As I'm sure many of us are aware, there is currently a cost-of-living crisis in the UK. Inflation is at its highest rate in 40 years and prices of energy and food are soaring, leaving many families having to make difficult decisions to cut back on costs. Last year, the RSPCA deemed the cost-of-living crisis “an urgent threat to pet welfare” and said it was witnessing a spike in the number of abandoned cats and dogs. About 129 pets are being abandoned each day in England and Wales — up from 104 last year, the charity said. Citing data from their U.K.-wide survey, 'The Kindness Index', the RSPCA also noted that 78% of pet owners think that the cost-of-living crisis will impact their animals. Another animal welfare charity, the Dogs Trust, warned that a significant decline in adopters could trigger an animal housing crisis as the already struggling shelters will become full to capacity. Owen Sharp, Dogs Trust CEO, said “the UK is fast heading towards a situation in which, due to the cost of living crisis, we’ll have a surplus of dogs whose owners need to give them up, but a deficit of people who can afford to take on a new dog,”
Whilst costs continue to rise, we know what a worrying time this can be, especially for those of us who own pets. It is no secret that owning a cat or a dog can be very costly, and at a time where every penny counts, many of us find ourselves worrying about whether or not we can continue to care for our four-legged friends. Whilst for some people, surrendering their animal to a charity is the best or only option, we also wanted to share some tips that might be helpful in cutting the costs of cat or dog guardianship during these challenging times...
Try and feed your pet a healthy, balanced diet to keep them in the best health you can. Pet food can be incredibly expensive so why not explore whether there is a cheaper food that meets your pets needs? You could also mix your regular food with a cheaper brand to make it stretch further. Dry food goes much further than wet food, even though the upfront cost can be higher. If you cannot afford a good quality pet food, try your best to supplement it with vegetables, grains and proteins that are good for your pet such as blueberries, sweet potato, broccoli, carrots and eggs. You don't need to buy these foods specifically for your pet, but you could include some in their meals if you're already purchasing them for yourself.
Buy Medications Online
If your pet takes regular medication and you are worried you might not be able to afford it in the future, it is best to try and have an honest conversation with your vet as they may be able to offer alternatives. These may not be the best option that exists to treat your pet, but they will still help them to feel a lot better at a price that is affordable for you. It is also worth looking at accredited online pet pharmacies as sometimes you will find medication is cheaper this way. Your vet can write you a prescription for a small fee and you can order medication online which is usually much cheaper than buying direct from the vet.
Skip The Pet Sitter
We all know not to leave our pets at home alone all day, however professional pet sitters and dog walkers can be very pricey. Instead, ask a trusted friend or family member if they could check in on your pet throughout the day or take them for a short walk. Or why not start up a responsible community group where you all help each other out with pet care? Just remember to introduce your pets to new people gradually and ensure they are comfortable with their new friends before leaving them alone. It may also be worth asking your workplace whether your pet would be welcome to accompany you to work. Many office environments are becoming more and more pet friendly and having animals present can actually increase work productivity.
Insure Your Pet
If you can afford the monthly cost, insuring your pet is a great way to avoid large, unexpected bills. It can seem counterintuitive to add an additional cost to your monthly outgoings, but paying anywhere from £15 to £30 a month for basic cover could be enough to save you from thousands of pounds worth of bills in the future. Some pets will cost more to insure, including pets with pre-existing medical conditions as well as certain breeds such as pugs and french bulldogs. The typical price for a consultation alone is around £40 to £50 and is expected to rise, with some treatments such as an MRI costing in excess of £2,000. Some veterinary clinics will also offer their own payment plans for treatments or membership clubs that offer discounted prices for a small monthly fee. It is a good idea to shop around for the best cover that is affordable for you as there is a lot of choice out there!
We know that your pet is part of your family, and there are many pet parents already making huge sacrifices to keep their pets happy and healthy. If you’re struggling to care for your pet as prices increase, remember that it is okay to reach out and talk about it. Speak with your vet about possible financial support. Reach out to charities like the PDSA, Blue Cross, Cats Protection and Dog’s Trust who are providing help with vet bills for those who need it. There are also often lots of local, independent charities who will do their very best to help you. If you need help feeding your pet, there may be a pet food bank local to you. If you’re worrying about what the future might hold for your pets, just know that you don’t have to do it all alone.