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Paws for thought – the hidden £5,000 cost of a dog

It’s National Dog Day – a chance to celebrate and pamper your pooch. But make sure little Fido’s bark isn’t hiding a nasty bite in your finances as the unexpected costs of owning a dog can add up to more than £5,500. Fortunately, there are ways to make sure you’re not chasing your own tail when covering these bills.

Each year dog owners are spending an average of £427 in hidden costs, adding up to £5,551 over a lifetime, according to new figures from Co-operative Insurance.

This is on top of day-to-day spending on your dog.

The most common cause of these extra outlays is unforeseen vet bills, with three quarters of pet owners faced with a poorly animal. Special food and boarding kennels/catteries also added unexpected costs to looking after pets.

Does a dog cost more than a cat?

The average unexpected costs of a cat are a little cheaper at £4,980 in it’s lifetime (£332 a year).

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Surprisingly only one in ten covered these costs through their pet insurance. Four in ten had to take money from their savings while a quarter used a credit card.

Think about the total cost of your dog

If you’ve worked out you can afford to buy a dog, make sure you factor in the other costs. As well as food, what about treats and toys. You’ll need to buy a lead and possibly a bed and coat. If you are buying a puppy there will be some vet bills too, as well as regular check ups..

You might also need to pay for kennels when you go on holiday, or someone to dogsit or walk your four legged friend if you are working late or going out for an evening.

Once you’ve calculated all these expenses, make sure you can manage to pay this each month.


Work out if you need pet insurance

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest extra costs is looking after the health of your dog.

Trips to the vet aren’t cheap, and you may have additional costs such as special food or medicine if they get ill.

Insurance can cover many of these, but you might decide you’d rather meet the costs through your own savings. However, serious or chronic conditions can be very expensive.

As with any insurance you get what you pay for, so make sure you are covered for what you may need. For example some breeds are more likely to get injured than others, and some diseases are hereditary.

Do you need liability cover for your dog? 

If your dog was to injure a person, another animal or property, you could be liable for any costs that come with that. This could add up to thousands of pounds.

If you don’t want full pet insurance, you can buy a separate policy just for this – or you might find you already have cover through your home insurance.

What do you think?

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  • C Bowser / 22 September 2015

    @Mr PM Yearsley
    As a dog owner I think dogs should be licensed, should have DNA profiling so that 'poo' can be linked back to them and should have Public Liability Insurance.
    I also think that Cyclists should be licensed and have insurance as well as Pedestrians.
    All of whom cause or are involved in accidents.

  • David caulson / 22 September 2015

    When my pet dog gets ill I will have him killed. It is fairest way. Just like fox hounds.

  • Steve / 21 September 2015

    It costs alot to look after you dog, particularly when you factor in insurance & grooming etc.

    This site has a great calculator based on the size of your dog....

  • julie monteith / 21 September 2015

    I have two white German shepherd dogs, average out about 200.00 per month . I personally don't have any insurances on my pets, pay for my vets bills when requested, both eat very healthy, , have my love ,warmth and cuddles. They repay me with undivided loyalty and protection. And sloppy kisses when I come home.

  • L Skinner / 21 September 2015

    I am privileged to own 2 retired greyhounds and budget for an average monthly cost of £160 per month which covers insurance, food, vaccinations, parasite control and treats/toys. I would have to pay £50 per night for boarding in suitable kennels. Do not consider owning a dog unless you can afford to insure or have savings to cover emergency vets bills. Do not feed poor quality food as an economy as your dog will suffer later. The positives though, far exceed the financial obligation and my life is richer for sharing with my beautiful hounds.

  • Mr PM Yearsley / 20 September 2015

    Public Liability insurance for dog owners should be mandatory. A friend of mine was knocked down last December by a neighbour's over excited dog running off lead on her estate.
    It slammed into her leg causing a serious fracture and knocking her to the ground. She's not been able to work since. It turned out the dog's owner had no insurance.

  • Maxine Srivastava / 20 September 2015

    To be the Owner of a dog is a pleasure. But, And a big but, the cost of médical visits are proibitive. For years i hád no Insurance. A sérious mistake.
    Pay top dólar for pet coverage. It is certainly worth the cost.