The cost of keeping a pet can soon mount up.
The welfare of our pets is normally our biggest concern, but this doesn’t have to mean spending huge amounts of money on food, veterinary care or insurance.
We know because throughout the year we survey thousands of Which? members to see how they save money on everyday bills, services or purchases. You can see the full range of our members’ money-saving tips by trialling Which? Money for two months for £1.
In August and September 2015 we asked 398 members about the savings they had made on food, vets bills, medicines and holiday care for their pets. Here we share some of their best ideas.
Look online for quality food at lower prices
Dedicated sites, such as Zooplus.co.uk or Pet-Supermarket.co.uk sell well-known brands of pet food, as well as European offerings unavailable in British supermarkets. These were popular with many members including Anne De’ath, from Harrow, who saved £40 on Science Plan products via Zooplus.co.uk, which offers free delivery if you spend more than £30.
Some members made their own food and treats, which proved to not only be cheaper but also better for their pets’ health.
Consider the benefits of your insurance premium
Pet insurance offers valuable peace of mind, by covering veterinary procedures that could cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds. But it could be worth weighing up the costs against other options – such as self-insuring. Jeremy Cook saved £720 in premiums by paying £60 each month into a rainy day fund to cover any big bills.
Some insurers exclude certain conditions as your pet gets older, as well as increasing the premium. One member’s insurer stopped covering the front legs of her horse so she stopped paying premiums and used a charity to cover her for public liability.
Find out more – Pet insurance options – get to grips with the different types of cover in our comprehensive guide
Ask a neighbour or friend to help out
The cost of a bottle of wine or holiday souvenir will be smaller than fees for a boarding kennel or cattery. A huge number of members enlisted the help of friends, neighbours or family when they went away.
Virginia Wiltshire, from Hampshire, house-sits for friends when they go away and enjoys returning the favour as she gets to explore different parts of the country.
One member took in a lodger to keep an eye on their pet, as they travel frequently. This has not only saved them money, but also provided some extra income and added security.
Don’t buy all prescriptions from your vet
You can save money on the cost of prescribed medicines by going online – particularly useful for animals requiring regular treatments. Members told us they’d used sites like VioVet.co.uk or PetDrugsOnline.co.uk to make impressive savings.
Helen Cleaver, from Worcestershire, saves £400 a year by buying flea treatments and other regular medication for her cats via AnimedDirect.co.uk.
The vet will charge you for the prescription, usually £10 to £15, but once you have this you can shop around online and upload, post or even fax the prescription to the company to receive the correct dosage and instructions.
Find out more – The Consumer Contracts Regulation – if you shop online you can return products regardless of whether they are faulty