More pet owners searching online for DIY remedies to avoid vet bills

The Rising Trend of DIY Pet Care Amid Soaring Vet Costs

In a bid to navigate the escalating expenses associated with veterinary care, a growing number of British pet owners are resorting to online searches for do-it-yourself remedies for their pets.
Our revealing study has highlighted this trend, indicating that a worrying one in five, or about 5.1 million UK pet owners, are voicing concerns over their financial capability to sustain their pets’ needs. This concern comes at a time when the RSPCA has flagged that rescue centres are operating at full capacity, signalling a critical issue in pet welfare and owner affordability.

The Search for Over-The-Counter Remedies

Amidst these financial pressures, some pet owners are exploring the option of treating their pets’ ailments at home using human medications, a route that carries significant risks. Origin’s investigation into this trend revealed that monthly, over 35,000 individuals in the UK seek online guidance about the safety of administering over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as antihistamines, painkillers, and remedies for colds and flu, to their pets.


Among these searches, antihistamines, commonly sought for allergy treatment, emerge as a top query. Searches for specific questions like “can my dog have Loratadine?” have seen a dramatic increase of 300 percent. However, the administration of human antihistamines to pets should be approached with caution. The PDSA vet charity emphasizes the importance of professional veterinary consultation before giving any such medication to pets. This step ensures the correct allergens are identified, and the right treatment and dosage are prescribed, avoiding the risks associated with potentially harmful ingredients.


Painkillers represent another category of human medications frequently queried by pet owners concerned about their pets’ well-being. The search data indicates a significant level of interest in the safety of giving pets medications like paracetamol, ibuprofen, and aspirin. The potential dangers associated with these medications, especially when not administered under veterinary supervision, are considerable. Paracetamol, for example, can be fatal to dogs if given in incorrect dosages or to those with certain pre-existing conditions, and it’s entirely unsuitable for cats due to their inability to metabolize it.

The Need for Professional Guidance

At Origin, we highly recommend securing veterinary consultation for safe and appropriate treatment and to explore resources like the RSPCA’s website for advice on managing veterinary care costs and accessing financial support.

Conclusion: Prioritising Pet Health Over Cost-Saving Measures

This deep dive into the practice of administering human medications to pets underscores the critical need for professional veterinary advice before proceeding with any form of treatment at home. While the intention to save on veterinary costs is understandable, the health and safety of pets must remain the utmost priority, ensuring that financial savings do not come at the expense of our beloved animals’ well-being.


A seed list of search queries related to pet owners seeking to give their animals human medicines was created by using the search listening tool Answer the Public.
Related search terms for each medicine, including popular brand names, were then analysed using Google Keyword Planner to identify the average number of searches per month over the past 12 months, and year-on-year growth (March ’23-’24).

Photo by Jay Wennington on PuppyHero.

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