8 simple ways to save money on pet care as the cost of living rises
Having a pet to love and care for is incredibly rewarding, but the cost of your animal companion can also be expensive – especially with energy, fuel and food prices continuing to soar. As a nation of animal lovers, pet owners up and down the UK are feeling the pinch.
Are you wondering how to give your pet the best without breaking the bank? From getting crafty to shopping around, there are lots of ways you can save money on pet care. Keep reading for everything you need to know…
1. Keep them healthy with routine maintenance
It sounds simple but taking good care of your pet could save valuable money on expensive vet fees in the future. The most common health problems we see as vets are gum disease, ear infections, obesity and overgrown nails. Many of these are issues are preventable simply by getting into a habit of caring for your pet’s teeth, ears and claws and managing their weight.
Here are some very simple ways to keep your pet in good health at home:
- Regularly brushing their teeth and fur and trimming their nails to keep them in tip-top shape.
- Making sure they get plenty of exercise – this will keep you both fit and healthy and will save you money on gym membership too!
- Ensuring they are eating a well-balanced diet and have constant access to fresh, clean drinking water.
- Keeping them in a routine to minimise stress and anxiety.
- Pet-proofing your home by keeping potentially dangerous items out of paws reach, for example electrical cords, household chemicals, bins, medications and breakable décor.
2. Prioritise vet visits and preventative healthcare
Just as with humans, prevention is always better than cure in our pets – not just to save money but also to get a better outcome. While buying preventative treatments e.g. parasite protection and vaccinations might seem like an unnecessary expense at the time, it can save you money over the course of your pet’s lifetime as well as giving you the peace of mind knowing you’re looking after your pet’s wellbeing.
Preventative healthcare is something that we’re very passionate about, which is why we designed our 365 Care Plan for cats and dogs. This enables you to spread the cost of your pet’s preventive healthcare across the year with one affordable monthly direct debit. Paying off small amounts every month might be easier to manage than a large upfront payment.
It’s also very important be proactive about visiting the vet if something is wrong, as catching medical problems early will minimise overall treatment costs as well as boost your pet’s quality of life. If you suspect something is wrong with your pet, don’t ignore the signs or wait for an injury to get infected or strange symptoms to turn into an illness. This is because certain conditions can progress quickly and get expensive if not treated quickly, so early intervention is best to keep your pet happy and your bills as low as possible.
3. Shop second hand
Every pet parent loves to spoil their furry friends, but you don’t always have to buy brand new. According to research conducted by the PDSA, the average dog could cost £30,800 over its lifetime, so shopping second hand is a great way to save some extra money. Your pet won’t even notice a difference, but make sure they’re washed before you use them.
Whether it’s toys or sleeping supplies, purchasing pre-loved goods will help the environment and save you cash. You can buy many second-hand items for your dogs, but useful suggestions include crates, beds, toys and collars. Look around on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or even your local charity shop. Try to find high-quality second-hand items, as these will last much longer and you won’t have to worry about them breaking and spending more money on a replacement.
Be mindful of re-using children’s toys as some items like teddy bears may contain certain parts which can be dangerous to pets e.g. buttons and beads.
4. Make your own healthy dog treats
The benefits of homemade dog treats are huge. As well as reducing the cost of your weekly shop, homemade dog treats don’t contain the same amount of preservatives, fats and chemicals that store-bought treats can contain. Plus, there’s the added satisfaction that you made your pup something tasty yourself.
You can often make dog treats with ingredients you already have in the kitchen, giving you a fun baking project while saving you money. If you regularly cook and have lots of leftovers, make up batches of dog treats from your scraps and freeze them for your dog. Make sure you use things like rice and chicken and leave out anything that could be harmful to your pooch.
5. Shake up your care routine
Arranging for someone to look after your pet can be tough, especially when every penny counts. While there are plenty of pet hotels and pet sitting services for your companions if you work full time, want to go away, or travel, they can be quite expensive – with rates ranging from £10 for each visit up to £25. Asking a neighbour, friend or family member to help should be your first go-to option, if possible. Alternatively, could you change your working hours, work from home more or try to visit your dog in an extended lunch break? Even if it’s a change to only one or two days a week, every little saving can help.
Some animals can cope better than others when you go out to work. While cats can usually be left to their own devices, dogs need more attention. If you’re thinking of cutting back on your professional pet sitter then remember that they’re providing your dog with the company and mental stimulation that they need. It’s important that dogs are not left alone for a whole day at a time as it can lead to anxiety and stress.
6. Teach yourself to groom
Grooming your pet regularly is vital to ensure they stay clean, healthy and comfortable. However, for long-haired breeds or breeds that require regular grooming, this can be a huge cost for owners to keep up with. If you’re looking for a smart way to save money, why not try grooming your pet yourself at home? Kitting yourself out with the recommended brushes, clippers and shampoos will save you a lot of money over time and it’s a great bonding experience for you and your pet – even if you can 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. It’s best to pick an area to groom with a surface where your dog can’t slip and where they can take themselves off if they’ve had enough.
7. Do your homework on pet insurance policies
Unexpected vet bills can be a source of stress and wreak havoc on household finances. A check-up with a vet can cost between £40 and £60 but treatment for injuries or illnesses can run to hundreds or even thousands of pounds. Having pet insurance involves you paying a monthly fee in exchange for a policy that covers your pet for a variety of illnesses, procedures or treatments. This investment can really pay off if your pet were to suddenly fall ill and require treatment.
But not all policies are the same, so use cost comparison websites and get advice about what companies cover, the kind of medical costs that will be included (and for how long) and make sure that you read the small print. When you’re comparing policies, check the extra benefits that are included, for instance, free video vet consultations, dental cover or pet travel insurance, to see what could add the most value for your pet.
8. Shop around for pet food
Paying for your pet’s food can be costly, but you may be able to find cheaper ways to still meet your pet’s dietary needs. Tips to try include:
- Looking for discounts and offers in shops and online – even small discounts can quickly add up over the months,
- Buying in bulk – it’s common for larger bags of pet food to be more cost-effective compared to smaller bags, resulting in more money saved over time.
- Mix a cheaper diet with your usual one to make the more expensive food last longer.
- Switching to cheaper food – some brands of pet food are identical, but you may be paying extra for the ‘brand name’.
It’s important that you feed your animal a well-balanced diet that suits their species, age and any specific health problems, so check with your vet before making big changes to your pet’s diet. If you’re switching to another brand of pet food, make sure that you introduce it to your pet’s diet slowly. Switching to a new food straight away may disagree with them and cause a stomach upset.