Pets make a huge impact on our lives, in many ways we can’t even put a price tag on it. They make great companions to snuggle with on the sofa or help us keep active on walks, they are innocent bundles of joy. However, becoming a pet parent for the first time can be both exciting and daunting. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment and be blinded by the cuteness of a dogs happiness, or cats purring.
One of the most important things to consider when thinking about getting a pet is how much it will cost. This isn’t necessary the cost to buy the pet but throughout their lifetime. It is estimated that the average cost of owning a cat or dog could be between £16,000 and £33,000. There is the saying, “a pet is for life, not just for Christmas”. When you are getting a pet you are making a huge commitment to care for and love this animal for their whole life.
- Purchase cost
- Preparing your home
- Ongoing everyday costs
- Healthcare and pet insurance
- How to manage costs
The first thing prospective pet parents will see and think about is the purchase price. When you are looking online at advert you will quickly notice that certain breeds of cats or dogs are a lot more expensive than others. Cats do tend to be cheaper than dogs, I recently saw a dog for sale £10,000 but you can usually expect to pay between £500-£1,000.
If you are interested in smaller pets such as a Hamster, Rat or Degu then I would recommend visiting your local Pets at Home store. Personally, I find it better to buy smaller animals form a pet store such as Pets at Home as you know they have been correctly looked after. You can buy a small pet such as a Hamster for as little as £10 and a Guinea Pig for around £25.
If you are open to it, you could always adopt a pet. There are loads of pets of all types and sizes in need of a home all the time. Generally it is free to adopt a pet, and occasionally the shelter may ask for a donation to aid their charitable activities. On one hand adoption can be a cheaper option, on the other you are giving a home and love to pet that is in need of both.
Preparing your Home
Once you have thought about how much you are going to spend to buy your pet, you now need to get everything ready for them. I am going to use preparing for a Hamster as an example, while cheap to buy the cost of properly setting up their cage can get relatively expensive. The minimum amount of space a Hamster should have is around 5,000cm square, while the ideal size is nearer to 10,000cm square. Considering a lot of cages I see for Hamsters will rage around the 3,000cm square range you will either need to build your own or consider a modular approach (connecting multiple cages). Cost of a suitable cage could range between £100-£300 including all the toys, bedding, exercise wheel, sand, etc.
When you scale that up to a cat or a dog it becomes a lot more expensive. You will need litter trays with cat sand, beds, food bowls, scratching posts, collars, harness, leads and much more. I must have spent around £500 in total preparing for my cat.
Another consideration you need to make is if you home is suitable for your pet. You could buy all the items that you pet will need, if your home still isn’t pet-proof then you will run into problems. For example, if you get a dog and you want to use your garden as a place for them to run around between walks, you need to make sure it is secure and that they will not be able to escape from it. You may need to pay for improvements to fencing in your garden or stair gates to segregate parts of the house. Also, make allowances for damage the pet may do, e.g. to skirting boards.
Ongoing Everyday Costs
Most dog or cat owners will pay on average around £80-100 per month on food and other general items. If you have a large dog, or your pet has special requirements, or is even just fussy the cost of food could increase significantly. You need to get the right food for your pet, which for my cat will cost £9 for 14 portions, the Hamster on the other hand is happy with a £2 bag of muesli mix from Wilko.
Another large cost is toys… need I say more!
We all get carried away with spoiling our pets, especially for their birthdays or Christmas. When you are going to the pet store to get their regular food, you always come out with a few toys or treats. Whether its a pack of meal worms or biscuits for a hamster, chew toys for a dog or Dreamies and catnip for a cat we are all guilty of buying extra. Seriously though, why is it that cats go mad for Dreamies?
Healthcare and Pet Insurance
This is where things can get both interesting and very, very expensive. If you have a pet or are thinking about getting one, seriously consider getting pet insurance. Both cats and dogs like to get into accidents, especially the energetic ones. The average cost of treating a cat that’s been injured in an accident can be in the region of £450. If they were involved in a car accident, this could double to £900 if not a lot more. If your dog was to tear a knee ligament this could end up with a vet bill of at least £1,200.
Pet insurance should definitely be considered, or you could end up with some massive bills that you may not be able to pay. Personally I have pet insurance for my cat with Petplan which costs me £16.21 per month, but I am happy to pay thing just in case I do need to take him to the vet.
I would also recommend subscribing to a care plan if your vet offers it. I use Vets4Pets Complete Care Plan which costs between £8 and £26 per month depending on your animal and size. With such plans you can spread out the cost of routine care such as vaccinations, annual checks, and even a discount on services such as neutering and dental procedures. Bellow is a summary of what is included in my cats plan with Vets4Pets.
How to Manage Costs
It can be really daunting when first presented with the reality of all these costs that having a pet comes with. All you want to do is give them cuddles and playtime. If we plan ahead, however, we can get on top of all these costs so that they don’t put a strain on your finances. First things first, amend your budget. Make sure you are including all your costs of having a pet into your budget so that you can plan them along with your wider finances.
Once you have a clear view of your pet costs in your budget we can start to be proactive. It might be worth considering creating a pet fund which can be used for anticipated costs or just as a fund for treats and toys. Additionally, take advantage of any care plans your local vet offers, if you take full advantage of them it can really be worth the monthly subscription. If you pet store has a loyalty scheme, consider joining it to earn cash back points or vouchers to spend in store.
We all want to do the best for our furry family members, a bit part of that is keeping on to of their financial impact on you.