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“Over the last two years we have seen an increasing demand for dog food in food banks as more families turn to them for help,” says Carolyn Bointon, from Rugeley, Staffordshire, who set up online marketplace The Happy Dog Store during the pandemic. 

“We know families are struggling with cost of living rises and some will face giving up their pet to be able to put food on the table. We want to try to prevent this from happening by ensuring food banks have access to dog food. We have provided more than 2,000kgs of kibble but we are increasingly being asked for more.”

Bointon has links with animal rescue centres and confirms that they are struggling to take in the number of dogs that they are being asked to rehome. 

“It’s not just the ‘traditional’ food bank clients who are struggling,” she adds. “I have been told of a number of executive level clients looking for help. It’s hitting sectors that have never been affected before.”

In Manchester, Sheffield and Grimsby, charity Blue Cross has set up special pet food banks and hopes to expand them across the country. But for some, even this isn’t enough. “We are seeing pets being signed over because people are simply no longer able to afford to care for them,” says a spokesman.

Vet bills and insurance are having an impact, too. Research by pet finance site Gather found that on average, pet insurance premiums have jumped by 35.8 per cent over the past five years, plus owners still have to pay for routine check-ups and vaccinations on top.

Saving money without compromising your pet’s health and happiness isn’t impossible, however. According to Blue Cross, pet foods that are labelled “complete” and approved by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) are just as good as pricier versions. A report from Which? found that an own-brand 3kg bag of complete dry dog food, was just 76p per kg, compared to nearer £5 per kg for the top brand, saving owners £130 a year. Any commercially manufactured dog food in the UK that meets PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturing Association) guidelines will contain complete nutritional requirements for pets, adds the British Veterinary Association. 

“Another way is to complement 5-20 per cent of their food with some of the pure meat or vegetables left over from our own meals,” says James Lawson, CEO of IPN pet foods.

“However, you must make sure that the foods are not dangerous to your pets. Apps like ‘can dogs eat it?’ can be useful. If you’re not sure, though, it is best not to risk it.”

It’s also worth accepting that regardless of what Instagram petfluencers suggest, pets don’t need fancy beds – an old pillow and a moth-eaten cardigan will be fine. Better still, your lap. 


Five ways to save money on pet food  

Andrea Knowles, personal finance expert at vouchers.co.uk

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