With families all over the country feeling the pressure of the cost of living crisis, many households are struggling to afford the care their pets need. Brits love their furry friends, with as many as 17 million households in the UK currently owning a pet.
But with the average cost of owning a dog at a huge £30,800 over the course of its lifetime, caring for man’s best friend comes at a price. Unsurprisingly, some people have been forced to give up their pets due to the rising cost of living – here are some of the abandoned North Wales pets looking for loving homes.
Often, our furry friends are far more than just pets, they are part of the family, so experts have come up with suggestions of how care for pets on a budget. Experts at MoneyTransfers.com have pulled together a list of top tips to help pet owners manage costs.
Here’s 10 ways to reduce your pet care spending when money is tight:
1. Look out for pet food bargains
Pet food bills are one of the largest monthly outgoings for pet owners but it is important to remember that what we feed them determines how they behave, as well as their overall health. For this reason, it’s important that they are still being properly nourished, without owners spending more on premium pet food than their own meals.
Always check that you’re not paying for ‘the brand’ because there are always cheaper alternatives available. The most well-known pet food brands will often add more onto their price tag due to being marketed as a ‘premium brand’.
If this isn’t within your budget, it’s a savvy idea to look at the ingredients on the back of pet food and find cheaper alternatives with equivalent nutritional value. For those who have access to the internet, shopping online is often cheaper as opposed to physical shops – and remember to always buy in bulk if the food is discounted.
On top of this, dog clubs typically offer loyalty points meaning you can get money off any future purchases too, so keep an eye out for this. It’s also worth noting that there are also a number of pet food banks available across the country, a quick internet search will bring up those available in your local area.
2. Learn how to groom your pet at home
Keeping your pet clean is key to their wellbeing. However, for long-haired breeds or breeds that require regular grooming, this can be a huge cost for owners to keep up with the average cost of grooming a dog in the UK being £43. For this reason, kitting yourself out with the recommended brushes, clippers and shampoos will save you a lot of money overtime.
And, it’s a great bonding experience for you and your pet – even if you do get a little bit wet in the process. Clipping their nails, cleaning gently around their eyes and trimming their coats to remove any dead hair, dandruff and dirt are the very basics of grooming at home, but it’s important to do this in a way that makes them feel comfortable without causing any stress.
If you’re in any doubt about grooming your pet at home, speak to your local groomer or vet and ask for their advice, as well as what to be careful of for your particular breed.
3. Trade for pet-sitting duties
Dog sitting rates in the UK can vary from £30 to £60 per hour per dog, and this can quickly increase the longer you have to leave your dog. Try to be tactical when it comes to your pet care to avoid spending ridiculous amounts on pet-sitters.
For example, forming a pet friendly neighbourhood club is one option to try out, where you and your neighbours (with pets) can rotate dog walks or have a setup where one of you tops up the cat food in your area if someone is away. Another option is to lean on the people who love your pet. For example, ask a friend or family member to look after them when you’re away – it’s a win-win scenario for anyone involved, for they get to spend quality time with your pet and you spend less money on pet care.
4. Buy pet treatment products over the counter
Monthly flea and worm treatments will keep your pet free from parasites that can cause serious health risks. For anything health related, it’s always worth getting professional advice from your vet about the most effective products, as the more protection you have, the less likely you’ll need an emergency trip to the vet.
While the best flea and worm treatment options will be prescribed by your vet, there are safe and cheaper alternatives available in your local pet store that do not require a prescription. Keeping on top of this regularly will ensure your pet is healthy and reduce the number of trips needed to the vets.
5. Make DIY pet toys/items or buy second hand
While shop bought toys are fun and exciting, they can also get very pricey (especially if your pet eats through them regularly), so making the most out of the items you already have at home is a good money saving tip. The first step is to remove any lingering pet-parent guilt because your pet does not always need the best on the market.
For example, repurposing an old duvet into bedding will save money on otherwise very costly items that rarely stand the test of time. As long as there’s enough padding and support, your pet won’t lose any sleep over it.
If you’re not feeling quite so creative at home, then shopping second hand for toys or sleeping supplies is another good option. Sourcing your pet a new toy (in their mind) from Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace, or even your local charity shop, will keep them just as entertained as one bought from a pet store (for double the price).
Not only will this save you money, but it is also a more environmentally friendly option to try out.
6. Try to budget properly
Research reveals that 70% of pet owners are not actually aware of what they spend each year on their furry friends. When funds are tight, it’s important to be aware of your finances and spending, so there aren’t too many surprises further down the line.
Pets can be unpredictable creatures and not every expense can be planned for, but with money set aside just in case, it will help to alleviate some of the initial panic. Although we love to spoil our pets, having a clear budget in mind will also stop us from overspending on items that aren’t essential (such as that tenth squeaky toy), and instead, cover those unexpected health costs.
7. Do your homework on pet insurance policies
It’s a good idea to look carefully for the best deal in terms of pet insurance and read the fine print before committing to any policy. The right insurance policy can save you money on fees like yearly vaccinations, vet visits and even major surgeries or any other unexpected procedures.
If you already have an insurance policy for your pet then make sure you’re aware of what your insurance policy covers and make the most of everything you have on offer.
8. Speak to your boss about work arrangements
Since the pandemic, a lot of us have had more flexibility with work than ever before and many experienced the joys of working from home. However, if you now work permanently from the office again and you’re struggling to cover pet care, try having a conversation with your boss about more flexible working arrangements.
For example, working from home one day a week or extending your lunch break so you can walk your dog. More employers are open to the idea of dog-friendly offices too, which has huge benefits not only for pet owners (who no longer have to worry about pet care) but also for other office workers, boosting their wellbeing and reducing stress levels with the welcome distraction of petting an animal.
9. Stay local with your walks
For walks, it’s often tempting to hop in the car and drive out somewhere but doing this regularly will soon eat away at your petrol. With petrol prices on the rise, if possible, plan out some more local routes that do not require a car. Plus – your four legged friend will be more grateful for the extra sniffing time outdoors, versus a car ride.
10. Don’t abandon your pet’s basic needs
We all know how busy life gets but it goes without saying that you are all your pet has, so try to make the time for them and give them the care they deserve. Just like humans, it’s important that your pet has a well-balanced diet to stay fit and healthy, as well as access to clean drinking water at all times – especially in hot weather periods.
The absolute basics of taking good care of your pet involve regularly cleaning their teeth, making sure they are properly nourished with a healthy diet, daily walks and attending annual vet visits. It sounds simple but doing all of these basic steps will help to lower the number of costly vet bills in the long-run, and leave you with a very happy, content pet, which is the end goal for every owner.