UK, 08 September, 2023: A new study by Experian has found that the cost of owning a dog can be as much as £19,000 . Once the puppy is part of the family the average couple need to set aside almost £1,500 a year to look after their pet.
This comes as research uncovers a surge in dog ownership among young couples (20 – 40-year-olds), who before becoming paw-rents were referred to as DINKs (Double Income No Kids) after trending on social media platform, TikTok. The poll found that almost half (48%) have taken the next step in their relationship to become a DINKWAD (Double Income No Kids With A Dog), with 35% doing so in 2023.
Over a quarter (27%) of DINKWAD couples were shocked to learn how expensive owning a dog is, with one in seven (15%) admitting that they have had to rely on their credit card to cover unexpected costs such as veterinary bills or pet sitting. A further 26% even say it has delayed their plans to have children.
However, almost a third (30%) revealed that the responsibility of dog ownership has actually had a positive impact on their finances, with 29% encouraged to set up a budget to ensure they can afford the extra £121 per month to take care of their furry friend. To help keep costs down, DINKWADs have become thrifty, with one in five (20%) purchasing secondhand dog accessories. Many even decided to get their dog from a shelter (20%), rather than a breeder – helping to reduce the initial financial expenditure.
DINKWADs suggest that getting a dog is not a decision they have taken lightly, with the research revealing it took them an average of eight months to make the decision. In fact, well over half (59%) said that their main consideration was to ensure their lifestyle would align with their dog, while others made sure they could handle the additional monthly outgoings (58%) and have enough savings to cover any unforeseen circumstances (57%).
James Jones, Head of Consumer Affairs at Experian says: “Owning a dog can be fun, rewarding and for many couples becoming a pet parent is the next step in terms of building their relationship. But our research has found that dogs are expensive, and it is important to get a realistic idea of the impact pets can have on your finances.
“We recommend couples look at their monthly income and outgoings before getting a puppy, so that additional stress isn’t added to household budgets when costs have risen elsewhere. Credit cards should only ever be used when a plan can be put in place to repay the money, so don’t factor in the use of a credit card when deciding if now is the right time to get a dog.”
“If you find yourself becoming financially stretched or you and your partner are getting into debt because of pet ownership then look online for guidance and support. There may be ways to budget differently, new brands to consider using in terms of insurance or pet food, and, if necessary, charities that can support with new homes.”
Dr Samantha Gaines, dog welfare expert at the RSPCA, added: “It’s fantastic to hear so many young couples have successfully added a dog to the family - and welcome that many have chosen to take on a rescue dog, especially with our centres sadly full to bursting right now. It's also heartening to know that dogs have helped develop relationships and build families - and even helped many young people with budgeting! Dogs can be amazing for our mental wellbeing, and can be so much fun!
“As owning a dog can be so rewarding, it’s no surprise they are Britain’s most popular pet companion. But it is vital any new owners also understand the scale, and cost, of their new family member and are prepared and able to provide a good quality of life. The time and financial commitment involved in being a pet owner are such important things to consider especially when the average lifespan of a dog is around 12 years.
“We know times are tough right now. Our new Animal Kindness Index further highlighted that the costs of pet ownership are proving a real challenge for many owners. That’s why we’ve launched a new cost of living hub to help those struggling. But for any young couples ready and able to add a dog to their new family, the RSPCA's Find a Pet page is jam-packed with incredible rescue dogs looking for a second chance of forever home happiness."
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Notes to editors:
Nationally representative research carried out by Perspectus Global of 1,000 UK adults, between 20-40 and living with a partner between 23rd – 29th August 2023.
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