The Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions have placed a great many people into financial uncertainty and difficulty, and caused many of us to lose sleep worrying about how we’ll make ends meet or manage as things progress further.
If you’re at, or are getting to the point where you’re concerned about your ability to be able to feed your pet or pay for their essentials like veterinary care, you’re probably understandably really worried, and may not know where to turn for help.
This article will share a whole list of things and places to investigate that might be able to help you to bridge the gap or get help to cover the cost of caring for your pet if you’re struggling financially due to Covid-19. Read on to learn more.
First of all, ensure that you’re getting any benefits, subsidies, or financial support you might be entitled to. This might mean jobseeker benefits or furlough, and given the sheer range of different schemes and eligibilities that are and have been in place during the course of the pandemic so far, it is understandable that not everyone who may be entitled to help knows about it.
If you have friends or family who might be able to help you with a loan or some shopping to keep you going, this can be a huge help. It isn’t always easy to admit that you’re struggling even through no fault of your own, but most of us go through lean periods at some point in our lives, and generally people who care about you would rather you spoke up than struggled in silence.
Even if you know friends and family might not be in a position to help financially, simply talking things through can make you feel better, and you might find it generates some practical ideas that can help you too.
Having to speak to your bank, credit card provider or other organisations because you’re struggling to pay them can be daunting too, but banks, mortgage providers and other financial bodies understand the difficult situation many people are in at the moment, and are trying to help.
Payment holidays and similar schemes are available for most lines of credit to allow you to stop making payments for a few months with no damage to your credit rating, so take advantage of the safeguards that are in place to make things a little easier.
Food banks provide a vital lifeline to a large number of people in the UK who are struggling to feed themselves and their families, and many people who work long hours still don’t earn enough to support their needs without them, and there is no stigma in this.
Food banks also understand that people who are short of food for themselves are likely to be short of food for their pets too, and the vast majority of them have pet food available for those in need. Speak to your local food bank and find out if they can help you.
Ordering online is usually cheaper than buying from supermarkets and particularly, vets
If you are looking to cut costs on your usual pet food, ordering online usually costs less like for like than buying in a shop, even if you factor in the delivery cost (if relevant). Shop around too, and look for discount coupons for email newsletter signs ups and so on as these can knock an additional discount off the listed price too.
If you can afford to buy in bulk or share an order with someone, this allows you to benefit from economies of scale when you buy your pet food, and save money over the longer term.
If your pet is insured, this is one expense you should try to maintain as long as you possibly can because if you’re struggling day to day, paying out for veterinary care in an emergency is likely to be an even bigger problem.
If your policy comes due for renewal and you can’t afford it, try switching to monthly instead of annual payment to spread the cost, shopping around for a cheaper alternative, or seeing if there are areas you can reduce coverage level without causing problems to maintain a policy.
Find out about the help available from charities like the RSPCA, UK Cats, Dogs Trust, PDSA, and major national charities
Many of the UK’s major national pet charities including those mentioned above have schemes or protocols in place to help people who need assistance with the financial aspects of caring for their pets, but these can be very variable.
Spay and neutering assistance is available from most of the mentioned charities, and some assist with the cost of veterinary care and potentially other things too.
National pet charities that do offer assistance to people in financial difficulty generally work to a very rigid set of eligibility criteria to ensure they can help those in the greatest need, so check this out and if you are eligible, see what help you can get.
Small, local and independent charities tend to be more financially stretched than the larger ones, but if you’re struggling to feed your pet or buy essentials, they tend to have more leeway and discretion to help you out too.
It is always worth asking, particularly as local charities also have a vested interest in reducing pet surrender and abandonment, which of course increases when people cannot afford to keep their pet.
Your vet might know of specific charities, support funds, or other options that could help you short term if you needed assistance with essentials. Also, if your pet needs treatment and you cannot afford it and Covid is the cause, your vet will work with you to develop a treatment and payment plan to enable you to get the help you need.
Many local areas formed support groups and help exchanges at the start of the pandemic, to assist people with things like getting shopping if they could not get out, and offering a sympathetic ear by phone to people who were isolated.
Many of these also hold funds or donations to use to help local people on a discretionary basis, so look into such groups via social media and local announcements and find out if there’s something available that’s relevant to you.
Having to ask for help with the cost of caring for your pet or providing them with enough food is difficult, even if you’re asking a close family member who you know will rush to your aid. Approaching charities and strangers can be harder still; but we’re living in unprecedented times, and you’re not the only one struggling, and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
Don’t let pride or fear of getting knocked back (and you might find not every suggestion above works for or can help you and you have to try a few) stop you asking for help if you need it. Remember, when things improve for us all in the future (and they will improve) you can pay it forwards, and use your time, money or resources to help other pets and owners in your turn.