Pet ownership is an exciting, joyful experience but it also involves the responsibility to keep our furry friends happy and healthy. That duty can be especially challenging during a cost of living crisis: while everyone is watching their wallets, pet owners also need to think about the costs associated with their animal companions, including keeping them fed, and dealing with potential trips to the vet.
If you’re worried about your pet’s welfare during the cost of living crisis, we can help. We’ve put together a guide for navigating the financial pitfalls that pet ownership brings, along with advice for saving money on things like food, toys, and veterinary care.
How does cost of living impact pet expenses?
The cost of living crisis is having a real impact on pet owners based on data conducted by PDSA.
Since 2022, around 22% of pet owners say they have been affected by the crisis, with 34% saying that they’ve chosen to cut personal costs in order to maintain their pet’s level of care.
More worrying is the increase in pet owners struggling to manage vet bills, with data from vets revealing that over 50% of clients are unable to afford unexpected medical bills, and over 40% unable to afford preventative care.
Those figures reflect changes in the price of food and supplies, along with spikes in the price of medical treatments - which have left many pet owners feeling the pinch.
Of course, it’s worrying to feel that we can’t look after our pets properly, but there are ways to mitigate the impact of rising prices. Let’s look at some practical strategies that owners can use to balance their pet care budgets.
Pet care tips for your cost of living challenges
Shop in bulk for savings
Larger bags of pet food typically cost less per-kilo than smaller bags. You can buy pet food in bulk from wholesalers like Makro and Costco in the UK, or even online retailers like Amazon. Just make sure your pet likes the food you’re buying, before you buy lots of it! If it’s an unfamiliar brand, why not email the producers for a sample before you take the plunge?
No matter how good your pet looks, grooming costs quickly add up, but don’t worry: you can pamper your pet for less at home. It’s quick, easy, and fairly cheap, to learn basic pet grooming skills, like nail trimming, hair cutting, and ear cleaning - all of which you can do for your pet in the comfort of your home.
Find cheaper, healthier food
You don’t need to buy premium pet food to give your pet a healthy, nutritious diet. Most pets can get the nutrients they need from store brand pet food, and likely won’t be able to tell the difference between that and more expensive alternatives. If your pet has specific dietary requirements, take some time to research what they'll need to stay healthy - and then select the food that makes the most financial sense.
Community cost sharing
It’s likely that your friends, family, and neighbours are facing the same cost of living pet care challenges that you are - so why not explore ways to share the burden with them? Community cost sharing is a relatively new trend in pet care but could take a number of forms, including:
Splitting the cost of bulk pet food purchases, or buying multiple items in groups to trigger discounts.
Walking other peoples’ dogs as a favour when they’re at work or on holiday, or dropping in to pet-sit, or to feed cats and change litter trays.
Sharing old pet toys or unused (and unopened!) food with pet owners in need or creating pet food banks that owners can visit to get food for free.
Creating online messaging groups or social media groups to offer information about pet care, the latest food discounts, and other useful cost of living tips.
Community cost sharing isn’t just about saving money - you’ll also help build stronger bonds between people in the same boat, making everyone more resilient in the face of cost of living challenges.
Be proactive with pet insurance
Pets are adventurous, accident prone and - cost of living crisis or not - are bound to get into a scrape sooner or later. Fortunately, you can proactively take the financial sting out of any unexpected visits to the vet by getting pet insurance.
There are plenty of pet insurance policies on the market, to suit animals of every shape, size, and breed. Insurance can be a cheaper alternative than paying for medications or treatments out of pocket - and offers peace of mind that your pets will be able to get the care they need, when they need it.
Affordable pet care for everyone
Every pet deserves a safe, comfortable home, and no pet owner should have to worry about providing that for them. With a little extra effort and forward-planning, and by being prepared to reach out to fellow animal lovers, pet owners can take on their cost of living challenges without having to compromise on the welfare of their furry best friends.