Six tips to save money while still caring for your pet - advice from the RSPCA
The costs of everyday living are surging and, understandably, more people are worrying about how they're going to be able to afford to cover their expenses, including their pets.
The RSPCA's ground-breaking report, the Animal Kindness Index, in partnership with the Scottish SPCA, looked at the nation's attitude towards animals.
The report, based on a YouGov survey of more than 4,000 UK adults, revealed that the rising cost of living is a big concern to pet owners.
The study found that 78% of pet owners think the cost of living will impact their animals, 68% expressed concern that the cost of care was increasing, and 19% said they were worried about how they'll afford to feed their pets.
Top tips for saving money while still caring for your pets
1. Switch food
Pet food can be incredibly expensive so why not explore whether there is a cheaper food that is still high welfare and meets your pets' needs? You could mix your regular food with a cheaper brand to make it stretch further. Dry food goes much further than wet food, even though the upfront cost can be higher. Your pet is eating a well-balanced diet that is specific for their species and suitable for their age, lifestyle and health!
Remember: check with your vet before switching your pet's diet.
2. Buy prescriptions online
Did you know it can be cheaper to buy medication online? Your vet can write you a prescription for a small fee and you can order medication online which is usually much cheaper than buying direct from the vet.
3. Ditch the pet-sitter
We all know not to leave our pets at home all day on their own; professional pet-sitters and dog walkers are often a lifeline but they can be pricey. Do you have trusted friends or family who could help take care of your pet when you're on holiday or walk your dog if you're out all day? Or why not start up a responsible community group where you all help each other out with pet care? Just remember to introduce your pets to new people gradually and ensure they are comfortable with their new friends before leaving them in charge.
4. Payment plans
Some vets offer payment plans through a credit company if you need help spreading the cost. Not every vet can offer this, but it's worth asking if this is an option. Paying off small amounts every week or month might be easier to manage than a large upfront payment.
5. Shop around for insurance
Pet insurance premiums can go up and up so it's always worth shopping around to see if you can get a suitable level of cover with another provider - but beware policies with lots of limitations and remember pre-existing conditions won't be covered. Insurance will also give you peace of mind that any surprise vet bills will be covered.
6. Prevention pays
Preventing problems is cheaper and easier than treating them once they arrive. Behaviour problems in pets can be really tricky to get on top of so it's really important to ensure our pets get good early life experiences and are well trained and socialised. Address any behaviour problems early - there are free resources online to help too! And keep on top of preventative care like worming and flea treatments which can become costly problems if not addressed. Some vets offer a paid monthly service for wormer, tick and flea treatment too which helps to spread the cost.