The most recent PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report – the longest running annual survey of pet wellbeing in the UK – revealed 30% of owners worry how they’ll pay for vet bills if their furry family member fell ill or became injured.

With the report also detailing that 61% of cats and 39% of dogs are currently uninsured, thousands of owners could find themselves with an unexpected vet bill should the worst happen.

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said: “The cost-of-living crisis is affecting all of us in one way or another, meaning we’re looking for ways to save money wherever we can – and this is no different for costs associated with our pets.

"Veterinary treatments can become costly, so one of the best ways to safeguard your furry friend and avoid unplanned vet bills is by keeping on top of their preventive healthcare.

"The following tactics could help you save in the long-term:

Stay up to date with vaccinations

“While cutting back on annual booster vaccinations or regular flea and worming treatments may seem like saving money in the short-term, it can cause issues down the line. Avoiding these measures can put your pet’s overall health at risk, meaning they may need intensive veterinary care, which can soon add up. Keeping vaccinations up to date provides your furry family member with antibodies to fight off serious but preventable conditions. Using regular flea treatment prevents your pet from developing uncomfortable skin problems, while buying products to treat all types of worms including lungworm, can be lifesaving.

The benefits of neutering

“Neutering your pet will not only prevent unwanted pregnancies, but it also reduces the likelihood of developing certain health issues too, including some types of cancer or life-threatening infection of the uterus which can affect unneutered females. Castrating male dogs helps reduce their risk of prostate disease and stops them from developing testicular cancer. Male cats and dogs are less likely to roam looking for females and male cats are less likely to get into fights if neutered, too.  Up to 80% of unspayed female rabbits will also develop uterine cancer by the time they’re five or older, so the procedure is highly beneficial for pets, big and small.

Watch weight gain

“It’s important to monitor your pet’s weight and take action if you believe they are gaining a few too many pounds – this will help avoid weight related health problems which may require costly lifelong medication. The best way to help your furry friend maintain a healthy weight is by incorporating daily exercise into their routine and ensuring they eat a complete, well-balanced, nutritious diet.

Don’t ignore insurance

“Having the correct insurance plan in place will be vital to avoid expensive bills, should the worst happen.

“There are several types of cover and the monthly cost will depend on a range of factors, including your pet’s breed and age. Cheaper policies are often ‘accident only’ and won’t cover anything illness related. Lifetime cover policies are usually more expensive, however, they do provide cover for any accidents or illnesses (they don’t cover vaccinations or other preventive treatments) as long as the policy is continued, without a break.

“It is a good idea to insure your pet as soon as you bring them home – don’t wait for them to get ill - as pre-existing conditions are not typically covered. If you insure them while they are young and healthy, many providers will continue to cover them as they get older. However, you may find changes to excesses for older pets, so - it’s important to read the policy, so you know what to budget for.

Explore additional resources

“There are lots of free resources available on PDSA’s website, which provide helpful advice and low-cost ways to care for furry family members.

“Personal circumstances can change at any time and if you do find yourself struggling to afford your pet’s veterinary care, see if you are eligible for free or low-cost support by using the eligibility checker on the PDSA website.”

PDSA relies on donations to deliver vital treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK.

To keep families together this winter, the charity is urgently calling on the public’s support more than ever to prevent vulnerable people having to make a truly heart-breaking decision.

To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost-of-living crisis, or to donate, visit