More than 80% of UK dog owners spend more than the national average on veterinary treatments, according to a new study.
The results from a survey of 4,500 UK dog lovers and owners revealed that, in some cases, the cost of veterinary care was higher than the price of food and other items that dogs might need for their own care.
A survey by charity Shelter found that a large majority of owners surveyed said they spent more than half their money on veterinary costs, up from just over half the time last year.
Some of the most expensive items included a £500 vet bill for a new pooch, £400 for a dog that is ill, and £100 for a litter.
The average spend on veterinary care is £5,000 a year, Shelter said.
Some costs included expensive antibiotics and tests that are not covered by the vets’ licence fee.
One in three respondents said they were “very happy” with their veterinary bill.
However, the survey also revealed that dog owners with higher incomes had the most money to spend.
Those earning more than £50,000 spent an average of £1,600 a year on veterinary bills, compared with £1 in the lowest income group.
The survey also found that owners of Labrador retrievers and Doberman pinschers, which are bred for strength and agility, were also spending a higher amount of money than owners of small dogs.
In contrast, owners of Staffordshire bull terriers and bull terrier mixes were spending less on veterinary fees, and owners of miniature breeds were spending the least.
The figures come as the government prepares to announce a new set of dog-related subsidies and incentives, including a £10 discount for pet owners who buy a new puppy, a £1 discount for owners who keep their dogs for a year and a £5 discount for anyone buying a new dog.
But Shelter chief executive Chris Williamson said the survey revealed that people with more expensive pets were still paying a “significant amount” for the services they receive.
“As well as the increased costs of owning and caring for a pet, a significant amount of people with pets have to contend with a range of issues, including being unable to travel to work, finding accommodation, dealing with pet-related incidents, and paying for veterinary treatment,” he said.
“This is a significant financial burden for many people, and it’s important that the Government works with the industry to ensure everyone is getting the help they need.”
The survey of dog owners was carried out by Shelter and published on Tuesday.
The charity said it had also launched a website to help people find the best value for money for their pet.
Shelter is calling on the Government to support the industry by ensuring that people can buy and keep their pet at the best possible price, regardless of the cost to them.
The Government must consider a new ‘Pet and Vet’ scheme for those who can afford it, it said.
Selling pets and fostering them for human care is already illegal in the UK.
In addition, breeders and breeders of animals are also banned from selling their own stock in the EU.
Sellers are also prohibited from breeding or raising puppies for human consumption.