The real cost of owning a pet (2023)

We're a nation of pet lovers - with 11 million cats and 10 million dogs in the UK, over half of all UK adults own a pet.*

But while our furry friends can be a source of joy, comfort and company, they can also be expensive. The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) estimates that owning a dog could cost you as much as £30,000 over its lifetime.

If you're thinking of taking the plunge and adopting or buying a pet, here's everything you need to know about the costs...

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What's the difference between buying and adopting?

If you're choosing a pet, decide whether you want to adopt or buy. While this comes down to personal preference, adoption can help a pet that needs caring for enjoy a new life, and be incredibly rewarding. ‘There are so many rescue dogs and cats helping their owners through difficult times every single day,’ explains Claire O’Hagan, Rehoming and Welfare Manager at Battersea, ‘as much as we rescued them, they’re now rescuing us in return.’

Buying from a responsible breeder may suit others better. ‘You’re more able to predict its needs in terms of space, exercise and environment, during both its puppyhood and later in life, and make sure this matches with what you can offer,' says Bill Lambert, Head of Health and Welfare at The Kennel Club. Use their ‘Find a Puppy’ search tool to find registered breeders. For cats, try the GCCF. All breeders who sign up to this service to sell their pedigree kittens must adhere to a strict code of ethics.

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(Video) What’s the Real Cost of Owning A Pet?

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If you’re buying a pet, the average cost of a Labrador puppy – Britain’s most popular dog** – is £780, according to Pets4Homes. In comparison, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home’s rehoming fees are £175 for dogs over six months and £250 for puppies, £95 for cats over six months and £125 for kittens. This cost includes microchipping, initial vaccinations, flea and worm treatment and neutering.

‘We assess every animal that comes through our gates,’ adds Claire O’Hagan, 'so that we're able to match them with the best homes possible and potential owners will have a clear picture of what they’re taking on, and any extra costs that could be involved.'

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How much is pet insurance?

With the average claim costing a hefty £793, insurance for your pet is a good idea. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), pets need treatment from a vet once every three years, on average.

  • Annual insurance covers your pet for a year, typically for injuries or short-term illnesses, but check what's covered by individual policies carefully. At around £279 a year,*** this tends to become more expensive as your pet ages and may not be offered for much older pets.
  • Per-condition policies allocate a fixed sum of money to treat different illnesses or injuries. If treatment for a condition exceeds the maximum amount specified, you pay the difference.
  • Lifetime insurance is usually the most comprehensive cover you can get for your pet. It is designed to cover chronic and recurring conditions your pet may suffer from. There's an annual limit per condition and animals may be refused treatment when they reach a certain age.
  • Accident-only - the cheapest type of insurance only provides cover for vet bills if your pet is injured in an accident.
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    How much do microchipping, neutering and vaccinations cost?


    Microchipping your dog is a legal requirement. The cost is around £15, with the microchip being inserted by your vet. The cost is often covered by the rescue centre or breeder before you take your dog home.

    It’s not a legal requirement to microchip your cat, although it is recommended. ‘If not, there may be no way of tracing its owner if the pet gets lost. They may be rehomed, or face a life living as a stray,’ explains Jacqui Cuff at Cats Protection.

    TIP: Increase the chance of your pet being found should it go missing by registering it. A full list of the 15 databases that meet government standards is available at GOV.UK. For an extra cost, there are services that actively put out an alert if your pet is lost. such as PETtrac and Identichip.

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    Costs for dogs vary according to sex and breed, with the Blue Cross putting it anywhere between £110 - £365. Cat neutering costs £40 - £100, according to Cats Protection. The RSPCA offers neutering for £5 if you’re financially struggling, and the Blue Cross offers free neutering to dogs belonging to people receiving benefits.

    The real cost of owning a pet (6)
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    Puppies are typically immunised at eight -10 weeks, with second vaccinations and boosters to follow. Kittens should have their first vaccinations at nine weeks old, with boosters afterwards. Responsible breeders and all adoption centres will ensure your puppy or kitten has received its first set of vaccinations before you take it home. You are then responsible for paying for additional vaccinations, with booster injections costing roughly £35 for a dog**** and £44 for a cat.*****

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    What about flea and worm treatment?

    Staying on top of flea and worm treatment is important to keep pets healthy. They're available from your vet, but subscription services (try Itch, Protect My Pet or Pets at Home) can be cheaper, with flea treatments starting from £4 and worming treatment starting at £5.

    Before using these services, always consult a vet. ‘They will take into account factors such as animals in your home and your pet’s risk profile, temperament and potential exposure to other pests,’ says Daniella Dos Santos, Senior Vice President at British Veterinary Association.

    The real cost of owning a pet (8)

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    (Video) The REAL Cost of Owning A Dog (WHAT I SPEND ON MY FRENCHIE)

    What are the everyday costs of owning a pet?

    Factoring in everything from food and toys to leads and litter, Battersea estimates the annual cost of owning a cat can cost around £888 a year, while PDSA estimates that small dogs will cost roughly £600 a year, medium breeds £780 and large dogs £960.

    Food is probably going to be your biggest outgoing. The Money Advice Service puts the cost of feeding a cat at between £100 - £200 annually. Dog food can cost between £200 - £400, depending on their size.

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    How can I save money on pet costs?

    • Some retailers, such as Pets at Home and Pet-Supermarket offer money off for bulk buying food, if you've got the space to store.
    • If your pet needs medicine, don't automatically buy it from your vet without comparing prices - this could cost your three times more than buying medication online! You could ask for a prescription, then, order what you need from certificated pharmacies online, such as Pet Drugs Online and Animed Direct, often at a fraction of the cost. Some veterinary practises will even advise their clients to buy online, especially if their pet has a chronic condition. Take note: some practises may require for you to pay for a prescription, which typically costs between £15-£20, before you can transfer your order to online.*
    • To find the best value pet insurance policy, use a comparison site such as MoneySupermarket, GoCompare andCompare the Market.

      For more brilliant money-saving advice, sign up to our Financially Fabulous newsletter HERE



      ** Kennel Club


      ****Compare the Market

      (Video) More than adoption fees: The real cost of owning a pet

      *****Nimble Fins

      ******The Times


      What is the biggest expense to owning a pet? ›

      The majority, 71%, of pet parents have witnessed the cost of pet food and treats, toys, and even vet visits go up along with their grocery bills.

      Is owning a pet worth it? ›

      While owning a pet can cost you money, the companionship and potential health benefits of pet ownership could help you save over time. If you can afford the upfront and ongoing costs of owning a pet, it can be well worth it in the long run.

      How much does the average person spend on pets per month? ›

      According to a study conducted by OnePoll for AskVet, the average pet owner spends $111 monthly to care for their pet -- resulting in a yearly spend of $1,332. For pet owners with multiple pets, the total cost is even higher.

      How much happier are pet owners? ›

      In a global analysis using artificial intelligence, researchers with Petplan have found that pet owners worldwide are significantly happier than their pet-free neighbors. In fact, pet ownership increases overall happiness by more than 22 percent globally.

      How do you financially prepare a pet? ›

      How to Prepare Financially for a New Pet
      1. Build a Budget. One of the best ways to plan for financial success in general is setting up a budget. ...
      2. Consider Getting Pet Health Insurance. ...
      3. Schedule Preventative Checkups and Procedures. ...
      4. Set Up an Emergency Fund.
      Dec 5, 2018

      Are there any downsides to owning a pet? ›

      Con: Health Care Costs

      There is always the chance that your pet could get hurt or sick, and veterinary treatment can be expensive. You also need to plan for annual exam fees and the cost of preventive care, like vaccines and spaying or neutering.

      Are you happier if you have a pet? ›

      Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults.

      Do you live longer if you own a pet? ›

      Dog owners have better results after a major health event.

      The studies found that, overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as a heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.

      How much do Millennials spend on pets? ›

      Millennials are a close second at $1,195, followed by Gen Xers at $1,100, with baby boomers bringing up the rear at $926.

      What age group spends the most money on pets? ›

      All expenses considered, Gen Xers actually spend the most out of any age group on their dogs, while millennials spend the most on their cats, according to a different set of data collected for TD Ameritrade.

      How much should you spend on a pet annually? ›

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average annual household spending on pets rose from $460 in 2013 to $770 in 2021 — a figure that would be substantially higher if it excluded households with no pets at all.

      Is it normal to regret getting a dog? ›

      It is okay to have feelings of regret about getting a puppy. It doesn't make you a bad person and it doesn't mean you shouldn't have your puppy. Feeling inadequate as a pup parent is quite common, but luckily there are things you can do to help with those feelings!

      Are people without pets happier? ›

      Pet owners worldwide are significantly happier than people who do not have pets, according to a new global study led by London-based pet insurance company Petplan.

      Which pet makes people the happiest? ›

      The average happiness ratings per type of pet are as follows:
      • Horses: 7.37.
      • Dogs: 7.29.
      • Birds: 7.28.
      • Ferrets: 7.28.
      • Fish: 7.25.
      • Hamsters: 7.06.
      • Reptiles: 6.97.
      • Cats: 6.95.
      Jan 29, 2023

      How much money should I have saved before I get a dog? ›

      Aim to have enough saved to cover at least three months' worth of your future pet's living expenses, prior to adopting or purchasing a dog.

      How much money should you have saved when you get a dog? ›

      For each following year of a dog's life, you will need a budget of $500-$1000 to cover food, vaccines, routine vet care, annual license renewal, toys, treats, and pet insurance.

      How much do you think it costs annually to own a dog? ›

      The cost of owning a dog can be estimated at about $1,500 to $9,900 per year. There are ways to save money depending on the choices you make. Contributing factors include your dog's size and age, the region in which you live, your own lifestyle, and your dog's individual needs.

      Are pet owners less depressed? ›

      Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than people without pets. People with limited human social supports often experience feelings of loneliness and isolation, both of which can worsen depression. A pet helps to decrease these feelings by providing companionship to its owner.

      What is the hardest thing about being a pet owner? ›

      9 Difficult Things About Owning A Dog No One Ever Tells You About
      • Training Can Take Longer Than You Think. ...
      • It's Like Having A Small Child In The House. ...
      • They Will Tire You Out. ...
      • Wading Through All The Advice Can Be Stressful. ...
      • They Can Test Your Patience. ...
      • Figuring Out What To Feed Them Can Be Tricky. ...
      • Vet Bills Can Add Up Quickly.
      Sep 20, 2018

      Is having a pet stressful? ›

      Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.

      Do pets get your personality? ›

      Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that dogs often take on the same personality traits as their owner. The study revealed that dogs are like humans in that they have personalities that are shaped over time.

      Do pets enjoy their lives? ›

      A plethora of research has been done to try to answer this exact question and the results are in – our pets do love us back! While they may not show it in the same ways us humans do, our dogs and cats have their own unique ways of showing affection towards their human companions.

      Is having a pet good for mental health? ›

      Evidence suggests that attachment to pets is good for human health and even helps build a better community. It's no secret that pets can contribute to your happiness. Studies show that dogs reduce stress, anxiety and depression; ease loneliness; encourage exercise and improve your overall health.

      Which pet has the longest lifespan? ›

      1. Tortoise. Those looking for a pet for life will find that the Tortoise is one of the best options out there. Some tortoise species have been known to live for over a century.

      At what age are you too old to get a puppy? ›

      With some careful choices and a little planning, you can and should have a dog at any time in your life. As it turns out, when you are not a kid any longer, that may be when you want a dog most.

      What percentage of adults own a pet? ›

      Worldwide, 33% of households own pets. Only 2% of Americans admit to having pet insurance. Only 20% of American pet owners can afford to pay a $5,000 vet bill. 59% of Russians own a cat, which makes the country the highest share of cat owners in the world.

      What pet ownership is Gen Z? ›

      Gen Z leads the category in small pet ownership, compared to the other generations, and owns the most fish, birds, reptiles and horses. Baby Boomers and Gen X are more likely to recognize the social and emotional benefits of owning a pet.

      What gender spends more money on pets? ›

      Women spend more than men on pets.

      Men spent an average of $381, or 0.9% of their income, in the same period.

      Why are millennials choosing pets over kids? ›

      You can leave a pet alone. It's easier to find daycare for them. They can be expensive, but are far less likely to rival the financial burden that children — and later, teens — create. You don't have to uproot your social, romantic, or professional lives nearly as much to accommodate a pet.

      Are rich people more likely to have pets? ›

      Homeowners were almost three times more likely to own a dog, and the odds that a homeowner had a cat were 60 percent higher than the odds for non-homeowners. Wealthy people are more likely to live with pets than poor people. Individuals in higher income brackets were significantly more likely to own dogs and cats.

      What is the best age to get a pet? ›

      The age of your children is one factor to consider when getting a pet. Generally, since many dog bite injuries happen to young children, it may be safest to wait until your child is older than age 4. But think about your children and their individual maturity levels, because each child develops differently.

      How much does a dog cost a month? ›

      There are both initial and recurring costs to consider. The main costs include vet care, food, grooming, boarding and preventative treatments. According to the ASPCA, small dogs have an estimated monthly cost of $43, medium dogs cost an average of $56 per month and large dogs cost an average of $87 monthly.

      How many hours a day should you spend with your pet? ›

      “Some dogs will do better with more alone time than others,” he says. That said, for a general guideline, dogs should get a minimum of two hours of dedicated social time with humans or other dogs on a daily basis, which can be broken up into chunks of time over the course of the day.

      Is having a dog a big expense? ›

      Cats and dogs are a big personal and financial commitment. In the first year alone, a cat or dog will cost you between $3,000 and $6,000. After your first year together expect to pay at least: $1,627 each year for a dog.

      What are the 3 biggest expenses of owning a cat? ›

      Annual Expenses

      The basic everyday expenses for a cat are food, water, and kitty litter—but a lot more goes into that cost, especially depending on your specific cat.

      What are some pet expenses? ›

      Common one-time expenses

      These can include spaying or neutering, vaccinations, rabies shots, microchipping, licensing, training and pet supplies such as a crate, food bowls, leash, toys, brushes, litter boxes, litter and puppy pads.

      What are the biggest expenses of owning a cat? ›

      Like dogs, cats require a down deposit of sorts in order to get them settled into life with humans. It typically costs anywhere from $1,100 to $2,000 to pay for first-time cat expenses. The estimated top three expenses are fees for adoption, spay or neuter surgery, and initial vet exams and vaccinations.

      How much does a cat cost a month? ›

      How Much Does a Cat Cost per Month? According to the ASPCA, you can plan to spend around $634 annually on your cat. This breaks down to around $53 a month.

      How can I afford a cat on a budget? ›

      A great way to save, especially with a cat, is to buy supplies like food and litter in bulk quantities. That way, you typically get a better deal, and a large bag of cat food can last a long time. To protect yourself (and your bank account) from large vet bills, consider pet insurance for your cat.

      Are pet bills tax deductible? ›

      When a pet provides a service to a business, generates income, or is a service animal, pet expenses could be itemized. If you foster a pet or donate to pet charities, you might be able to take advantage of pet deductions.

      How to afford a dog on a budget? ›

      Dog owners worried about how to afford a dog on a budget can minimize these costs by choosing less expensive canned food and kibble or by making their own dog food. To save on other expenses, Müehlenberg grooms her dog at home, makes her own toys and treats and buys pet supplies in bulk.

      Are pet vet bills tax deductible? ›

      Veterinary bills, pet insurance, food, supplies, training, grooming, boarding, and transportation costs are all examples of pet expenses you can write off on taxes. However, you can only claim pets on taxes if they meet certain criteria, such as contributing to income or serving a medical need.

      How much human company does a cat need? ›

      Cats, while often independent creatures, still crave attention and love, in addition to their obvious nutritional needs of fresh water, clean litter, and food. If you decide to bring a cat or kitten into your home, you should be prepared to spend at least 20 minutes a day giving your cat loving one-on-one attention.

      Is having a cat worth it? ›

      Owning a cat can bring unconditional love and companionship to your life. Having a feline friend can also help to relieve stress and improve your heart health. Owning a cat can be an extremely rewarding relationship.

      What is the lifetime expense of a cat? ›

      Lifetime cat care expenses can top $45,000

      A Synchrony study looked at how much pet owners spend on lifetime pet care costs and how those costs differed for cats and dogs. They used 15 years as a reference point to estimate lifetime costs. The study found that lifetime cat care costs range from $15,055 to $45,790.

      Will I be happier with a dog? ›

      Studies have shown that even small interactions with dogs cause the human brain to produce oxytocin, a hormone often referred to as the “cuddle chemical.” Oxytocin increases feelings of relaxation, trust, and empathy while reducing stress and anxiety. That warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you cuddle with your pooch?


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