Cost of Living Statement

24 October 2022

PDSA Vet Lynne James said: “PDSA is the vet charity for pets in need. We understand that it is often the people in society who are the most in need who need the love and companionship of a pet the most. This is why we believe no pet should have to suffer pain or ill-health as a result of financial hardship.

“In 2021, we provided essential – and often life-saving – veterinary treatment to more than 370,000 pets across our 48 Pet Hospitals, bringing peace of mind to over 320,000 owners.

“The rising cost of living is a huge cause of concern for households across the UK. The number of people claiming Universal Credit was at its highest level of the year in September – over 5.7 million people – and as a result the number of pet owners needing our charity services may grow.

“Our 2022 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report – conducted back in March - found that 30 percent of UK pet owners were already worried about how they’ll pay for vet bills if their pet becomes ill or is injured. As people increasingly find themselves struggling to meet the soaring price of fuel, food, and utility bills, the situation is only going to get worse.

“While these concerns and difficulties are shared by many, they are felt even more keenly by people on benefits and low wages, or those receiving pensions, who rely on the support of PDSA. Over a quarter (28 percent) of people we help are retired, and nearly a third (32 percent) are disabled, have long term illnesses or are carers.

“Before taking on any pet, we advise prospective owners to do thorough research into how they can provide for their needs, including looking into the costs involved in pet ownership. Expenses including food, preventive healthcare, accessories, and insurance can quickly add up, and that’s without unexpected vet bills should your pet become unwell or be involved in an accident.

“We estimate that owners should expect to spend a minimum of £5,000 over the lifetime of a small dog but, depending on the breed, size and lifespan, this could rise to at least £12,200. For cats, the minimum expected lifetime cost is £11,100, while caring for a pair of rabbits is estimated to cost at least £6,300 - £9,100, depending on their lifespan and whether they live indoors or out. These are the estimated costs needed to provide for your pet’s essential welfare needs, and do not include medical costs, or additional care such as dog walking, grooming or pet boarding.

“However, these are uncertain times and not every eventuality can be planned for. People’s circumstances can change without warning and through no fault of their own. And if the worst happens, PDSA is here to help. Our charity helps pets and their owners who are in need, and we remain endlessly grateful for the ongoing donations we receive to support our work.

“We would encourage anyone struggling to cover the cost of veterinary treatments to find out if they are entitled to access our services by visiting the eligibility checker on our website. We also have lots of free advice online on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets, while ensuring they remain healthy and happy.”

PDSA eligibility checker:

Cutting the cost of pet care:

Cost of living concerns for pet owners:

  • 30% of pet owners (6.7 million pets) are worried about how they’ll pay for vet bills if their pet falls ill or gets injured
  • 9% of owners (2 million pets) said that they would have to consider rehoming their pet if they were not able to afford vet bills
  • There has been a 51% rise in owners searching for charity support with their pet’s veterinary needs


Cost of pet ownership:

  • Minimum lifetime cost of owning a small dog (eg. Jack Russell) – £5,000 - £9,600 (based on average lifespan of 7.1 – 14.2 years)
  • Minimum lifetime cost of owning a medium dog (eg. Springer Spaniel) – £6,600 - £10,400 (based on average life expectancy of 8.4 – 13.5 years)
  • Minimum lifetime cost of owning a large dog (eg. Labrador) – £5,400 - £12,200 (based on average life expectancy of 5.5 – 13.1 years)
  • Minimum lifetime cost of owning a cat – £11,100 (based on average life expectancy of 14 years)

Will you give to help people and pets in need?

As the cost of living rises, vet bills can be the final straw. Thousands of loving pet owners are facing an impossible choice to heat their home or treat their sick pet.

Find out more

The PAW Report

Over the last 12 years, the annual PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report has surveyed a nationally representative sample of the UK's dog, cat and rabbit owners to find out how they are providing for their pet's welfare needs and reliably estimate pet populations.

Read our latest report