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Money matters: The real cost of owning a pet

By Jill Smyth

Published 25/08/2015

Cats and dogs - depending on breed - can be very expensive to buy
Cats and dogs - depending on breed - can be very expensive to buy

I count myself very lucky to share my life with my two beautiful pedigree ragdoll cats. But I have to say that they cost me an absolute fortune to look after. Mind you, they are worth it. In the run up to Christmas, many families will be thinking about introducing a pet into the family, so if you are considering getting a pet, you will need to consider the costs beforehand.

Buying or acquiring your pet

Cats and dogs - depending on breed - can be very expensive to buy. If you are buying directly from a breeder, a pedigree cat or dog can cost anything up to £1,000 - and in some cases even more, if they are a rare breed. If you choose to rehome an animal from a shelter, the costs will be considerably less. But you will still need to make a donation.

Vaccinations

To keep your pets healthy, they’ll need regular check-ups and vaccinations at the vet. This may be on top of other medical procedures such as neutering and spaying, which in many cases is necessary, but can be costly. If you need to leave your pets at kennels, they will need to have up-to-date vaccinations or they may not take them; so it’s important that you factor in these costs. Your local vet should be able to give you an idea of how much you will need to set aside.

Microchipping

Millions of pets get lost every year. Some are reunited with their owners, while others aren’t so lucky. Collars and tags can serve a purpose, but micro-chipping provides a permanent way of identifying your pet, should it go missing. Vets can do this for you for a small fee and it offers real peace of mind.

Grooming

If you have long-haired pets, they may need professional grooming to keep them in good condition – this along with nail clipping and in some cases dental work can lead to mounting costs.

Food and accessories

Some pets will only eat special brands of food which can be very expensive so, always check this out before you buy the pet. Feeding a large dog could cost more than feeding your kids! You will also have to buy pet bowls, a bed, carrier or cage, lead, collar and for the fashion conscious you may even consider buying pet clothes.

Insurance

Many breeders will insist that you have insurance before they sell you the pet. There are lots of different policies available, so it is worth shopping around for the best deals. Always read the ‘small print’ and make sure you are covered for everything you need. Take into account the age of your pet and any existing medical conditions as these can affect your premium. If you have more than one pet you, may be able to get discount or arrange a special deal.

Pet Hotels

If you enjoy holidays or are away with work on a regular basis, you may need to factor in the costs of boarding kennels or catteries or hiring in pet sitters to look after your furry friends while you are away. You can expect to pay up to £10 per day for each pet, which if you are heading off on a fortnight’s holiday you will need to set aside £140 at a minimum.

MoneySense is a free, independent programme by Ulster Bank for schools and parents covering topics including banking, borrowing, budgeting and running a small business.

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