Owning a pet can really enhance your quality of life. Walking a dog ensures that you get regular exercise and meet fellow dog owners. Twenty minutes stroking a cat at the end of a hard day is a great stress buster and if you have children they can learn about responsibility and compassion through looking after a pet.
Unfortunately, many people buy a pet on a whim, without properly considering the time or the cost involved. Pedigree animals can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds and then there are the expenses relating to feeding, veterinary costs and the purchase of specialist equipment. There are, however, ways in which you can reduce the cost of owning a pet without diminishing the quality of the experience.
Rehome a pet
Thousands of animals are abandoned each year and by giving a home to one of these animals you are doing your bit to help alleviate the problem. Giving the animal a second chance and saving you money – it’s a win-win. All kinds of animals are available to be rehomed: cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs even horses. Research the breed that you are interested in and ask lots of questions about the history of the animal so that you can judge whether it will fit in with your lifestyle and your family.
Insure your pet
Yes, that’s right, sometimes the adage about having to spend money to save money is true. The average pet insurance claim is around £750 but costs can run into thousands, a cat can be insured for around £60 a year and a dog for around £115. Not taking out insurance will save you money in the short term but if your pet requires medication or surgery, your finances may suffer in the future, as you may find yourself having to choose between financial hardship or having the animal put down. Insurance buys you peace of mind and ensures that your pet will have the best possible treatment in the event of sickness.
Work out a budget before you acquire your pet
Far too many people fall in love with an animal, bring it home as a pet and only then start to realise the costs involved. Before you become a pet owner, be clear about the costs involved and whether you can afford them. Generally speaking, the bigger the animal, the more expensive it is going to be to look after, although exotic pets which require special environments have high start-up costs. Food is a regular monthly bill and in the case of a large dog it can be a significant expense, your animal may also require annual vaccinations, pet insurance and there may be items of equipment, such as beds, cat flaps or cages. For things like food, buy in bulk as you’re likely to get a discount and save money in the long run.
Look after your pet’s health
Regular grooming removes loose hair and prevents tangling and matting. It also helps you bond with your pet. Brushing the teeth of your cat or dog is also an important preventative measure. Tartar, plaque and gingivitis can lead to heart, liver and kidney disease. Never use human toothpaste, it can be poisonous to animals. Also, make sure you’re providing your pet with nutritious food and the correct amount of exercise. Looking after your animal’s health will save you money at the vet and give your pet a longer, happier life.