Research reveals that Brits spend a lifetime average of £69,420 owning and caring for their various pets. Unsurprisingly, we spend most on our beloved dogs (around £20,900 over the pooch's lifetime), and cats (£16,800 on kitties) but even a hamster can set us back £620 over its invariably short lifespan.
Nick Swan, of VoucherCodesPro.co.uk, who carried out the research, says: "I do, however, think that Britons should re-consider their pet spend. Almost £70k in a lifetime is a lot of money to spend. I know Britons want to treat their pets, but there are cheaper ways to do this."
And we can reveal just how this is achieved.
Adopt, don’t shop
If you buy a pedigree dog or cat from a reputable breeder, expect to pay hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds. Even the designer crossbreeds, such as labradoodles, cockapoos, cavachons, bengals and tonkinese come with a designer price tag upwards of £700. Animal rescue centres are full of lovely dogs and cats (and rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and so forth) looking for their fur-ever homes, some of which are pedigrees. Adoption fees for rescue pets are a fraction of breeder costs, and your pet will have been vet-checked, microchipped, neutered and vaccinated.
Choose a mutt or moggie
There’s a lot to recommend Heinz 57 pets. You’ll get a completely original-looking dog or cat, and with the hybrid vigour of crossbreeding, it will be less prone to genetic diseases and health problems. Even the pet insurance companies recognise this, as it’s cheaper to insure mixed-breed than pedigree. So a mutt or moggie will save you money in vet fees and insurance over its lifetime.
Buy second hand equipment
Rescue centres will often have a stockpile of donated beds, bowls, leads, collars and toys to buy cheaply and take away with your newly-adopted family member. Charity shops often have bowls, and they’re a great source of old towels for muddy paws and soft toys for shredding (rather than your slippers). Keep an eye on Freecycle, Ebay and Gumtree for small animal cages, hutches and housing, or even make your own.
Shop around for the cheapest pet insurance
Some people prefer to put money aside for pet medical bills, but that may not be enough if your pet needs complex surgery or causes an accident that results in third-party liability. There are lots of considerations when you choose insurance, so make sure you shop around and use comparison websites to get the right one for you. Insuring your pet while it’s young, and neutering/spaying can reduce your premiums.
Keep your pet in tip-top condition
Taking the time to groom, exercise and play with your pet keeps them happy and healthy. Dog-training classes are a good investment to make sure you have a well-socialised, obedient pup. Make sure you keep up with the regular vaccinations and flea/worm treatments offered by your vet to avoid illnesses - some vets offer monthly plans for these preventatives which are cheaper than buying the treatments separately, and they often throw in a free regular health check too.
Save on food
Some branded pet foods are eye-wateringly expensive, so it pays to look for online or bulk deals (if you’ve got the storage space) and supermarket own brands, which are just as nutritious, but cheaper. Sign up for pet shop loyalty points and you may receive offers and money-off coupons. Look for dry food designed for working dogs – it’s VAT-free and excellent quality, after all farmers, the police and gamekeepers don’t feed their dogs rubbish.
Avoid kennel fees
Kennels and catteries are expensive when you go on holiday. Your neighbours will probably be happy to pop in and feed the cat. Why not have a reciprocal dog-boarding arrangement with other dog-owning friends? Borrow my doggy puts owners in touch with people who love dogs but may not want their own. No money changes hands.
Pets that just keep on giving
We can’t put a price on the love and companionship our pets give us, but they bring some surprising financial and health benefits too. You may not need to shell out for a gym membership - a dog is the ideal personal trainer to make you get outside in the fresh air for a daily walk. Chickens are delightful, popular pets, and provided you haven’t spent nearly £400 on a designer hen house (keep an eye on Freecycle or build your own), they’ll obligingly provide you with beautiful, fresh organic eggs at a fraction of supermarket cost. And if you have a cat, you probably won’t have mice.
After all, as Nick concludes: "Having a pet is a great privilege and really does make a difference to your life, in my opinion. I’ve got a cat called Carragher and he is like another member of the family!"