Keeping pets can be an expensive business – with vet’s bills, food, kennels and insurance to consider, the average cost of looking after a dog is close to £1,000 per year, and even cats can cost well over £500.
It’s hardly surprising then that in these times of financial austerity, people are looking to see how they can reduce the costs of their pets, and in some cases this can lead to welfare problems as owners cut back too far. And sadly, some owners even resort to drastic measures such as abandoning their pets for re-homing which has led to an increase in the number of unwanted pets languishing in rescue centres up and down the country.
However, cutting back spending on your furry friends doesn’t have to mean they suffer – there are many ways you can economise without having a negative impact on their quality of life.
TV vet Joe Inglis graced our screens for 11 years in BBC One’s Vets in Practice and is now a regular on The One Show. Joe has written numerous books about caring for pets and has his own natural pet food range so was the perfect choice to give Moneymagpie his top tips for looking after your pets for less:
1. Shop around for veterinary care
Vet’s bills are one of the main expenses for most pet owners so it’s well worth shopping around to find a reasonably-priced surgery as prices can vary enormously.
There are more and more ‘low cost’ surgeries and vaccination and neutering clinics around the country offering substantial discounts over more traditional surgeries. For example, routine vaccinations for dogs often cost around £35-40 at the vet, but you can often have exactly the same injections done for around £20 if you shop around.
And savings for surgical procedures such as neutering can be even more significant – in a film for The One Show we found that the prices for neutering a dog varied by over £100 just in one town.
2. Ask for a quote
If your pet needs complex treatment or surgery, ask your vet for a quote before agreeing to go ahead. Not only will this enable you to plan for the cost in advance, it will also focus the mind of your vet on the costs and often helps to keep bills down.
3. Insure your pet
Good pet insurance can save you a packet if your pet is ill and it’s a great way of spreading out the costs of treatment over the year.
With veterinary medicine and surgery becoming increasingly complex and expensive, insurance is the best way to ensure that your pets can benefit from these advances in treatments without risking blowing a hole in your finances should the worst happen.
It’s worth taking time to find a good insurer, though, as not all policies are the same and it’s best to choose a good-quality policy that offers features such as protection for illnesses that continue for more than 12 months.
Different policies are right for different people, so shopping around is essential but here are some we particularly like:
Homebase offer 10% off if you buy pet insurance online with them, with an extra 10% off for each extra pet you insure.
Tesco offer a whopping 25% off their pet insurance for Clubcard holders, with prices starting from just £4 a month.
MORE TH>N offer cover starting from just £7 a month.
Direct Line are offering 10% off pet insurance online.
The Green Insurance Company will protect your pet from just £5.93 a month, and they support some great animal charities – like the RSPB and Marine Conservation Society.
For further comparisons check out GoCompare.com.
4. Shop online for healthcare products
Products such as flea drops and worming tablets that were once only available from vets are now widely available online and you can save as much as 50% on the prices offered in the surgery if you buy online.
5. Buy prescriptions online
As well as buying flea and worming products online, you can also save on prescription drugs such as tablets for heart disease or arthritis. You do need to get a prescription from your vet, for which there is usually a small charge, but the savings you will then get from shopping online will more than outweigh these costs in most cases.
Moneymagpie says: Check out Best Pet Pharmacy. They have up to 50% off pet medicines and supplies, offer free delivery within the UK and are even able to dispense vet-prescribed medicines for up to 50% less too.
6. Don’t compromise on quality
When it comes to essentials such as food it’s generally a false economy to change to cheaper brands as you very much get what you pay for with pet foods. The cheaper foods tend to contain a much lower quality of ingredients and this can affect the long-term health of your pet and lead to more expensive vet bills, not to mention a more miserable pet!
For more tips on caring for your pets, follow Joe on Twitter @joethevet, or visit his website www.vetskitchen.co.uk where you can also find out more about his Vet’s Kitchen range of natural veterinary foods and supplements.