Pets could be the latest victims of the UK’s devastating cost-of-living crisis

For many of us, our furry friends are easy another family member. They make us laugh, show us love, and give us purpose and structure.

Between March 2020 and March 2021, an estimated 3.2million pets joined families during lockdown in the UK. It’s a similar story in Europe and the US.

According to data published by the European Pet Food Federation in 2021, 38 percent of households in Europe now own a pet. That is 88 million households.

But with that Cost of Living Crisis and prices will only get worse this winter an extra mouth for feeding be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?

How much does it cost to keep a pet?

There are many hidden costs to owning a pet – it’s a lot more than just buying a few cans of dog food a week. You need to make sure keep her healthy, secure and entertain.

Moneyhelper.org.uk estimated in 2021 that you could expect to earn between €230 and €460 a year just for food, depending on the size of your dog or cat.

Add in things like poop bags, flea treatment, insurance, toys, and health care, and you could be spending anywhere from $58 to $93 a month on your dog, according to the PDSA (The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals).

“Many owners are unaware of the cost of vet bills,” says Merryn Walker, director of kennels, dog adoptions and foster homes at Mayhew, an animal charity in London.

It’s not uncommon for dogs to arrive in Mayhew with lumps that need to be removed or other expensive veterinary necessities.

Although pet insurance may seem costly, it will save you a lot of money when your pet gets sick.

It’s also worth investing in lifetime pet insurance. Although it’s more expensive in the early years than annual policies, the cost doesn’t skyrocket with age.

Also, with annual policies, it can be difficult to find an insurer once your pet has reached old age.

How will the energy crisis affect pets?

UK residents will see their annual household energy bills rise by 80 percent in October, the country’s energy regulator announced on August 26. This follows a record 54 percent increase in April.

It is estimated that this will bring the cost for the average customer from £1,971 (€2,281) a year to £3,549 (€4,108).

The latest energy price cap – the maximum amount gas utilities can charge customers per unit of energy – comes into effect on October 1, right at the start of the cold months.

And the bills are expected to rise again to 4,630 euros in January.

After the price spike in April, animal shelters like Mayhew have seen an increase in the number of people giving up their pets.

“A lot of people are too embarrassed to tell us the real reasons,” said Georgina Costi, cat welfare coordinator at Mayhew.

“But from the people who actually told us that – they quite simply can’t afford to take care of their pet anymore.

“I don’t even remember anyone saying that during COVID. And we definitely had a significant number of them telling us that this year.”

What worries both Georgina and Merryn is that they are seeing the number of people giving up their pets increasing, and also seeing a sharp drop in new owners wanting to adopt.

“Unfortunately, if that continues to increase, we’re going to be stretched to capacity and there will be more and more dogs that we can’t help,” Merryn warns.

Watch the video above to learn more.

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