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It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas, especially when it comes to trying to make your kids happy on the day. If they’ve been pestering you all year long for a puppy, you may think that Christmas is the perfect time to surprise them with their own pet. But you need to think further than the day itself – dogs can be expensive (as can most pets) so you need to make sure you can afford the commitment of caring for one.

The expense

According to recent reports over the course of a pet’s average lifetime (this is 11 years on average for a dog) a pet owner will spend £20,900 on their dog. These costs include food, insurance, vet treatments as well as accessories and grooming.

To make sure you understand not only the expense but the responsibility of bringing a dog into your home, let’s take a closer look at some of the things you should consider:

Pet insurance

You might be thinking of cutting the cost of having a dog by not taking out any pet insurance, but this could work out more expensive in the long run. As there’s no NHS vet that you can go to when your dog’s not feeling well, you’ll leave yourself open to forking out for the usual vet charge – on average around £300.This charge can vary depending on the type of procedure your dog needs.

You don’t have to spend a lot on pet insurance. You can choose from basic, mid-level or high cover and the price of pet insurance will vary depending on where you live, as well as your pet’s breed and age. There are even a couple of things that you can do to reduce your insurance costs as well, including neutering your dog (if you’re on means-tested benefits you could do this through the Dog’s Trust), insuring it when it’s young and healthy and getting it microchipped.

If you can’t afford insurance or veterinary bills and are on a low income, you could take your pets to the following animal charities for treatment:


People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals (PSDA)

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA)

Scotland or Northern Ireland

Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA)

Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (USPCA)

Keep up with jabs

Another thing that you’ll need to keep on top of when it comes to your new pet is their jabs. Although it’s another expense to contend with, this will hopefully mean that your pet won’t need to fall back on an insurance claim or require you to fork out for vet treatment.

Keep in mind – some insurance policies will refuse to pay out if an illness could have been prevented by vaccination.


From April 2016 all dogs in England, Wales and Scotland must be microchipped and registered to a database by the time they are 8 weeks old. The Dogs Trust is currently offering free micro chipping – but otherwise it usually costs £25-30.

Choosing the right pet

When it comes to picking the perfect pet for your family, opting for a mixed breed could help you to reduce costs. This is because they’re cheaper than pedigrees and cost less over their lifetime as they’re less expected to suffer genetic health disorders. You could save further by adopting one from a rescue centre rather than buying one.

We hope this blog has given you a better idea of the true cost of buying a dog this Christmas. For more information about bringing a new puppy into your home, see the Dog’s Trust website.

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