Are you ready for the cost of having a pet?

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Naomi Caine

Naomi CaineDoes your child pester for a pet? If so, it’s pester power like no other. But I urge you to resist. For a start, anyone who gives in will very soon spend far too much time dog walking, hutch cleaning or cat grooming, depending on the pet. What? You thought your child would take responsibility? Are you insane?

You will also have to make arrangements for the animal when you go on holiday or even a day out. And let’s face it, you already have enough to organise, what with packed lunches and train tickets.

Last but not least, you will have to fork out a fortune. The cost of a pet obviously depends on the animal. A dog is more expensive than a guinea pig. A horse is out of the question for all but the most wealthy and committed.

Let’s for a moment imagine that you agree to buy a dog. If you decide against a rescue moggy, a pedigree breed could cost upwards of £400.

But that’s only the beginning…

Pet costs broken down

You will probably have to neuter your pet. Then there are vaccinations as well as worming and flea treatments. The RSPCA also recommends that you microchip your dog so that it can be traced if it is lost or stolen.

Feeding bowls, bed, brushes, lead, collar, toys, training aids – the modern hound comes with almost as many accessories as a Beckham baby. So budget for at least £100, more if you want a designer dog with a diamante collar.

Food could cost about £400 a year depending on the size of the dog. Then there’s the kennels. If you need to put your dog in kennels while you are on holiday, you can expect to pay about £200 for a two-week stay.

Veterinary fees cost a small fortune, so pet insurance is a good idea. Premiums start at about £6 a month, but depend on a number of factors including the breed and age of your pet. Don’t forget that almost all policies come with an excess, which is the amount you have to pay towards each claim.

Dog, rabbit… or goldfish?

family petsAll in all, a dog is likely to cost in the region of £1,183 a year, according to Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance. A typical dog lives for 13 years, so it adds up to quite a lot of cash.

Cats are less expensive. Rabbits and guinea pigs are even cheaper. But the cost can still mount up – and is it really money well spent?

If you really can’t resist the pet pester power, the best advice is to choose an animal that isn’t much trouble and is unlikely to live very long. Goldfish anyone?

Naomi Caine was editor of The Sunday Times Money section for six years before she moved out of London to bring up a young family. She now juggles two children with a freelance career, and has written for a variety of publications, including MSN, Yahoo, The Times, The Sunday Times, Which? Money, Money Week and The Sunday Herald.