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The hidden costs of pet ownership

The hidden costs of pet ownership

Category: Pet Insurance

Updated: 21/08/2017
First Published: 27/08/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

A dog may be man's best friend, but he can also be an expensive companion. There's more to think about than the likes of food and vets bills, too, and research from The Co-operative Insurance has revealed just how much those hidden costs can add up.

Pricey pets

According to the figures, cats and dogs typically cost their owners an unexpected £5,000 over a lifetime. Dog owners are likely to spend the most, averaging £5,551 over a lifetime (£427 a year), while cat owners typically splash out an extra £4,980 (£332 a year). But just where does all that money go?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most common unexpected costs are for unforeseen vets trips, which account for 75% of the total, while special dietary requirements can account for an average of 17%. Costs for boarding kennels and catteries can equate to further 10% of unexpected costs, but there are also some more unique costs thrown into the mix, such as birthday presents (1%), and even more bizarrely, pet yoga (1.5%) and pet cams (1%).

It's these kinds of costs that many people don't budget for. The research went on to reveal that almost half (49%) of pet owners didn't think about the finances before they first got their pet, and of those, 48% have since faced unexpected costs. Some don't do the necessary planning, either, with 11% not researching what's involved before getting a pet.

Unfortunately, this can have an impact on household finances, with 21% of respondents having gone without essential items to cover the unexpected costs of pet ownership, while 31% have gone without luxury items.

Covering the cost

Of course, we're not suggesting that you shouldn't have a pet simply because of the cost involved. Far from it! We're simply saying that you should be prepared for those costs, and a key way to do that is by investing in suitable pet insurance.

This could be far more cost-effective than the alternatives, particularly with only 43% of owners having the funds immediately available to pay for unexpected costs – 38% had to dip into their savings pot to cover it, while 23% turned to a credit card and 7% borrowed from friends and family.

A further 10% were able to use their pet insurance for costs related to vets bills, and this will always be preferable. The cost of treatment can quickly add up, and if you need to turn to credit to cover it, you'll have to factor in the additional interest costs, too.

"As a nation of pet lovers the research clearly shows the lengths people are prepared to go to ensure the happiness and welfare of their pets," said David Hampson, head of Pet Insurance at The Co-operative. "[However,] while people generally consider the basics when buying a pet, a significant number don't think about the unexpected things that can add up.

"There will always be circumstances that are unforeseen, but with vet fees on the rise – and as they are the most common unplanned cost – pet owners should consider taking out pet insurance for peace of mind so that they have cover in place should the unexpected happen."

Pet insurance may seem like an extra expense, but it could be worth it for the peace of mind it can bring. Not only that, but it can work out far cheaper in the long run, and you won't need to worry about the financial cost of vet treatment during an already difficult time. It needn't cost a fortune, either – use our comparison tool to find the quote that's right for you and your pet.

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.