Remember to budget for your pet’s needs

Hamster

Puppies and kittens have long been Christmas favourites for British families and make delightful presents for children. However, they soon grow up and need to be cared and provided for adequately. We look at some of the financial implications of your new pet.

Usually it isn't long before any pet becomes a part of the family. However, pets have their own needs that can prove a little costly, especially after the big Christmas spend.

Your Christmas pet may still be just a puppy or a kitten now but that will soon change, and so will its needs. In less than a year you will have a fully grown dog or cat. If it is a dog you should start to consider training. This is a significant extra cost but will ensure that your dog is obedient and well behaved.

Also factor in the day-to-day costs of owning a pet. They not be eating much now but their appetites will soon grow. It is estimated that the average dog costs its owner well over £6,000 over a 12-year life to feed. This does not include vet bills, toys, treats, kennel/bed and the other costs associated with keeping a dog. Basically, you can think about budgeting at least £1,000 a year to keep a dog. If your a cat person it won't be much cheaper, about £700 a year.

These costs just cover the basic needs. Things like neutering, micro-chipping and pet passports will add to the bills.

In truth, this is a small price to pay for the joy a dog or a cat can bring a family. However, it is important to be prepared for the costs and factor it into your monthly household budget.

You should also consider looking for a good insurance policy that will cover costs if your pet becomes ill, or in the unlikely event it is stolen.

“Pet insurance needn't be expensive, but it can provide your pet with the essential care it needs in case it is injured or becomes ill. Vet bills can be very expensive, so insurance can save a lot of money in the long run,” says David Doulton, director at Fair Investment Company.

Pet insurance policies vary from one provider to another, and can be bought from established insurance providers or are even available at the local supermarket, so it is important to compare the different deals on the market.

Some only cover vet bills for the first 12 months after treatment, while others implement no time limitations. For complete peace of mind, some providers cover the costs of advertising and a reward if a pet is lost or stolen.

You should also keep an eye on the maximum amount the insurance company will pay out per year or per treatment; whether costs of injury or damage caused by the pet are covered; and if dental health in included. Some providers even offer counselling if a pet passes away.

As with most insurance products, the level of cover ranges from basic to comprehensive and insurers offer a choice of optional extras.

“New pet owners should remember that after the excitement of Christmas has worn off, the animal will still need care and attention. Pet insurance can ensure your pet will get the treatment it needs so that its new family can enjoy it for many Christmases to come,” said Mr Doulton.

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