping your pet safe, vaccines are usually far cheaper than the cost of treating the disease. For example, an annual dog booster might be somewhere in the region of £50, but the costs of treating a pup that has parvovirus can soon tot up to hundreds, if not thousands of pounds.
- Teeth, tartar and tooth brushing
Staying on top of your pet’s dental care will reduce the chances that they will need costly dental work in the future. Regular tooth brushing with a pet-friendly toothpaste will help keep your pooch or kitty’s teeth pearly white and in tip-top condition. Try and brush at least every other day for maximum benefit!
- Pre-loved toys
You’re not just indulging your pet when you treat them to a new toy. Having something to keep body and mind active is important for their wellbeing. But of course you don’t always have to buy brand new. Charity shops can be a good source of second hand toys; as well as being kind to your wallet, pre-loved helps the environment too. Remember to make sure toys are safe with no damage, and it’s a good idea to disinfect them before giving them to your pet.
You may find that DIY toys are just as popular. How many cat owners have bought the latest cat toy for their feline, only to find their fluffball is just as happy with scrunched up paper or that cat staple – a cardboard box.
- Doggy day care costs
Personal dog walkers can be a life-saver when you are working long hours in the office. Knowing that your pooch is being cared for in your absence means you can focus on the job in hand. Costs soon mount up though. Doggy day care can be a cost effective option, especially for sociable dogs who love to play with their canine companions.
- Dog walking
Instead of paying a dog-walker, or using doggy day care, maybe you could share pet care with friends or neighbours. Help out your dog-owning friends by walking their pooches when they are at work, and they can return the favour. Or you could even set up a dog walking group. Organisations like Borrow My Doggy are also worth considering.
Some breeds are fairly low maintenance when it comes to coat care and need nothing more than an occasional brush to remove loose hair. Others though need a bit more TLC to keep their coat in tangle-free tip-top condition. Trips to the groomers can be essential for these higher maintenance breeds but why not take on some of the grooming tasks yourself to help extend the length of time between visits.
If your pet isn’t used to being groomed at home, take things slowly and use lots of rewards to make it a fun experience. You may even find that you both enjoy it and your time spent grooming reinforces your loving bond.
- Don’t feed your dog or cat more than they need
Did you know that vets estimate that at least 40 percent of dogs are overweight? Body condition scoring tools can help you decide if your pooch is a bit portly and you can then adjust their food intake accordingly. Cutting back if your pet is overweight will not only help reduce pet food costs, but also improve your pet’s health and wellbeing.
So that concludes out ten top tips for being a cost conscious pet owner. Why not have a read of How to be an eco-friendly pet owner next.