Costs of Owning a Pet | Animal Friends

Care / Costs of Owning a Pet

Elena Barnard

Animal Friends Pet Insurance

Before buying a pet you need to consider whether you will be able to afford to provide them with everything they will need throughout their life. The initial cost of buying the pet does not begin to cover the total cost of owning one. Careful planning and preparation is required as you don’t want to give up your new pet after a few months, and it is especially unfair if you were to return an adopted pet to a shelter. Making sure you can care for your pet is a vital part of responsible pet ownership.

Adopting a pet is usually a lot less expensive than buying from a breeder. Spaying and neutering, vaccinations, flea and worming treatment plus microchipping are usually included in the price. Some shelters add extras such as a collar, lead, identification tag and even food. Breeders normally don’t cover the cost of any of these things, so you will have to pay for them yourself. All of these procedures combined with any extras can often be more expensive than buying the pet in the first place, and certainly more than adopting a rescue animal. To ensure you are getting a healthy pet for a fair price, rehoming from a shelter would be the best option.

If you get a puppy or kitten, whether from a shelter or breeder, you will have to cover the cost of vaccinations. A shelter will usually vaccinate an animal up to the required level depending on their age, but you will have to pay for any subsequent treatments. These are vital in ensuring your pet’s survival against various diseases and conditions, some of which can be life threatening. Vaccinations can range from £30 to around £80 depending on their age and the vaccination type, and are just one example of the many essentials your pet needs.

You would be surprised at how much feeding your pet costs throughout their entire life. You want your pet to have the best food, but this comes at a higher price. Compare the prices of various brands of pet food before deciding which one is the best for you. Also take into account the cost of essentials and other home comforts such as a crate, bedding, a lead, toys, food dishes and a litter box for a cat, plus anything else you may need. Bear in mind these will probably have to be replaced eventually, so accounting for just one of these items will not cover the amount you will actually spend over the course of your pet’s lifetime.

Vet fees can’t be underestimated. You don’t know if and when your pet will develop health problems, from a minor fever to a major disease that continues throughout their life and requires constant medication. Thorough research into conditions that are prevalent in certain breeds will better equip you with any issues your pet may experience. Think about whether you can financially support your pet should they become ill. A breed being prone to certain problems doesn’t mean to say your pet will definitely experience them, or they could develop a condition not usually associated with their breed. Although nothing can be predicted, ensure that you will be in the best possible position to cope with potentially large vet bills.

A pet’s size and age can often determine extra costs. Vet bills may be more expensive for a larger pet simply because of their size, whilst an older pet could be more prone to illness. Kennels often charge more to keep larger dogs, and they tend to need more food per portion. However, the cost of owning smaller animals shouldn’t be miscalculated. They all have their own needs, and these come at a price. Reptiles often require large glass tanks to accommodate the size they will grow to, plus a costly diet of live feed. Rodents all require cages, bedding and food of some sort, and the bedding needs to be changed regularly. Also, smaller dogs may prove more expensive long term because they usually live longer than larger dogs. Don’t let the idea of a smaller sized pet mislead you into thinking they will cost less. Often they can be just as much as a larger animal, if not more, so thoroughly research how much caring for them will be and think about whether you can afford to keep the pet you want.

There are extra expenses that you also need to consider. The price of grooming can range from £15 to around £80 each time depending on the type of dog. Bear in mind that long haired breeds will require grooming every few weeks. Employing anyone else to care for your pet in your absence, such as a dog walker, will also mean paying more. Consider whether you will be able to afford these extra (but necessary) expenses before getting a pet, as they can generate many unforeseen costs.

You don’t know what may happen during your pet’s life, or your own. You need to take into account any big changes that are likely to happen in the future such as moving house or having a baby, and whether your pet will be able to cope in such circumstances. If not, they could become stressed and develop behavioural issues, which may require the attention of a behavioural therapist or professional dog trainer, and extra costs for the owner. If you know a big change is going to take place in the future it might be worth waiting until you can provide them with the stable, secure home they need before you get a pet.

Factoring your pet into your travel plans might not be as simple as you initially think. Should you choose to leave them behind, kennels and catteries can charge around £16 or higher per day. This is a lot of money to be spending on top of the amount paid to go on holiday. Taking your pet with you will also come with a lot of extra expenditure. It can cost over £70 to get your pet a rabies vaccination, plus extra for a dog’s tapeworm treatment. That is before you have accounted for the pet passport or certificate that is required for overseas travel. Ask yourself if you are able to meet all of your pet’s needs, whether or not you choose to take them with you.

Pet insurance is another factor you need to consider, but it doesn’t have to be expensive with Animal Friends. There are many policies available and although it isn’t compulsory, having insurance gives you peace of mind. Research is important as you need to be sure you are getting the cover you need, and there are many policies to choose from including Lifetime, Time-Limited, Accident Only and more. Fully reading and understanding the details of any policy you choose will ensure that, when making a claim, you will be able to assess exactly what you’re likely to get back. Speak to an advisor and look on our insurance page to find out more information about exactly what each policy covers.

Though owning a pet can be expensive, it’s definitely worthwhile. Many people find it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of their lives, and are very happy to pay as much as their pet needs to give them the best life possible. Despite having the best intentions, sometimes people are unable to care for their pet in the way they want to or in the way the pet needs. Be sure when deciding to adopt that you really can afford to give them the home they deserve.


    Hello, fellow animal lovers! I’m Elena, and I take care of social media for Animal Friends Insurance. I’m here to share the latest on animal welfare, our charity work and pet care. I foster and adopt rabbits and have a rescue dog called Luna.