How to save money on pet care as the cost of living rises
- Credit: Woodgreen Pets Charity
With the cost of living now around seven per cent higher than it was last year, many of us are looking for ways to keep outgoings to a minimum, including pet care costs.
The good news is there are ways you can save money while keeping your pets happy and healthy.
Chris Bennett, community support manager at Woodgreen Pets Charity, shares some useful tips on how to provide the best pet care within your budget.
Q: How much does it cost to own a pet?
A: It varies depending on the species, breed and individual needs. To cover the essentials, allow a monthly budget of around £100 for a dog, £80 for a cat and £80 for two small pets, such as rabbits, mice or guinea pigs.
It’s important to consider whether you can afford the long-term outgoings of looking after an animal, as well as the initial cost of buying the pet and supplies.
Expenses can increase for older pets, animals with health needs, and larger breeds. Certain breeds, such as French bulldogs, may also be more expensive to insure as they are prone to more medical issues.
Q: Can I save money with preventative pet healthcare?
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A: Yes. Preventing health problems in the first place is always worthwhile. The cost of microchipping, neutering, vaccinating and flea and worming treatments will be less expensive compared to what you would pay for vet bills if something went wrong.
Q: Do I really need pet insurance?
A: We always recommend insurance as it can save you having to pay large vet bills if your pet requires medical assistance. Use price comparison sites to find the best policy at a good price. Remember that ongoing health problems can be expensive, and the best pet insurance covers pre-existing conditions for life.
Another way to save money is to ask your insurer to reduce the maximum level of cover to lower your monthly payments. A policy that provides cover for up to £2,000 should be enough for basic procedures.
Q: How can I save money on vet bills?
A: Addressing medical issues at the first sign of sickness or injury is often cheaper in the long run, so it’s best to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Waiting to see if things 'get better' can make treatment far more expensive. If your pet needs medication or a prescription diet, it could be a cheaper option to buy it online rather than through your vet if they can write a prescription for you.
You may also qualify for discounted veterinary treatment through the RSPCA or PDSA – check with your local clinics to find out if you are eligible.
Q: How much does pet food cost?
A: At Woodgreen, we recommend getting the best quality pet food your budget allows. However, don’t feel like you have to buy the very best products unless your pet requires a specific brand for medical reasons.
Complete dry food should be enough to meet a dog’s nutritional needs. Buying in bulk can also work out cheaper. Take care to weigh out the right amount of food for your pet’s weight to avoid over-feeding them and buying more than they need.
Dry kibble, small pieces of cheese or carrots can be used for treats and training aids for dogs. If you need support with pet food costs, get in touch with Woodgreen or your local foodbank.
Q: Where can I buy affordable pet products?
A: There are plenty of great pet products available second-hand – take a look on Facebook Marketplace or in charity shops for pet beds, litter trays, crates and toys. You can even make some toys yourself with carboard boxes and other household items such as old duvets for dog beds.
Browse the Woodgreen website or our YouTube channel for ways you can get creative with homemade enrichment toys.
Q: Are there any other low-cost services available to pet owners?
A: You can chat to one of Woodgreen’s specialists for free if you need help with your pet’s behaviour. We also offer a variety of free online pet advice and events, including health and wellbeing clinics, as well as affordable puppy and dog training classes at our Cambridgeshire centre.
If you can’t afford a pet long-term, you may want to consider fostering. At Woodgreen, we are always on the look-out for volunteers to join our team – and all expenses are covered.
To find out more about fostering a pet, or for trusted advice on pet care, visit woodgreen.org.uk.