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Cost of Living Crisis for Pet Owners

Cost of Living Crisis for Pet Owners


As the ongoing cost-of-living crisis is rising in the US and beyond, many pet owners are facing financial hardship. Some of them are taking the difficult decision to surrender their pets to animal shelters, or even worse, to abandon them. When people face financial challenges, they may find it difficult to meet the financial demands of owning and caring for pets.

Ways in which the cost-of-living crisis can affect pet owners and their pets include:

Basic Equipment

The cost of pet food, toys and enrichment, furniture, grooming supplies, and other essential items can become a burden for pet owners during the cost-of-living crisis.

Veterinary Expenses

Veterinary services, including routine checks, vaccinations, emergency care, and medication can be costly. During times of financial strain, pet owners can have difficulties paying for these services, potentially leading to neglected healthcare for their pets.


Still too many property owners do not accept pets and accommodations that allow pets can come at a higher cost. In some cases, pet owners facing financial difficulties may need to downsize their living arrangements or move to more affordable homes, which may limit their options for pet-friendly housing.

Pet Care Services

If pet owners are facing longer working hours or business trips, they might need to rely on pet daycare, dog walker, cat sitter or boarding facilities to care for their pets. These services can add to the financial burden during times of economic crisis.

Dog License Course

In some countries a dog handler certificate/license is required to walk a dog off leash or to adopt a dog. Usually, dog schools, municipalities or animal shelters offer this course and certification for dog owners and future dog owners. In some cases, a theoretical and practical exam is required depending on the legislation in the country.

Taxes and Permits

Dog registry and tax fees are additional expenses that can strain an owner’s budget costs. If a dog is a so-called dangerous breed, it will very often have to be registered as per the national legislation.

Identification and Registration

In many countries identification and registration of pets is required by national/local legislation and this always comes with additional costs.

Unforseen Expenses

Unexpected medical issues or accidents involving pets can put additional strain on a tight budget. Emergency veterinary care can be extremely expensive, and pet owners can struggle to afford these unforeseen expenses during a cost-of-living crisis.

FOUR PAWS advises pet owners to tackle rising costs by considering the following tips:

Changing Food and Looking for Discounts

Researching which shops (including online stores), are selling pet food, treats, or health care goods at a discounted price, can help you to save money, especially when stocking up in bulk for the long run. If stored well, these products do not spoil easily. Expensive food also does not always necessarily mean high quality food, therefore comparing pet food brands and their labels to find one that provides the optimal nutrition for your pets can also help reduce costs.

Preparing Homemade Pet Food

Cooking yourself is an easy way, and not just for two-legged friends, to eat wholesome food and save money at the same time. If you prepare food for your dog or cat yourself, you are doing something good for them and your budget.

Local Assistance Programs

In some places, pet food is available at local animal welfare organizations, shelters, or even food banks support with free pet food for owners and pets in need. These programs can help alleviate some of the financial strain from you.

Pet Health Insurance

If your pet is injured or suddenly becomes ill, you can be faced with unexpectedly high veterinary bills. A pet health insurance can protect you from financial burden in case of veterinary costs for surgery or ongoing medication. Pet health insurance is available in different price categories, so it helps to research which pet health insurance is best considering individual needs. Additionally, it is also worth researching organizations that may offer promotions for free or lower costs veterinary consultations if you are concerned about your pet’s health. Preventive check-ups and regular vaccination boosters should not be skipped as this could be putting your pet's health at risk.

Acquiring Affordable Pet Toys and Enrichment

While it is good to do physical exercise with your pet and provide mental stimulation through training and enrichment, it is not necessary to buy expensive toys or equipment. There are many online resources about how to make low-cost enrichment that keeps your pets entertained. Also, instead of investing in new toys, you can invest, if possible, in spending more time to play or train with your pet. Search games or practicing new tricks can strengthen the bond between pet owner and pet.

Budgeting and Prioritizing

Reviewing expenses and finding ways to allocate funds specifically for pet care can help to manage your costs. Identifying essential needs and seeking cost-effective alternatives can also make a difference.

Community Support

Engaging with local communities or online forums dedicated to pet owners can provide valuable advice, resources, and even opportunities for temporary pet care when needed. Pet sitters and dog walkers can be expensive, in communities with multiple pet owners, reaching out to the neighbors might benefit everybody: pet owners can try setting up a community group that looks after each other’s pets. That way, they know their pet is well taken care of.

Abandoning A Pet Should Never Be An Option

The impact of surrendering a pet to a shelter, or worse, abandoning a pet, has an enormous impact on both the animal and the pet owner. Taking animals away from their environment and family and bringing them to a shelter is a stressful and traumatic experience for them. If you as a pet owner are facing financial hardship, you can seek advice and help from animal welfare organizations, vets, friends and family, your local community, and the authorities. 

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