How to save money on pet care
The current economic climate has not been kind to households as they struggle with low wages, high inflation and public cuts. Put owning a pet, another mouth to feed, into the mix and the strain is even more apparent.
Britain has long been a nation of animal lovers, with 50% of households owning a pet or two. Unfortunately, pet care can be expensive – with the high costs of vet bills, food and bedding soon adding up to a small fortune.
Unfortunately for some UK families, the financial struggle of feeding themselves as well as their pets can prove to be too expensive, often resulting in them having to sadly give up their beloved animal.
Andy Robbins from the RSPCA says: “Owning a pet is not a cheap option, and it can be difficult when people suddenly find their circumstances have changed, or are faced with an unexpected bill.
“We would urge anyone thinking of getting a pet to consider the long term commitment involved in having an animal, and would advise people to take out pet insurance to guard against large veterinary bills.”
Payday lenders have been targeting, for some time, pet owners who are desperately seeking a way to pay for an unexpected vet bill.
However, they not only charge extraordinarily high interest rates, most people end up in more debt and things can soon spiral out of control.
Follow these tips to save money on pet care:
• Bulk up – Buying pet food in bulk or value packs is a good way to cut down on costs. Supermarkets often run special deals on the more expensive brands so make use of those. But as cat owners already know – buying cheaper or a different brand might not work out as cheaply if your cat refuses to eat it. Cats are notoriously fussy eaters, so make sure the feline is on board with your purchasing choices.
• Get insurance – It is no secret that vet bills are very high, so there is no excuse for being caught without insurance for your furry friend. Pet insurance covers you against some of the costs of emergency trips to the vet, as well as offering a payout if your pet needs ongoing treatment.
Many policies also include legal expenses if your pet causes injury to a third party, the cost of advertising if you lose your pet and the cost of a reward for its return. It’s an added bill but it is a false economy to think you can own a pet without insurance.
• … but make sure you shop around first – Premiums are based on the type of pet you have, its age, where you live and other factors that will determine how likely it is to get lost or fall ill. But there can be a massive difference in how much you are charged so you need to look around to find the best deal.
Like other insurance, taking on a bigger excess will mean you pay less every month. Use a comparison site to look around. And like anything else – read the small print and know exactly what you are covered for. If your policy only covers ailments up to a year, and your pet needs medication for the rest of its life, you could be picking up the tab for quite some time.
• Choose a mongrel – If you’ve only started to consider getting yourself a pet, you might want to think about getting a mongrel. They will cost next to nothing, cost less to care for and insure and are just as adorable. Note that due to the breeding process of pedigrees, there is a link to these expensive animals being more prone to ill health and hereditary health issues.
• Have your pet spayed/neutered – To make sure you don’t unexpectedly have a half a dozen mouths to feed all of a sudden, you need to get your pet spayed or neutered. If you are struggling financially and want to apply for a financial subsidy towards the cost of the operation there are a few organisations that help families cover the cost. Ask your vet for an organsiation/charity that works in your area.
• Look online – Flea medication and worming tablets are not cheap, but there are an increasing number of reputable online retailers who provide discounts on these necessary medications. Try chemistdirect.co.uk for savings.
• Giving to charity – Charity shops are a great way to bag some serious pet care bargains. You won’t have to look long or hard to find bowls, dog leads, bedding and toys for your pet. Spending in the charity shop is an all-round win-win. Alternatively, use things at home that you no longer need like discoloured and ragged towels.
• Jabs and visits to the vet – Make sure you keep up to date with all your pets necessary vaccinations. This will be a hit on your wallet every year, but in the long run will probably save you money and keep your pet happy and healthy.
Also, you wouldn’t rush to the GP if you had a minor cold, so the same applies for your animal. Minor sniffles don’t require you to rush to the vets demanding a check-up, it’s a waste of time and money.
And remember…dogs are not covered for public liability without insurance. So if your dog causes an accident and the person sues – you’ll be the one picking up the cost of that legal issue. Check with your insurance as to what is covered…
Cats, however, are considered ‘free spirits’ and should they go on the rampage, as they often do, you’re not legally responsible for their actions..