Want a pet? Watch out – they are a pricey proposition

Dog and cat ownership is booming. But before you invest in a furry friend, consider how much it costs to buy, feed, care for and insure one.

The crisis has led to a boom in pet sales, with lockdown prompting many of us to decide that we could do with one to keep us company. Pets4Homes, the free pet classified-advertisements site, says it rehomed 2,000 pets per day during lockdown.

If you got a pet the chances are you paid a lot for it. With demand fast outstripping supply, prices have rocketed, with the average cost of a puppy doubling to £1,400. Cocker spaniels saw the biggest price rise. A puppy would have set you back by an average £2,109 in June, triple the cost 12 months earlier. The price of cats also shot up by almost a third during lockdown. People were parting with almost £400 on average for a kitten. 

If you are inclined to get a pet, be careful. In March and April 669 people lost £282,686 to pet cons, according to Action Fraud. Scammers post advertisements online despite not having any animals to sell. They ask for a deposit, then more money for insurance, vaccinations and delivery, but the pet never appears. 

Always “identify a Kennel Club Assured Breeder, or find a breeder through a personal recommendation”, Paula Boyden, Dog Trust’s veterinary director told the Daily Mirror. Ensure you “see a puppy, even if it’s over a video call, and ask to see vital paperwork, such as a puppy contract”. Before you get a pet, consider how much it can cost you over its lifetime. Food, vets’ bills and other costs add up to an average of £4,500 for a small dog, rising to £13,000 for a large breed, according to the PDSA. The average cat will cost its owner around £12,000.

The next question is pet insurance. It is a booming industry, with 3.6 million policies. “Given the high costs of veterinary care, a growing number of pet owners are... paying a steady monthly premium for peace of mind,” says Nick Johnstone in the Financial Times. “Claims have nearly doubled to £815m in the past six years.”

The average pet insurance claim is £793. Before you sign up, note that the average premium for a dog over the age of five is £381 a year, according to moneysupermarket.com. If you have a dog that lives for 15 years, it would cost £4,975 to insure it. If you have savings to cover vets’ bills in the early years, then another option is to self-insure. Rather than pay an insurer you put the equivalent premium into a savings account. That way you have the money to pay for any problems that arise, but if Fido has a healthy life you still have your savings.

Recommended

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts
Bank accounts

Negative interest rates and the end of free bank accounts

Negative interest rates are likely to mean the introduction of fees for current accounts and other banking products. But that might make the UK bankin…
19 Oct 2020
How to make your home greener with a government grant
Personal finance

How to make your home greener with a government grant

Cut the cost of making your house more environmentally friendly with a Green Home Grant.
13 Oct 2020
Ethical investing: your guide to ethical banking
ESG investing

Ethical investing: your guide to ethical banking

There are plenty of ESG funds to choose from – but what about your day-to-day saving and spending needs? We look at the best ethical current and savin…
6 Oct 2020
Where to put your savings now that NS&I has cut its rates
Savings

Where to put your savings now that NS&I has cut its rates

National Savings & Investments (NS&I) has slashed its interest rates. There are now much better deals for your savings elsewhere, says Ruth Jackson Ki…
2 Oct 2020

Most Popular

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm
Bitcoin

The Bank of England should create a "Bitpound" digital currency and take the world by storm

The Bank of England could win the race to create a respectable digital currency if it moves quickly, says Matthew Lynn.
18 Oct 2020
What would negative interest rates mean for your money?
UK Economy

What would negative interest rates mean for your money?

There has been much talk of the Bank of England introducing negative interest rates. John Stepek explains why they might do that, and what it would me…
15 Oct 2020
Last chance to secure a Bounce Back loan for your small business
Small business

Last chance to secure a Bounce Back loan for your small business

The government’s Bounce Back loan scheme will only run for another six weeks. Act now if you need to take advantage of it.
16 Oct 2020