This Morning’s resident vet has shared how dog owners can keep costs down this winter, as many owners send their pets to shelters amid the cost of living crisis. Dr Scott Miller is encouraging owners to keep an eye on how much they’re feeding their pets and reach out to charities – such as the RSPCA and the Blue Cross, if they’re struggling to keep their food bowls topped up.
He told ITV News: “There are some amazing charities that are helping to keep pets healthy and well fed in their own homes. In my 25 years of experience as a clinical practising vet, unfortunately, up to 50 per cent of every pet I see is obese.
“It’s because they are consuming too many calories. A great way to save money is to just cut out treats – either reduce them dramatically or cutting them out entirely.
The RSPCA has reported a stark increase in pet abandonments in recent months due to the cost of living crisis – with a 24 per cent increase this year so far.
A spokeswoman told The Mirror: “We are seeing at the moment a rise in pet abandonments especially as the cost of living crisis bites and we are really concerned about this.”
A report released by the RSPCA in partnership with the Scottish SPCA shows the cost of living crisis is the most urgent threat to pet welfare in the UK.
Their research found 78 per cent of pet owners think the cost of living will impact their animals, almost seven out of 10 (68 per cent) expressed concern that the cost of care was increasing, and a fifth (19 per cent) are worried about how they’ll afford to feed their pets.
The study also showed cat owners seem to be most impacted and concerned about cost of living pressures.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “It certainly is a worrying time for lots of people including pet owners.
“In terms of what people struggling can do, we would encourage people to reach out for help to family, friends, or charities.
“Sadly we are seeing more and more animals coming into our care and many of these have been abandoned, which is never the answer.”
As rescue centres fill up with unwanted pets, the Blue Cross is urging struggling owners to hold onto their animals until new owners come forward to take them in.
Alyson Jones, director of rehoming and fostering services at Blue Cross, told The Mirror: “While we have seen pets being abandoned we don’t know why.
“We would ask pet owners struggling to cope, for any reason, to get in touch with a charity like Blue Cross who may be able to help and if the best decision is to rehome we can find the best match by talking to owners about their pet.
“At Blue Cross we encourage owners rehoming their pet to keep the pet at home until we find the perfect new home.
“We also have a network of voluntary foster carers to care for pets while we find them a home and only place pets in our kennels if they need urgent help and there is nowhere else for them to go so we hope our sites won’t be overwhelmed and we would never put a pet to sleep if all they need is a loving home.”
The animal charity recommends struggling owners try to save on money by swapping their pet’s food to cheaper brands and making them homemade toys when their shop-bought items break.
“With the cost of living crisis expected to worsen over the coming months it is a concern that pet owners may be considering rehoming their pet,” Alyson added.
“There are ways to cut costs on pet care, slowly changing their food to a cheaper brand, making home made toys and treats are a few ways.
“If a pet appears to be unwell or is acting strangely we would urge pet owners not to delay talking to their vet as problems are easier to treat earlier on and not to let a pet suffer if in pain or unwell. Do not treat pets without veterinary advice or search online for solutions.”