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Buying a pet? Make sure you can afford it

Around 50% of UK households own a pet with around 20 million pets owned across the country, according to research from RSPCA in 2015. Such figures show that we are most definitely a nation of pet lovers but are we truly aware of the cost of owning a pet? It seems not as new research from PDSA has found with 98% of pet owners underestimate the lifetime costs of owning their pet.

Their findings show that 12% of dog owners put the estimated lifetime cost of looking after their dog at £500 when the true cost is around £2000+ a year; that accumulates to around £21,000 to £33,000 a year for a dog which will typically live for 10-13 years.

The upfront cost of buying a pet can be manageable, or expensive, dependent on the type of pet and breed you opt for but it is the other costs which can be crippling for some, especially when many don’t plan for them.

If you buy a puppy or kitten, they will need to be vaccinated, chipped and potentially neutered in the first few months which will easily add up to over £100. You can adopt puppies/kittens from charities which will have already had all this done, a benefit for many first time pet owners.

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Other costs to take into account include annual booster injections, pet insurance, food, bedding, toys, grooming, flea and worm care. Plus, if you work long hours you might look into employing a dog walker and if you plan on going on holiday with no one to look after your pet, you’ll have to pay for boarding kennels or a cattery to take your four legged friend for the duration of your holiday.

Food, toys and grooming are essential for your pet but they are areas where you could potentially try to save little or alternatively they are the places where you could splurge on your pet and treat them to only the very best. The rise of organic pet food, interactive and tech based toys and expensive pet salons show that it is clear there is a market for pet owners who will spend a significant amount of money on their pets monthly.

An expensive part of pet ownership is caring for it if your pet falls ill or has an accident. Even with insurance, it soon becomes costly to look after a pet which is poorly. Vets bills are not cheap and procedures soon add up costing a significant amount to pet owners who may struggle to be able to meet the high costs.

Insurance premiums are based on a number of factors including the breed and age of the animal, the susceptibility to illness, any pre-existing conditions and the level of cover you would like. For comprehensive cover for your pet you will need to opt for the lifetime policies which are more expensive but they are designed to cover chronic and recurring illnesses whether pre-existing or later diagnosed.

So keeping in mind the essential, non-essential and potential costs of owning a pet, it is easy to see how the costs of being a pet owner soon add up and can become difficult to deal with for any pet owners who may have underestimated the costs involved. If you are thinking about buying a pet, make sure you are aware of the costs involved and try to plan for the extra money you will be spending each month.

Remember a pet is for life and is a responsibility for many years to come, if you need to discuss your affordability of owning a pet get in touch with a pet charity such as RSPCA to discuss your situation in further detail.

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