How much damage do pets really cause?

When it comes to home improvements, we've all got our pet peeves. But one of the biggest issues has to be the tail of destruction unleashed by our furry friends, costing homeowners over £627m on repairs.

Let's take a look at which troublesome pets are leaving nearly one in four pet owners over £200 paw-er.

Three quarters of Brits have experienced pet-related damage

Of the 2,000+ homeowners we surveyed, a whopping 75% admitted to their pets causing chaos at home.

Soiled carpets and flooring was the most popular way for all kinds of pets to wreak havoc, with 50% of homeowners reporting issues with their pets spoiling their carpet or floor. 32% of pet parents experienced money burning a hole in their pocket thanks to damage to their sofa, with pets chewing furniture or belongings. While slightly rarer, one in ten pet owners said their pets had caused electrical damage too.

The cost of undoing the damage

Our research shows that 60% of pet owners spend up to £200 on repairs, with a huge number of people left with eye watering repair bills of over £1,000.

In some ways it's good news for dog and cat owners, with just 5% and 4% of owners respectively stating they spent more than £1,000 fixing damage caused by their pet. Half of mice owners spend more than £1,000 fixing damage, with a staggering 20% of pigeon owners in the same boat.

And, while hamsters are less likely to cause damage in the first place, our stats show they'll cause significant damage if they do decide to cause chaos.

Prepare for the unexpected

Unexpected repair costs can come out of nowhere, so it's a good idea to have a little bit of money set aside. Here are some top tips to help you start saving money:

  • Take part in a savings challenge. Finding a fun way to save can keep you motivated.
  • Set yourself a clear savings goal so you have a specific figure to work towards, rather than just setting aside money as and when you remember.
  • Seek out discounts and deals where you can. For example, could you earn cashback when you shop? 
  • Track your spending so you can spot easy ways to cut down, such as cancelling subscriptions you no longer use or getting a better deal on things like insurance. 
  • Set a spending limit. Whether you're going on a shopping trip, out for a meal or jetting off on holiday, it's a good idea to set a budget (and stick to it) to ensure you're not spending more than you can afford.
  • Tackle your debts, prioritising paying off high-interest debt first. Depending on your individual circumstances, a debt consolidation loan could help to make your debt easier to manage.

Of course, there are many different ways to fund your home improvements - including taking out a loan to make unexpected costs that little bit more manageable. But experts suggest you should have enough money saved up to cover at least three months' worth of living expenses just in case. This 'emergency fund' could come in handy if you do end up facing costly pet-related repairs.

Which pets are causing cat-astrophe?

Two of the most popular pets in Britain are leaving their beloved owners chasing their tails to pay for damages. The nation's cat owners face a collective repair bill of £279m, with dog owners forking out over £348m

What percentage of people say their pet has caused damage?

  • 100% of mice owners
  • 83% of rabbit owners
  • 82% of cat owners
  • 80% of lizard owners
  • 77% of dog owners 
  • 75% of gerbil owners
  • 64% of guinea pig owners
  • 54% of hamster owners

So if you're looking for hassle-free pet ownership, you may wish to choose a less destructive animal such as a guinea pig - though watch out for mice or rabbits! 

Top tips to pet-proof your home

While you can't keep an eye on your animals 24/7, there are some simple tips to keep your pets safe, happy and enriched - and less likely to run riot in the house. 

  • Move anything valuable, sentimental or potentially dangerous out of your pet's sightline (or wag-line). 
  • Create a sanctuary for your pet to snooze in - this could be a cosy corner of the room or a crate if they're crate trained. If they're feeling anxious, it will give them a safe spot to retreat to. 
  • Don't leave your pet unattended for too long. For example, it's recommended not to leave dogs alone for more than four hours a day.
  • Make sure your pet has had plenty of exercise and enrichment. If they're bored, they're far more likely to be destructive. 
  • Consider investing in a rug for hardwood flooring or throws for your sofa to prevent scratches.
  • Set boundaries. There may be places or areas of the house you don't want your pet to go - be consistent and train your pet so they know where they can and can't venture.
  • Eliminate any underlying health issues. If you're worried about your pet's behaviour, it's worth checking in with your vet to make sure there's nothing else going on. 

Does DIY come to the rescue?

From ripped carpets to chewed wiring, repairing the damage caused by our peevish pals can be costly... particularly if you call the pros in. 

Nearly one in five people (19%) say they have started to improve their DIY skills as a result of damage caused by their pet.

We know from past research that 66% of Brits aren't confident enough to undertake DIY projects without outside help... so could your furry friend actually be helping you on your way to becoming a home improvement extraordinaire?

For some pet owners, the answer's simple: reconfigure your home to mitigate the damage caused by any chaotic creatures.

A whopping 32% of homeowners (rising to 49% for those who live in London) have reworked the design of their home to suit their pampered pooches, fussy felines or other adored animals. That equates to over 2 million homeowners ready and raring to reconfigure their property to keep their unruly pets in check!

Ready to make some big changes?

A low-cost personal loan could support you. With Novuna Personal Finance, you could borrow between £1,000 and £35,000 at competitive rates from 7.4% (£7,500-£25,000). 

Whether you fancy mixing things up to make your home a pet-friendly paradise, or you need to fix a DIY disaster, a loan could help you to spread the cost and make the payments more manageable. 

About our study

We surveyed over 2,000 homeowners aged 23 to 50 to shed light on the damage caused by pets in the home. 

Respondents were invited to provide an estimated figure of the financial cost (£GBP) to them as a result of damage caused by their pets. The £627,750m figure was calculated by scaling the percentage of homeowners within our research group who cited damage of over £1000 caused by cats and dogs, using the average number of UK households (ONS) to estimate the cost of repairs.


Written by

Shaun Harper

Shaun Harper is a digital marketing professional with a successful track record in helping brands connect and resonate with their audience. Specialising in digital marketing strategy, Shaun undertakes a wide range of activities, from crafting compelling copy to designing eye-catching graphics and crunching data, so no two days are quite the same! In his spare time, he finds solace in exploring the great outdoors, exercising, dining out and cherishing moments with his friends and family.

Friday 15th March 2024