After tackling the problem of pet obesity with Compare the Market we’ve come up with a new calculator for you at this festive time of year. Every single year people still buy pets as Christmas gifts and sadly, every single year, shortly afterwards many of those presents end up getting jettisoned into adoption centres because people didn’t realise what kind of commitment they were taking on. The PDSA tells people to research their future pets using PETS – place, exercise, time and spend. It’s a good way to think about what your lifestyle is like and whether you can actually properly provide for the needs of a pet. It’s important to ask yourself these questions and more importantly you have to be honest with yourself! Every year the PDSA produce their PAW report that looks at pet wellbeing across the UK. It makes fascinating reading but also shows up worrying facts. This year’s report shows that 13% of people did ZERO research before taking on a dog. This is absolute madness. Dogs can make the most amazing companions and bring untold happiness and benefits to a family BUT pick the wrong dog for your lifestyle, or in some case any dog, and you could have a total disaster. Lack of exercise can lead to animals being bored, frustrated and in many cases badly behaved. 1/3 of dogs only get one walk a day and shockingly 93,000 dogs NEVER get walked at all. Don’t be one of these owners please. One of the biggest reasons for animals getting neglected or given away is cost and it’s something that people very, very commonly underestimate. This year’s PAW report found that over two-thirds of people underestimate the lifetime cost of a dog, the absolute minimum being around £6,500. The higher lifetime costs range from £12,000-£17,000 depending on the size of dog. These are not insignificant amounts of money and you need to be sure you can afford it. If you’re unlucky the potential lifetime cost can be as high as £33,000! Not surprisingly almost everyone asked what the potential cost of a dog could be underestimated it. So, with all this in mind Compare the Market and I have made you a dog cost calculator for dozens of the most popular breeds. We’ve looked at annual costs including the initial price of the dog and average lifetime costs linked to life expectancy. There are also some pointers to the absolute minimums of time you’ll need to spend exercising your dog and a few common problems to consider for each one too. Before you get a dog, or any pet, speak to a vet first and foremost for advice about health and which breeds to avoid. Picking a breed with fewer common illnesses, or preferably a mongrel, will help keep your costs down. Please also remember my Pet Detective series of books. Instead of giving an animal for Christmas or a birthday give one of the books instead and help reduce the likelihood of the pet being given away by getting someone to find out all the facts first. So if you’ve been thinking about a certain breed of dog or even if you have a dog already and you’re wondering how much he or she might cost you have a look at Not Just for Christmas. You might be surprised!