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Cost of living crisis forcing pet owners to make 'personal sacrifices', warns vet charity

By Alan Beresford

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NEARLY a third of pet owners in Scotland are making personal sacrifices to provide for their pets, a vet charity has claimed.

The cost of living crisis is forcing many pet owners to make harsh choices.
The cost of living crisis is forcing many pet owners to make harsh choices.

Figures from leading vet charity PDSA, which provides vital care for pets during the cost of living crisis, have revealed that 32 per cent of owners in Scotland are having to make personal sacrifices to ensure they can continue to provide for their pets.

The charity has warned these unsettling findings reflect the stark reality for pet owners, many of whom are being forced to make drastic cutbacks as they desperately struggle to stay afloat.

A worrying 21 per cent of owners in Scotland are cutting back on their weekly food shop, and two per cent even admit to going without necessities, such as skipping meals to afford the costs associated with looking after their beloved companions.

PDSA provides free and low-cost treatment to pets in need and has released the data to raise awareness of the lengths pet owners are having to resort to while navigating the cost of living crisis.

Some 19 per cent are reducing how much fuel they use so they can pay for their pets care. This comes as Google searches for ‘save money on heating’ spiked by a shocking 878 per cent in 2022.

Having juggled expensive bills throughout winter, alongside the soaring cost of living, owners may face a further hit this April. While the energy price cap is being reduced, meaning the amount suppliers can charge goes down, government help – in the form of the energy price guarantee – is set to come to an end. This means a household's energy bills could increase by around £3000 per year.

The looming spring Budget announcement also is not expected to go a long way in easing the strain on UK pet owners’ pockets. The huge hike in everyday living costs means pet owners will continue to struggle with the cost of loving their companions.

Giving up personal luxuries (19 per cent) and cancelling or not going on holidays (nine per cent) are among the other sacrifices owners in Scotland are making to save as much as possible in order to continue caring for their pets.

Thirty-nine per cent of Scottish owners are worried about affording the cost of treatment if their pet should fall ill or be injured. Nationally, a quarter of all pet owners (26 per cent) said they’d go into debt, either with family and friends or via credit and loans, to cover the cost of unexpected veterinary treatment.

PDSA veterinary surgeon Lynne James said: “Everyone wants the best for their pets and hearing the lengths loving owners in Scotland are having to go to so they can continue providing for them is heart-breaking.

“In 2022 we provided veterinary care for over 390,000 pets, whose owners would otherwise have struggled to afford the cost. Now more than ever, the treatment we provide is a lifeline for families who face the horrible decision of eating regular meals or treating their furry family member.

The PDSA treated almost 400,000 animals last year.
The PDSA treated almost 400,000 animals last year.

“It’s PDSA’s mission to keep people and pets together. Last year we helped hundreds of thousands of families. With more than half of those who rely on our services aged 55 and over, and 37 per cent disabled or living with a serious health condition, their pet often provides vital companionship. For lots of our clients, their pets are their only companion, and their lives would be unimaginable without them.

“I’d encourage anyone struggling to afford the cost of veterinary treatment to find out if they are entitled to access our services by visiting the eligibility checker on our website. We also have lots of free advice on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets, while ensuring they remain healthy and happy.”

PDSA relies on donations to deliver life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK. To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost of loving crisis, or to donate, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/costoflovingcrisis

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