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Cost of Owning a Pet in the UK

Nov 30, 2022

Owning a pet is one of the best and biggest decisions you can make in your life. They provide you with a seemingly endless amount of love as well as being your loyal companion throughout the day. However, many people do not take into consideration the cost of owning a dog, cat, or other pets. From vet bills to toys and food, pets come with a lot of expenses over the course of their life. Before committing to a pet, you must take into consideration how much they will cost you on top of the original purchase price. Once you have worked that out, you will know if you can afford the added expense and it may even help you decide on a breed. Read on to learn how much your pets are likely to cost you.

Puppy cuddling owner

Original Purchase Price

Whether you’re getting your pet from a shelter or rescue centre, or choosing to get a pet from an experienced breeder, you can usually expect to pay some sort of fee for obtaining your pet, although that isn’t always the case. Out of everything on our list, the only thing that may be free is obtaining your pet. It is important to note, that a ‘free’ pet from a friend or family member likely does not come with any medical care, registration, or other checks that a qualified breeder would provide. This means you may have higher bills in the future than you would if you got your animal from a reputable breeder or rescue centre.

Cost: One off payment of £0 - £5,000+ (varies greatly depending on species, breed, and where the pet is purchased from)

Dog having a vaccination


Vaccinations are integral to your pet for several reasons. For starters, they’re going to help you avoid paying huge vet bills in the future because they allow your pet to avoid certain illnesses. When looking at pet medical care, it’s important to note that prevention is much more valuable in the long run as many illnesses have lasting effects. A £45 vaccine may starve off an £11,000 illness! The other great thing about vaccines is that they are usually quite affordable. Even if your finances drastically change, you can usually obtain reduced cost or even free vaccines through certain charitable organisations. This also means there’s never a reason for your pet not to get vaccinated.

Cost: £0 - £100 per year

Pet food in a bowl

Pet Food

Pets have to eat too, and their food can quickly add up. Some owners choose make their pet’s meals themselves whilst many others give their pets shop bought, pre made food. Although making the food yourself is a worthwhile goal, you must ensure your pet is receiving the right nutrients for its body, which will vary depending on your pet’s breed, age, health conditions, and exercise routine. If you’re doing it correctly, it is likely to be more expensive to feed your pet with homemade meals. If you decide to go for the more popular option of shop bought food, you can expect to save money and give your pets a balanced meal. However, you get what you pay for with pet foods, so you need to make sure all the ingredients are right for your pets. If your pet needs a specialty food, you can expect to pay more as well.

When choosing the right food for your pet, it is always a good idea to speak to a professional such as your vet or the breeder/shelter you purchase the pet from.

Cost: £10 - £100+ / per pet, per month

Yorkshire Terrier in a dog bed


All animals deserve a comfortable place to put their head at night. For dogs and cats, bedding will usually consist of a plush area or bed that they can curl up in. Some people may opt to get a cat tower for their cats rather than a bed while dog owners may want to use a doghouse or even a crate (for help with crate training, have a look at this blog) . Regardless of which bedding you choose, your pet deserves its own, comfortable space, even if they curl up on your bed most nights.

Cost: £0 - £5,000+

Dog with a toy in its mouth


Pets want to have fun and play with their toys just like humans do. To ensure yours are happy, you need to provide them with an assortment of toys that stimulate their brains. Giving them toys has many benefits, from curing their boredom, providing comfort, and rewarding good behaviour. Crucially, playing with your pet and their toys is a great way to strengthen your own bond with them.

Cost: £5 - £100+

Yorkshire Terrier being groomed


Just like you, pets like to and need to stay nice and clean. Some animals will regularly groom themselves, like cats, but many will need help to ensure they look their best and their coat and skin are healthy and clear of disease or infection. Teaching yourself to groom your pet will cost you initially as you purchase supplies like shampoo, but you will not need to worry about incurring grooming expenses in the future. Taking your dog or cat (yes, cats do need occasional baths as well) to the groomer is a great option as well because you are taking your pet to a trained professional.

Some breeds require a lot more grooming than others. For example, a hairless cat like a sphynx will clearly require a lot less grooming than a large dog like a St Bernard or German Shepherd. Grooming requirement is a key factor to consider when choosing a breed. If you don’t have the time or funds to provide the grooming the pet needs, then you should consider getting a different breed.

Cost: £20 - £100+ every 1 - 3 months

Dog being trained


Pets need to learn much more than “sit” and “stay” and some breeds require more than others. Training a dog or cat can be completed at home, but it’s often much more efficient to work with a professional either individually or in a class to get your pet trained well and in record time. Most trainers will charge you per hour to work with your pet, but you can also find training class packages that allow you to pay for a group of sessions.

For young puppies, not only does attending a class improve the efficiency of the training, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to work on their socialisation which is crucial.

Different breeds require different levels of training. For example, there are some breeds that are incredibly intelligent, like Poodles, but they’re also stubborn and therefore can be difficult to train if not done properly. There are also some breeds that more difficult than others to house train, or that may require more attention to reduce the level of barking and jumping up. Do you want a breed that is easy to train? Do you have the time, commitment, and funds to put in the training that is required for the breed your considering?

Remember also that training isn’t only necessary when a pet is young. For many, regularly training will be required throughout their life.

Cost: £20 - £1,000 (Frequency varies)

Cat's paw on a laptop

Pet Insurance

Pet insurance is one of the most important things you should consider for your pet. Imagine your pet getting in an accident or diagnosed with a disease that requires veterinary treatment. These conditions can cost you thousands of pounds in vet bills to get them back to good health. Many pet owners simply are not in a position to find the funds needed for treatment, which can lead to tough decisions about their pet’s future. Pet insurance allows owners to access to this otherwise unaffordable treatment which could be the difference between life and death for their pet. This means your pet can live a longer, healthier life without you worrying an unexpected vet bill.

Obviously, pet insurance does come at a cost itself and that will vary greatly depending on a few factors, the main being the pet’s breed, their age, and your location. Before you purchase a pet, it is a good idea to get some quotes from a few insurance providers, much like you would before purchasing a car, and making sure you can afford the insurance.

One tip when looking for insurance for a new pet is to get a quote for the same pet but at different ages. This will give you a rough idea of how much the insurance premiums may increase each year. Doing this, will help you plan for the future and make sure you choose a breed that you know you can afford.

Make sure you do your research before choosing your pet insurance policy. Each pet and their owner have different circumstances from one another. There is no such thing as one size fits all when it comes to pet insurance. You will need to review the different types of insurance including lifetime, time limited, and accident only, the exclusions on any policy, and the level of cover you will require. For example, some breeds are more susceptible to certain diseases or conditions and are likely to cost more to insure but they are also more likely to incur higher veterinary bills so for these breeds a higher level of cover may be required.

Cost: £5 - £200 per month (depending on many factors such as breed, age, and location)

French Bulldog in surgery

Veterinary Bills

If you opt not to have pet insurance, or your pet’s condition is not covered by their insurance, your pet’s vet bills can quickly add up. Pet insurance keeps these costs low and treatments that would cost you thousands of pounds are reduced to a few hundred, due to excess and co-payment. However, not everyone is going to get pet insurance and for some breeds and ages, it can be difficult to find affordable cover. If this is the case, you will need to have an appropriate amount of money set aside, or alternative source of funds, to ensure you can afford what can sometimes be very expensive vet bills.

Cost: £10 - £10,000+

Dog in a kennel

Kennel Fees

Taking your dog on holiday isn’t always a viable option, nor is taking them to work. If you have a dog or cat with social anxiety or simply need them to be looked after for a few weeks, you may need to check them into a kennel. Kennels allow you to board your pet either for the day while you are at work or for an extended amount of time while you are on holiday.

Cost: £20+ / per day

Beagle holding its own lead

Leads, tags, and collars

Leads, collars, and tags are all necessary costs of owning a dog in the UK. When people wonder how much does a dog cost, they frequently forget that they will need to pay to keep their dog secure at all times. If your dog is not tagged, which is illegal in the UK, it may be considered a stray and it may be difficult to be reunited with them if they are taken to a shelter, rescue centre, or veterinary clinic.

Cost: £20 - £100+

Kitten at the vets


Although for years many people kept their animals intact, most people now spay and neuter their pets to keep the stray population low and to avoid dealing with surprise litters and complications that can arise from pregnancy. Spaying your bitch and neutering your dog can also help both animals to avoid certain cancers that can start in the reproductive system as well as prevent troublesome behaviours, like running away in an attempt to find a mate.

Cost: £20 - £100+

Dog being given a treat

Optional Fees

Just when you think it’s over, we have more to throw at you. Optional or miscellaneous fees include unexpected things like a dog needing regular medication, car restraints, flea treatments, extra toys, treats, etc. These items may be necessary for your animal, or they might be a special treat you purchase for your pet occasionally. Regardless of what they are, you should expect to set aside a few pounds each month for miscellaneous purchases for your pets.

Cost: £30+ / per month

So, how much does it cost to own a pet in the UK?

When wondering how much does it cost to keep a dog or a cat, it can be tempting to just think about your initial expenses, but pets will continue to rack up bills for the rest of their lives. The most expensive of all are veterinary bills, though these aren’t guaranteed. After veterinary bills come the food bill which, depending on the pet’s need and your choice of food, can easily cost over £1,000 a year. By including pet insurance as a necessary bill, you can severely reduce how much you spend on vet costs throughout your pet’s life. To learn more about how pet insurance can help you, check out our website.

According to Statista, the average yearly cost of owning a dog in the UK is £1,875, as of January 2022 but, as discussed in this blog, that will vary greatly depending on a range of factors.