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How to plan financially for a new pet

Getting a new pet has proved extremely popular this year – but it’s important to consider the costs.

With people spending more time at home than usual, and perhaps expecting to carry on working from home more often in the future, many have taken the opportunity to get a new pet this year.

Are you financially prepared for the cost of pet-ownership?
Are you financially prepared for the cost of pet-ownership?

And Shona Lowe – private client and corporate director at 1825, a financial planning arm of Standard Life – is one of them.

“It has made me think not just about how to manage broken nights and navigate training, but also how, as a professional adviser, this significant change in circumstances should be properly managed,” says Lowe, who recently got a new puppy called Nugget.

“It’s not just the initial cost that people need to consider,” she adds.

“Dogs can cost up to £30,000 over their lifetime, with things like food, doggy day care, the odd new carpet or piece of furniture, pet insurance and vets bills all adding up to that hefty sum.”

So, what should you be keeping in mind when it comes to being financially prepared for pet-ownership?

Here, Shona outlines four key things to think about…

Shona Lowe from 1825, a financial planning arm of Standard Life
Shona Lowe from 1825, a financial planning arm of Standard Life

1. Don’t forget the ‘extras’

It’s not just as simple as buying a puppy and that being your only cost. Whether you buy or adopt, there are many extras which can easily add up to hundreds of pounds. Vaccinations, microchipping, insurance, a crate, a bed, the lead, toys, ‘puppy-proofing’ your home, cleaning products, gates, food bowls – the list goes on. Make sure you have a list of these and are aware of the total initial cost of the pet and all the extras.

2. Consider the ongoing costs too

You’ll need to factor the ongoing costs into your monthly outgoings. Flea treatments, puppy classes, dog grooming and food – which can get incredibly expensive if you are buying a premium brand. Pet insurance is also an important consideration. If you purchased your pet because you were at home more often, that may not always be the case in the future. Future costs could include ‘doggy day care’. Out-of-hours care can be even more expensive.

Dogs can cost up to £30,000 over their lifetime
Dogs can cost up to £30,000 over their lifetime

3. Set up a ‘poorly pet’ fund

Put aside some extra cash if you can for unexpected expenses. Pets can suddenly become ill or have an accident. While pet insurance should help, there can still be an up-front excess to pay or additional costs further down the line if your pet develops a longer term health issue.

4. Plan for your pet in your will

Many people see their dogs or other pets as family members – so consider what would happen to them if you’re no longer around. Consider who would look after your pet and the costs. As pets are an ongoing financial commitment, the bequest of a pet should hopefully be accompanied by some financial support. If you’re not comfortable handing over a lump sum and hoping it’ll be used on your pet, you could leave money in a trust, with a trusted person managing the money after you’re gone to ensure it’s spent correctly.

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