As we navigate through the economic aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis in the UK has hit an all-time high. This economic squeeze is not only affecting human living conditions but also challenging pet owners' abilities to provide optimal care for their animals. This blog aims to provide dog owners with practical, science-backed advice on how to maintain their dogs' health while managing the escalating costs of dog food.
Understanding the Situation
The Office of National Statistics reports a substantial rise in the cost of living in recent months. The annual inflation rate reached 7.9% in May 2023, the fastest rate of increase in four decades¹. Consequently, the cost of pet food has seen a significant surge, with a 31% increase for canned dog food and a 19% rise for dog treats in the past year alone².
Additionally, the price of raw food ingredients like beef and turkey mince has risen by 16% and 14% respectively³. This financial strain poses significant challenges for pet owners, especially those who prefer a raw diet for their dogs.
Economising Your Dog's Diet
Feeding your dog does not have to break the bank. With careful planning and judicious choices, it's possible to provide a balanced and nutritious diet to your dog while working within a budget.
Buy in Bulk: Consider buying dog food in larger quantities, which often comes at a reduced cost per unit. Consider pooling resources with dog owning friends and place a bulk order between you, dividing it up once it arrives.
Utilise Discounts and Coupons: Many pet food manufacturers and retailers offer regular discounts, rewards programs, and coupons. Keep an eye out especially at larger stores such as Pets At Home.
Opt for a Balanced Kibble: High-quality kibble can be an affordable and nutritionally balanced option for dogs. Look for products with a high content of animal protein and limited fillers.
Consider Home-Cooked Meals or a Raw diet: Home-cooked or raw meals can sometimes be a cost-effective way to feed your dog, for example turkey mince prices have risen 14% vs tinned dog food at 31%. Before switching to this option, be sure to consult with a veterinarian or a certified pet nutritionist to ensure the meals are nutritionally balanced.
Taking Advantage of Resources
During these challenging times, several organisations have stepped up to provide support. The RSPCA's Pet Food Bank project collects pet food donations and delivers them to food banks across England and Wales. These resources are invaluable for pet owners who are really struggling during the cost of living crisis.
Balancing Cost and Health
Navigating the cost of living crisis doesn't have to mean compromising your dog's health. Here are some tips:
Don't Skimp on Vet Check-ups: Regular vet visits can help catch potential health issues early, saving money in the long run.
Ensure Proper Nutrition: Even in tough times, providing a balanced diet for your dog is essential. Poor nutrition can lead to health issues and higher vet bills later on.
Stay Informed: Understanding your dog's nutritional needs can help you make informed decisions about their diet. Resources like PDSA's guide to dog nutrition are a good place to start.
The rising cost of living presents a formidable challenge for pet owners. However, with the right information and resources, it's entirely possible to continue providing excellent care and nutrition for your dogs.
By making thoughtful decisions and taking advantage of available resources, you can ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy, even in these difficult times. Above all, please don't be afraid to ask for help. The RSPCA, the PDSA and your local vet will all be good resources to point you in the right direction.
¹: Office of National Statistics - UK Inflation Rates
²: Office of National Statistics - Dog Food Price Index
³: Office of National Statistics - Raw Food Price Index