Many of us have fantastic childhood memories of our cats, dogs, hamsters, rabbits and other furry animals who were by default the extended members of our families. And any loyal follower of MedicAnimal will know what a delight our pets are, offering love and affection, companionship, stress reduction, and they can even look out for our physical health.
Sadly it seems however that in the recent times, the number of people who have the pleasure of owning a pet has fallen. In 1999 a satisfying 55% of households in the UK owned a pet of some type, backing the strong belief that pet ownership is good for your mental and physical wellbeing. But in 2015, that number declined to 46%, and over the last 3 years alone we have seen the number of pets owners in the UK drop by a whopping 10 million: numbers in 2013 stood at 69 million, and have fallen to 58.4 million in 2015.
So what’s causing this sudden decline in animal companionship? Andrew Bucher, the Chief Veterinary Officer at MedicAnimal sheds some light onto the situation:
“While there are many factors that contribute to the decline in ownership levels, such as a rise in the number of people living in rental accommodation, there are definitely signs that pet ownership is seen as less affordable than now than it has been in previously.”
But surely, pet ownership shouldn’t be viewed as a luxury, Andrew argues. Yes, pets require financial management but providing that the responsible owners budget and purchase the correct insurance for their pets, bringing a delightful furry friend into your life shouldn’t break the bank.
So what advice does Andrew Bucher offer to new pet owners to manage the costs?
Pet supplies can be up for 30% cheaper if you buy them online, and when it comes to shopping for pet food, buying in bulk can help you save and work out cheaper in the long run. Some medication can be cheaper to buy online too if you have the right prescriptions from your vet.
Insuring your pet can be a lifeline for them when they fall ill. It’s best to get insurance before they are 7 years old, because many insurance companies may turn down an older pet. Premiums can vary depending on where you live, and bear in mind that pre-existing medical conditions may not be covered.
Open a savings account
Having a separate account can help you manage your pet budget, and can be a last resort should anything go wrong. If you can’t afford pet insurance up front, putting aside around £50-70 each month could save you if you’re caught off guard by a medical emergency.
Don’t forget the vet
Prevention is always better than cure. Quite often pets are brought into the vet and are sadly put down after a small, preventable problem spirals out of control. Neutering/ spaying your pet can also save a lot of money in the long run in avoiding unwanted pregnancies.
Ask for help
While it’s compulsory as of April 2016 to chip your dogs, there are some charities out there including the Dogs Trust who will chip your dog for free. If you’re receiving certain benefits and find yourself unable to meet the cost of vet bills, the PDSA may be able to help for poorly pet through their vet services scheme which covers most household pets.