Brits fall into debt to afford pet care, as cost of living crisis hits hard
Currently, 62 per cent of households in Britain currently own a pet but a quarter (25 per cent) of pet owners can no longer afford vets, and 18 per cent are falling into debt as a direct result of pet care.
The data is a bellwether for major challenges: personal debt for nearly one-in-five Britons is rising as a direct consequence of pet ownership. The hospitality and retail sector will be impacted as Britons prioritise retaining a pet above their own essentials and luxuries, and a significant minority (eight per cent) are actively considering giving up their animals.
The survey (with 2,500 respondents) was conducted among Pets4Homes users in October 2022, offering insights into the attitudes and spending habits of one of the UK’s largest online communities of pet owners, as well as the specific areas in which they were making cutbacks and whether they would consider bringing more pets home.
What did the survey find?
- Nearly one in 10 (eight per cent) of UK pet owners are considering giving up their pet
- 60 per cent of owners surveyed said that they are now less likely to buy or adopt a new pet
- 18 per cent of Britons are already falling into debt to pay for their animals’ care
- Since the crisis began, 38 per cent of pet owners have made the switch to a cheaper pet food
- 25 per cent of owners said they cannot afford to take their pet to the vets due to costs
- However, of those who have it, 66 per cent said they intend to stay on the same pet insurance scheme
Future impact of the cost-of-living crisis:
- Underlying the British love for animals, 80 per cent of pet owners said that, if it came to it, they would prioritise feeding their pets before themselves
- 70 per cent say they would forgo takeaways
- 54 per cent are willing to cut back on alcohol
- 52 per cent would go without a holiday
- 45 per cent would go without a haircut
- 40 per cent would cancel TV/movie subscriptions
Lee Gibson, UK managing director at Pets4Homes, comments: “The cost of living crisis is already having a major impact on pets and their owners. The current challenges have resulted in a clear end to the boom in pet adoption and rehoming which defined the lockdown period, as cost is discouraging many from seeking a new pet.
“Yet, the crisis is further proving that the international reputation of Britain as a nation of animal-lovers is accurate as ever. Our findings reveal that the majority of UK pet owners will do everything in their power to keep and maintain their pets: already reducing expenditure, and prepared to go to extremes, should it be necessary.
“However, what is alarming is that pet ownership is already causing debt for some, and that nearly one in 10 of us is having to consider giving up our best friends. Beyond the challenge of rehoming such a number of animals, the psychological impact of separation from much-loved animals cannot be underestimated.”