The cost of keeping a pet

What Does It Cost to Keep a Pet?

The cost of keeping a pet might be more than you’ve budgeted for.

Owning a pet can be massively rewarding but unfortunately, it doesn’t come free. Research from PDSA has indicated you should expect your dog to cost you at least £4,500 to £13,000 over their whole lifetime, so it’s no wonder that they feel like such a big part of the family!

There are quite a few costs involved in keeping your pet happy and healthy and they can all add up. Here we take a look at some of the things that you can expect to pay for:


We often think that pet food is the main expense and it’s true that this is one of the things you’ll need to buy on a regular basis. For cats and dogs, food is likely to cost between £200 and £400 a year. (source: The money advice service)

You don’t necessarily need to buy the most expensive food available; the main priority is to make sure that it’s full of high quality ingredients and that it’s nutritious.

There’s something of a pet obesity epidemic in the UK, largely due to pet owners feeding pets on an “on demand” basis (known as “free feeding”) rather than sticking to a controlled number of calories. If you fall into this category, you may find that you’re actually buying more pet food than you need to.

If your pet is a fussy eater or your vet recommends a special prescription diet to meet your pet’s health needs, your food budget may need to go up.


If you get a new puppy or kitten, you need to get them vaccinated. Your initial round of jabs will cost around £100, but you will also need to factor in the annual boosters, which cost about £50.

 Flea & Worming Treatments

Both of these treatments need to be given regularly to keep your pet free from fleas and worms. Flea treatments are generally the more expensive of the two at £10-£15 a month. Worm treatments can cost up to £5 and will only need to be done every 3 months. 

Prescription flea and worm treatment will cost more, but you can save an average of 55%  if you choose to buy them online from Animed Direct.

Pet Insurance

A lot of pet owners don’t buy pet insurance, recent research shows that only 25% of dogs and 13% of cats have pet insurance (Source: ABI, 2020) If you can afford it, you might want to think about having it to protect against big vet bills if your pet falls ill or has an accident. In 2019, the average pet insurance claim was a staggering £822 (Source: ABI, 2020).

 It’s easy to just pick the cheapest pet insurance policy and relax. But it’s important to take some time to consider if that policy would be enough if your pet suddenly developed a lifelong condition.

An annual policy (also known as ‘time-limited’) will only cover your pet for any new illnesses or injuries for 365 days.

lifetime policy offers a far more comprehensive level of cover for your pet. These policies typically offer a fixed amount of veterinary fee cover which will be renewed each policy year. Lifetime cover will ensure that your pet can receive lifelong treatment should they develop a condition such as diabetes or arthritis.

Vet Bills

The reason Pet insurance is so important is because vet bills can be very expensive. An average cost for surgery is £1,500 and for a long term condition like diabetes, treatment costs can add up to £1,400.  Nevertheless, it’s really important to make sure that your pet has regular checkups to help them to stay healthy and highlight any health issues that need treatment or further investigation.


If your pet gets lost, a microchip with up-to-date contact details can help them to find their way back to you. Microchipping is now compulsory for any dog over the 8 weeks old in the UK. It costs between £10- £20, but this ensures that your pet is chipped for the rest of their life.  

All vets offer microchipping. In some cases,  you might find that other places such as rescue centres or dog groomers offer pet microchipping. Make sure if you’re not going to a vet practice that you check the person who microchips your dog is qualified. 


Playtime is a great way to keep your pet mentally stimulated but the cost for all those toys can soon mount up.  It’s difficult to calculate an average cost because toys vary in price, however we can estimate an average spend of £200 to £500 a year. 


Some pets need more grooming than others. Dogs with long or fluffy hair will need regular haircuts. Costs vary depending on the size of the dog, but are usually between £20 for small dogs up to at least £80 for larger dogs.

You don’t necessarily need to use a professional groomer or spend a small fortune on grooming products. In many cases, a good quality grooming brush will last for years and won’t break the bank.


If you don’t have anyone to look after your pet while you’re away, the cost of putting them in a boarding kennel or cattery can soon add up.  Generally, you can expect to pay at least £15 per day for a dog and £10 for a cat. 

Over to you – what are your thoughts on the costs of having a pet? Join in the discussion in the comments section below!