Figures from leading vet charity PDSA, which is providing vital care for pets during the cost of living crisis, have revealed that four million pet owners (almost 18%) are making savings on their weekly food shop to ensure they can continue to provide for their pets.
A similar proportion of people (16%, or 3.7 million pet owners) are reducing their energy consumption to cut costs so they can continue to care for their pet1. This comes as Google searches for ‘save money on heating’ spiked by a shocking 878% in 2022.
PDSA has warned these unsettling findings reflect the stark reality for pet owners, many of whom are being forced to make drastic cutbacks as they desperately struggle to stay afloat.
Meanwhile, as many as 770,000 owners are even going without necessities, including skipping meals, to keep money aside to afford the costs associated with looking after their four-legged friends1.
Having juggled expensive bills throughout winter, alongside the soaring cost of living, owners may face a further hit this April. While the energy price cap is being reduced, meaning the amount suppliers can charge goes down, government help – in the form of the energy price guarantee – is set to come to an end. This means a household’s energy bills could increase by around £3,000.
The looming spring budget announcement also isn’t expected to go a long way in easing the strain on UK pet owners’ pockets. The huge hike in everyday living costs means pet owners will continue to struggle with the cost of loving their companions.
The owners of four million pets across the UK are giving up personal luxuries as the cost of living crisis rages on, while two millions pets’ families are cancelling or not going on holiday to save as much money as possible to continue caring for their pets1.
Nearly half (47%) of owners are worried about affording the cost of treatment if their pet should fall ill or be injured – making PDSA’s support crucial1. A quarter of all pet owners (26%) said they would go into debt3, either with family and friends or via credit and loans, to cover the cost of unexpected vet treatment1.
PDSA Veterinary Surgeon, Lynne James, said: “Everyone wants the best for their pets and hearing the lengths loving owners are having to go to during the cost of living crisis so they can continue providing for them is heart-breaking.
“In 2022 we provided veterinary care for over 390,000 pets, whose owners would otherwise have struggled to afford the cost and may even have had to resort to other options such as rehoming. Now more than ever, the treatment we provide is a lifeline for families who face the horrible decision of being able to eat regular meals or provide their furry family member with their usual necessities.
“It’s PDSA’s mission to keep people and pets together. Last year we helped more than 330,000 pet owners. With more than half of those who rely on our services aged 55 and over, and 37% disabled or living with a serious health condition, their pet often provides vital companionship. For lots of our clients, their pets are their only companion, and their lives would be unimaginable without them.
“I’d encourage anyone struggling to afford the cost of veterinary treatment to find out if they are entitled to access our services by visiting the eligibility checker on our website. We also have lots of free advice on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets, while ensuring they remain healthy and happy.”
PDSA relies on donations to deliver life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK. To help keep pets and people together, the charity is urgently calling on the public’s support to prevent vulnerable people having to make a truly heart-breaking decision. To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost of loving crisis, or to donate, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/costoflovingcrisis.
 Figures taken from the PAW Report survey 2023 undertaken by YouGov. Total sample size for the pet owners’ survey was 5,507 dog, cat and rabbit owners aged 18+ who live in the UK. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23rd December 2022 and 18th January 2023. The survey was carried out online using YouGov’s panel methodology. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK population by pet species (cat, dog or rabbit owners) and the owner’s gender, age and region. Extrapolations to pet population figures are based on the following estimates of pet populations in the UK from the 2021 survey: 11 million pet cats, 11 million pet dogs and 1.1 million pet rabbits. YouGov Plc abide by the MRS Code of Conduct and are ESOMAR corporate members, registered with the ICO and fully compliant with GDPR and the Data Protection Act. They are also founding members of the British Polling Council. More information on YouGov’s commitments to privacy and security, including their ISO certificates etc, can be found here: https://corporate.yougov.com/compliance/privacy-security/our-approach-to-security/
 Pet owners who said that the main way they would pay for an unexpected vet bill would be by borrowing from family / friends, using a credit card, loan or overdraft, or through a payment plan with their vet practice.