Owners pay £3,500 for their new pet

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Pet owners stump up almost £3,500 in the first year of owning their animal, a survey has found.

Costs such as food, bedding, toys, equipment and insurance can see the typical owner of a cat paying around £2,455 per annum, and dog owners paying £4,791 on average.

That said, a horse will see its new owner cough up £12,654, with a fish being considerably more cost-effective at £769 in the first year, even including set-up costs such as a tank and pumps,

Keeping a rabbit is also surprisingly expensive, with a bunny - hutch and all - costing £1,802 in the first year, according to the survey, conducted by Nationwide Home Insurance.

The insurer also noted the potential for extra animal expense - new figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show a record £706 million in pet insurance claims was paid in 2016.

Of those who have claimed on their home insurance due to an accident caused by a pet, 7 per cent said the carpet had been damaged, 5 per cent said sofas and chairs had been damaged and 5 per cent said the TV had been broken.

Rob Angus, Nationwide’s head of general insurance, said: “Owning an animal can be extremely rewarding, but a very expensive experience.

“Given a pet is for life, it’s important to plan ahead and budget for the potential costs involved, otherwise animal ownership could turn into a financial headache.”