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The Cost of Keeping a Pet

Wed 08 October 2014

The Cost of Keeping a Pet

Owning a pet is one of life’s great joys. They bring us companionship, affection, and loyalty, and can be great fun for the whole family. However, deciding to get a pet is a very big responsibility and should never be taken lightly, not least because of how much they can cost.

When you adopt a pet you become its sole provider, and it relies on you for shelter, food, and care. Being able to fund this care is just as important as providing it, as the consequence might mean having to give your pet away, which is going to be very upsetting for both you and your pet.

However, with a bit of planning, and an understanding of how much different pets cost over the course of their lifetime, most people can enjoy the companionship of a loveable, furry friend. Here’s a look at the two most popular household pets in the UK:


  • A pedigree breed can cost many hundreds or even thousands of pounds, but there are always so many puppies and dogs needing homes in the UK, that you may want to consider an adoption shelter or look for local adverts.
  • The initial purchase of the bedding, toys, training pads, and collar etc. can easily add up to a couple of hundred pounds.
  • A month’s supply of food for a medium dog can cost roughly £25 - £40 for a good quality dry kibble, but that can easily rise to £50 or more with treats and extras. A small breed will be cheaper to feed, and large breeds can cost a great deal more.
  • Insurance is a must, as a simple illness or injury can end up costing thousands in vet bills otherwise. Vet bills that you can’t avoid include neutering, and regular vaccinations, but many veterinary surgeries offer loyalty discounts, so look out for these.
  • There are lots of other costs to think of too, such as training classes, new collars and leads, regular flea and worm treatments, new toys, bedding, and grooming.

Estimated annual cost: £1500


  • Just as with dogs, cats and kittens in need of a home are in abundance, and unless you want a fancy purebred variety, you can easily adopt a cat for little or no money.
  • Cats also require an initial purchase of accessories when they come into your home, such as a bed, a carrier, food and water bowls, litter tray, and toys, which similarly can start adding up to over £100.
  • Cats ideally need a mix of wet and dry food each day, with the emphasis on dry, and a quality kibble will cost around £20 - £30 a month, with around £10 - £20 on a decent wet food.
  • Insurance is also essential to avoid excessive vet bills, and just as with dogs, cats will need neutering, regular flea and worm treatments, and vaccinations.

Estimated annual cost: £1000

Other pets

  • Fish are a popular pet in the UK, and though initially expensive to set up, are cheap to keep long-term. A small to medium fish tank of around 60 litres will cost £120 - £200, with accessories costing an extra £20 or £30. For coldwater fish you can eliminate the cost of a heater, but that’s really the only difference.
  • Rabbits and guinea pigs are cheaper to keep than cats and dogs, but still require a fairly large initial cost for housing and equipment. A good size indoor or outdoor hutch can cost £80 and up, and accessories will add a bit on top of that. Rabbits also need a lot of the same treatments as cats, but can also be insured against unexpected vet bills.
  • Hamsters, rats, and gerbils are some of the least expensive pets to keep, with minimal costs after the initial outlay for a suitable cage etc. A hamster cage and extras can be as little as £20 - £30, with larger rat cages getting closer to £80 and up. Other than treats and extras, food can be bought in a complete dry kibble for not much money.