Money Wellness
Image of a dog looking at a bowl of food. Cost of living affecting animals. What help is available for pet owners who can't afford vets or food
category iconcost of living
calendar icon15 Feb 2024

Our furry friends are also feeling cost of living pinch

In April last year, a can of dog food cost 79p on average. That same can will now set you back £1.05 – a huge 32% increase.

Dog treats have gone up from £1.65 to £1.93 over the past 12 months.

81% of pet owners say they’re feeling the pinch from rising food prices. And a quarter (23%) are worried about feeding their pets – up 19% from 2022.

The cost of living has resulted in 30% of pet owners being worried about being able to care properly for their pets.

But just four in ten (38%) have changed their behaviour because of financial pressures. Of those who have, about one quarter believe their animals have suffered as a result.

Heartbreakingly, just under 1% have made the difficult decision to put their pet to sleep because they can no longer afford to look after them.

Gen Z pet owners are struggling the most, with only 73% of 14 year olds having registered their pet with a vet – compared to 90% of those aged over 55.

And the majority (53%) of young pet owners have had to change their behaviour due to financial pressure, while the same is true for just 28% of those aged over 55.

The rising cost of keeping pets has led to a boom in DIY pet care, with the RSPCA saying there has been a 14% increase in people Googling terms such as ‘can I give my dog a paracetamol’.

What’s a pet food bank?

Pet food banks work in the same way as food banks for humans – they provide free food and other pet supplies to people in financial hardship.

Check out interactive maps at the RSPCA and Blue Cross to find your nearest pet food bank.

What happens if you can’t afford a vet for your pet?

If your pet is unwell or injured, it will need help and care from a professional vet.

Unfortunately, there’s no free treatment for sick pets.

Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your vet about your situation and explain what you can and can’t afford.

They might be able to offer you a range of treatments some of which might be cheaper.

They might also be able to offer payment plans through a third-party credit company to help you spread the cost.

It’s also worth shopping around when it comes to choosing a vet. Vet fees can vary from practice to practice and some even offer low-cost services for low-income households.

You might also be able to find a not-for-profit clinic through websites, such as Animal Trust.

Some charities also offer help to those in financial hardship by either providing money towards treatment or offering cut price treatment in their own clinics. As a first port of call, you could try the following charities to see what support you qualify for:


Cats Protection

Dogs Trust


Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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