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Pampered pets escape recession

IT really is a dog's life. Soppy owners are spending more than €1,100 a year pampering, feeding and insuring their pooches.

Around a third of the country's 1.7 million households have a dog, three times more than those who keep a cat.

And despite the pressure on family budgets, the evidence is that spending on dogs and cats is proving recession-proof.

So besotted are people with their pets that many are known to buy Valentine's Day and Christmas presents for them. Some even dip into their savings to pay for their care when incomes are under pressure.

Households that have a cat end up parting with more than €800 a year.

But dogs top cats when it comes to spending, according to a survey by the Consumers' Association.

People with a pooch are typically parting with €1,134 for the pleasure of having the pet.

And forget the idea of a dog's dinner, as the average dog owner is spending close to €500 to feed their pet.

Wet food, dry food and treats all form part of the diet of the average house dog.

And vet bills are another major expenditure, with the cost of vaccinations and having a dog neutered -- along with other procedures -- taking the annual bill to more than €230.

A licence is €20, with pet insurance coming in at €99, according to the research published in 'Consumer Choice' magazine.

And having your pooch cared for in kennels for two weeks while you go on holidays will cost around €200.

The overall cost of caring for a dog excludes any cost of buying the pet.

Although there is little evidence of an overall decline in spending on pets, householders are being urged to shift to economy food.

Premium

The magazine quotes research in the US and New Zealand that questions the need to feed dogs premium pet foods.

Unless your dog has a dietary or health issue, there is little need for high-priced food, the magazine advises.

And bulk buying is also advised.

The value of insuring a pet is also questioned by the Consumers' Association magazine.

International research has found that owners seldom get more paid out to them from their insurer than the premiums they stump up over a 10-year period, unless their pet has a chronic condition.

Cat care costs were put at close to €840 a year, with food, vet bills and insurance the big expenditures.

Just over 200,000 households have a cat, with moggies more prevalent in urban areas.

A total of 640,000 households have one or more dogs, according to separate figures.

Irish Independent