What to do if you can’t afford your pet any more

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What happens when you can’t afford your pet? An animal Welfare charity has said is has received 4000 calls from people wanting to give up their pet (as reported this week 13 Feb 2023). That is double what it had received last year. Shelters have reportedly been receiving more and more unwanted animals as the cost of living crisis affects millions across the UK. The SPCA have specified that the cost of living crisis is nearly solely to blame for this crisis in animal rehoming. 

As fuel and bill prices rise along with grocery costs, many people just can’t justify spending money on an animal as well. 

Jo Evans, who manages a shelter for the RSPCA near Exeter, told the BBC that people are struggling to pay for vet bills: “We are beginning to see people say they just can’t afford to own an animal so they have to rehome it,” said Evans, before noting that people should take the time to understand the cost involved before they take on a new pet. 

According to Pet Keen, an estimated 2.7 million animals a year in the UK are being taken in by shelters: mostly dogs and cats but also fish and small mammals, which is financially stretching the shelters. And with the cost of living crisis, the problems are piling up. 


Lockdown pets

In 2020, as the pandemic took hold, millions of households in the UK bought or adopted a new pet. For some, this seemed a good idea because they faced working from home for the indefinite future.

But since 2021, more than three million households have given up animals. Dr. Samantha Graines, a welfare expert for the RSPCA, told  “We understand that circumstances can change and, sometimes, this leaves families having to make the heartbreaking decision to give up their pets.

However, we also know that animals are often signed over to charities, rehomed, or even abandoned because people took on a pet without the necessary research or appreciation of the responsibility and commitment.”


Financial help

There are several ways you could consider getting a helping hand raising some money to help you keep your pet, and many supporters out there who’d be keen to get involved.


While it’s the responsibility of pet owners to ensure they can afford any veterinary treatment their pets may require, sometimes people fall on hard times, and vert fees, especially for unplanned emergencies, can be a real concern.

Here are some charities who may be able to help with the cost of veterinary treatment:


To qualify for free or subsidised treatment, pet owners must be in receipt of certain benefits, such as housing benefit or council tax support, and live within the catchment area of a PDSA hospital or clinic.


3. Blue Cross

Blue Cross operates in England and Wales, providing means-tested support to low-income families who live in the catchment area of its hospitals or clinics.

4. Dogs Trust

Dogs Trust provides free and subsidised treatments to pet owners who are homeless or in a housing crisis. The scheme runs in 112 towns and cities across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

5. Cats Protection

Cats Protection offers financial assistance to cash-strapped owners wishing to spay or neuter their cat. Unfortunately, they don’t offer further assistance with veterinary procedures or bills.

6. Local charities and organisations

There are also several independent charities which offer help with veterinary expenses. Speak to your daytime vet to find out about those local to you.


You could also consider starting a CROWDFUNDER CAMPAIGN, as there are potentially thousands of people out there who may be sympathetic to your plight, particularly when it comes to our animal friends.

RSPCA advice

Sometimes giving up a pet is the right thing to do, but it can be distressing for you and them, so it needs to be done carefully. Give your pet the best chance of finding a happy home:

  • Contact the original seller to see if they would be willing to take your pet back.
  • Contact a charity or rescue centre experienced in matching each pet with the right owner.

If your local RSPCA branch can’t help, other charities are often able to. There are many organisations that can help you rehome your dog or cat. They all have different procedures, so research carefully before giving them a pet you’re no longer able to care for. 


giving up a dog you’re no longer able to care for

can't afford my pet dog

Below are some charities that may help you rehome your dog:

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