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How to budget for the true cost of pet ownership

Category: News

April marks National Pet Month and a chance for the UK’s 16 million pet owners to celebrate the animals in their lives.

Pet ownership spiked during the coronavirus pandemic and currently, according to a recent BBC report, stands at two-thirds of UK households.

Owning a pet is a huge personal and financial commitment. This has been especially true during the last few years, with rising bills and a cost of living crisis affecting millions.

Keep reading to find out more about the true cost of pet ownership and how you can factor it into your plans.

Brits are 3 times more likely to insure their pets than themselves

A 2021 report from Lloyds Banking Group states that while 6% of those surveyed had taken out critical illness cover since March 2020, three times more people (18%) had opted for pet insurance.

While the survey took place during the pandemic, when pet ownership increased sharply, coronavirus also highlighted the speed with which illness can strike pet owners.

In fact, 37% of those surveyed had experienced a loss of income during the survey period, suggesting the need for income protection as well as critical illness cover.

Both insuring yourself and your pet can be relatively cheap so you don’t need to opt for one over the other. And protecting yourself means you’ll be able to keep looking after your pet even if your income stops for any reason.

According to Compare the Market, the average cost of pet insurance is £125 a year. The report goes on to confirm that:

  • The average cost of ensuring a dog is currently £146 a year (or £12.09 a month).
  • For a cat, insurance costs from £77 a year (or £6.36 a month on average).

Costs, though, can vary widely depending on factors like the type of cover you buy, your pet’s breed, and various other risk factors.

But even when vet bills or the cost of medicine is high, you’ll need to think about whether you can afford not to have insurance.

Vet bills and the cost of medicine are rising

The veterinary industry is worth £2 billion but practices might not always be sufficiently transparent about the prices they charge.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) recently launched a review after finding that 80% of veterinary practice websites held no pricing information.

While the British Veterinary Association confirmed that vets were “fundamentally motivated by animal welfare”, the CMA worries that pet owners could be overpaying.

Understanding the costs upfront could help you budget for pet care and avoid unnecessary financial shocks.

A vet appointment alone could cost more than £40, while an x-ray can exceed £300. The BBC reported back in September 2023 on the high vet bills paid by some Brits.

Stories included those of Dorothy the pug and Daisy the puppy. Dorthy’s owner spent around £12,200 over 10 months when a chronic intestinal disease led to the need for daily medication and a specialist diet. Daisy’s owner, meanwhile, could only afford to insure one of her three pets. Thankfully, it was insured pooch Daisy who needed treatment after eating a sultana-filled fruit cake.

An emergency fund and careful budgeting are key

The pet charity PDSA puts the cost of dog ownership somewhere between £5,200 and £15,700 depending on the size of the breed.

Importantly, though, this figure doesn’t include vet fees. As we have seen, these can mount up quickly, which is why insurance is a must. This is especially true for purebred animals who have a higher risk of developing certain health conditions.

You’ll need to factor these potential costs into your budgeting as you would with any costs and be sure to shop around for insurance.

Even with careful budgeting, though, the unexpected can strike. Keep at least three to six months of household expenditure aside in an easy access account so you can make use of quickly it in an emergency.

Get in touch

Our pets are members of the family and they need protecting as such. Careful budgeting means you won’t run out of money when you (and your furry friend) need it most. If you’d like help budgeting for your pets, or you want to discuss insuring yourself, speak to us now. Get in touch by emailing or calling 03452 100 100.

Please note

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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