Many think of our little furry, scaly or feathery bundles of joy as being the key to happiness, and of course in many respects they can be. However, in reality it’s not always quite so simple. Spoiler alert: they can be quite expensive.
It is well known that UK is a nation of pet lovers, with a study by Voucherbox recently finding that a whopping 51% of UK households own a pet, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, that 25% of those households own a dog, and 24% are cat lovers. The more shocking statistic, though, is the amount that they cost us: A dog will cost on average £15,000 over its lifetime, a cat £10,000, and even the most innocent goldfish or budgie will cost £877 and £1,100 respectively. Ouch.
Despite the cost, it’s easy to see why we love our furry friends so much. Dr Sandra McCune, an expert in human-animal interaction, says “Animals [can] create connections that transcend racial, cultural, physical and socioeconomic differences”. Owning a pet rewards you with loving companionship and near-constant entertainment. They can also connect you to other pet owners, which especially applies to dogs, as their need for walks gets you out and about in your community.
That brings us to our first money-saving tip: The active lifestyle encouraged by owning a dog is great for us humans (exercise holds endless benefits for our brain health, you know), but is also key to maintaining the health of your pet, and this applies to all kinds of animals. Health costs are perhaps the largest unexpected cost you could encounter as a new pet owner, and the best way to avoid racking up huge vet bills is by making sure your pet is healthy and is kept active: even the laziest of cats should be encouraged to play every now and again!
A really important factor to weigh up if you are considering getting a pet on a budget is the amount of travelling you do. The desire to ensure your pet is looked after as best as possible can tempt us to spend huge amounts on kennels or other kinds of care. To avoid these costs you could ask your neighbours if they would be willing to help out, but, if you travel a lot, it may make more sense to consider a lower-maintenance pet, which would make things kinder for both your pet and your bank balance.
Food is another big expense, but can be easily avoided. Many brands of pet food charge more for a product that has little difference to cheaper alternatives. Buying unbranded pet food doesn’t have to mean that you are skimping on quality or risking the well-being of your pet – it is common sense, just look at the labels! Spend a little time comparing the ingredients of a trusted pet food brand and a cheaper version, and you should easily find an alternative food that is just as good and half the price. Bon appetit!