With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, love is in the air, and love for our pets is no exception!
Our pets really are our best friends; they are great companions, help to improve our mental health, and bring us a whole heap of joy! While the benefits of owning a furry friend seem to be endless, the reality is that caring for them over their lifetime can cost more than we may imagine.
But there are ways you can show your furry friend some love on a budget this year!
PDSA research shows that the minimum lifetime cost of owning a dog can start at £5,000 for a very small dog but can cost considerably more. With the UK cost of living crisis very much a hot topic of conversation, pet owners up and down the country may already feel worried about how to best care for their pets as everyday essential costs keep going up.
PDSA Vet nurse, Nina Downing, said: “While we always want the best for our pets, it’s important to remember that they won’t notice or appreciate that there is a cost of living increase. We don’t like to think that our pet could get poorly or injured, but if they do, we can show how much we love them by making sure they have access to veterinary care. When money is tight, unexpected vet bills can be so worrying, but thankfully having pet insurance in place can be a genuine life saver. At times like this, keep in mind our furry friends are also happiest and healthiest when their welfare needs are met and their humans are close by.”
Spend more time together
Spending quality time with your pet is priceless, yet it is often what brings them the most joy! This is because our pet’s overall well-being can improve when they share our company and their social needs are met.
Spending plenty of time with your pet each day lowers their risk of developing any behavioural traits that can stem from loneliness and boredom. More often than not, pets love nothing more than spending time with their owner and they enjoy any opportunity to have that family time. When a pet feels lonely, they can develop unwanted behaviours such as toileting in the home, barking and whining, they may even chew things they shouldn’t or be destructive – all of which can impact on their happiness as well as yours.
Learn how to groom your pet at home
With the average cost of a dog grooming appointment in the UK totalling around £43*, and with some breeds needing regular grooming, learning how to groom your pet at home can save you a lot of money. Brushing their fur regularly and knowing how to clip their nails safely are examples of activities that you can carry out at home and are quite easy, once you’ve got to grips with it.
Cost-saving aside, grooming your pet is also a fantastic bonding activity and has many other health benefits too. Brushing helps to distribute natural oils found within your animal’s coat. Grooming your pet also gives you the chance to check for any skin problems that, if left to develop, could potentially result in expensive veterinary bills later down the line.
Ideally, you should be brushing your pet daily, every other day, or every week (depending on the species and breed) to encourage healthy hair growth and improve blood circulation. If your pet isn’t used to being groomed, start slowly and gently, rewarding treats if they remain calm. Stop if they seem uncomfortable at any point and try again later when they’re more settled.
Rotate your pet’s favourite toys
While toys are great for playtime and keeping boredom at bay, your pet doesn’t need loads of them! Try rotating different toys by keeping some back and bringing them out. Make playtime fun by re-using the same toy for different games – for example, use them for a game of fetch, then try hiding them under or behind an object for your pet to find.
Toys are a great way to keep your pet active and busy. For example, throwing a toy for your dog to chase and retrieve will help to keep them fit – just avoid using sticks as these can cause nasty injuries and balls that are too small or squash down easily as these can be a choking hazard.
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity providing a vital service for pets across the UK whose owners struggle to afford treatment costs for their sick and injured pets. For many vulnerable pets, PDSA is there to help when there is nowhere else for their owners to turn. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information. www.pdsa.org.uk