The cost of dogs: how much the UK spends on man’s best friend

February 13, 2018

There are nearly nine million dogs in the UK today and almost a quarter of UK households keep a dog as a beloved pet.

But just how much are we, as a dog-loving nation, willing to spend on our pooches? Here, we’ll look at how much dog ownership costs us in the UK, as well as the growing range of dog-friendly products, venues and services available throughout the country.

A dog’s life in the UK

It’s not news that the average Brit likes dogs — we’re well known for our affinity for animal causes and pet ownership. Typically, UK dog owners will spend in excess of £18,000 on their pooch throughout their pet’s lifetime, according to a study of 2,000 dog owners. This figure includes expenses relating to vet bills, dog food, treats, toys and accessories — just one year of which will amount to approximately £1,384!

About three quarters of pets receive Christmas presents, with the average price of each gift hitting the £19.98 mark, according to a survey carried out by Animal Friends Pet Insurance. What’s more, this is around £5 more than the total amount we spend on our friends!

“The UK is undoubtedly a nation of animal lovers and pet owners are prepared to go to great lengths — and costs — to ensure their companions enjoy a happy and healthy life,” said the chief executive of SPANA, a charity that helps to improve the lives of working animals.

Interestingly, approximately two-fifths of people also claim that they let their pooch sleep on their bed and a quarter admitted to letting them under the covers. As for the typical dog-owning costs per year, these can be broken down as the following:

  • Food: £373
  • Vet costs: £285
  • Insurance: £188
  • Grooming: £150
  • Treats/presents: £146
  • Kennels: £134
  • Accessories: £107

Doggy services

Brits have owned dogs for centuries. However, we’re seeing an interesting shift in how we look after canines in 2018. Today, you can get everything from facials and pedicures to massages and aromatherapy shampoo treatments for your dog. Even in China, dog owners are taking their animals to luxury pet hotels where they can receive stress-busting acupuncture treatments!

Billions of pounds are forked out by owners so that their dogs are groomed, insured and medically sound (i.e. vet bills), according to Pets At Home. But, which pamper sessions do we already treat our dogs to and what can we expect to have available in the future?

How about whisking your pooch off to a special getaway where they can relax and recharge their batteries? In the US, pet resorts are growing in popularity. However, they are pricey — one place in Virginia costs around £750 for an eight-day stay! But, for some owners, offering your dog indoor swimming pools, agility fields, mud bath treatments, indoor walking tracks, and ‘pawicures’ (which can include nail varnish) might be worth the investment. Even in the UK, you can often find plenty of countryside homes, coastal holiday cottages and other vacation venues that are designed for families with pets.

Clearly, there’s a trend for spoiling your dog to the kind of special treatments that humans are able to indulge in. Analysts of the global pet grooming market predict that the industry will grow approximately 4.19% between the years of 2016 and 2020.

Pet products

Amazingly, not even a tenth of those surveyed resented how much they spent on their dog. Today, owners admit to buying their canine best friend a wide range of indulgent products — from gourmet treats (20%) to designer clothing (10%). Many of us will even have bought our dogs bottles of ‘pawsecco’ to let them celebrate the new year with us, while others might have even treated them to a bottle of doggy cologne for Christmas.

But the above is just a short list of the bizarre products available for your dog. Dog treadmills are ideal if you have a small, lazy pooch that doesn’t cope well in damp, cold weather. FitBarks work like FitBits by capturing your pet’s activity and sleeping habits, while dog doorbells make a perfect solution to standing in the chilly doorway as your dog wanders in the back garden. Or why not invest in a smart camera so you can check on your dog when you’re at work?

However, there might be a very simple reason as to why we’re more than happy to spend freely on our dogs. Over four-fifths of dog owners claim that they treat their pets like family — and what better recipient of your loving cash than family?  

Canine venues

So, evidently, most dogs enjoy a brilliant, loved life in the UK with their owners. But, is there anything that they do for us in return? Apparently so. A study into 3.4 million people showed that dog owners had a 33% reduced risk of dying due to cardiovascular disease and an 11% minimised chance of a heart attack.

But why? The answer is most likely increased physical activity and better social contact. Since previous studies have shown that people who reside alone typically are at a higher risk of cardiovascular death, letting our dogs help us socialise is a potential contributor to our appreciation of them.

On that note, how do we make the most of the health advantages our dogs offer? From dog-friendly pubs to pooch-appropriate restaurants; more Brits are choosing to take their dogs with them when they head out to a public place and this should work to make us more active and sociable. DoggiePubs, a non-commercial guide of places where you can dine with your dog, features more than 5,000 places that you can enjoy with your pet, while Scotland recently opened its first residential dog café.

Despite the expense involved with owning a dog, it’s clear that they bring us great joy — and even health benefits. So, perhaps the cost is worth it!


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