Allowable expenses for professional dog walkers (UK)

a screenshot of a sa100 form for self employed tax returns in the uk

As a newly registered self-employed person you may not be aware of all the things you can put down as expenses when it comes to filling in your tax return each year. I certainly didn’t realise I could claim laundry expenses when I started!

Let’s take a look at what you can claim and how that affects your tax bill*

What is an expense and how does it reduce my tax bill?

Expenses are anything that you only spent money on because you run your business. It’s a really good way of thinking about it because then, every time you buy something and wonder if you could claim it you can ask yourself; “If I didn’t own my business, would I have bought this?”

Contrary to popular belief you don’t get your money back for expenses. We always talk about ‘claiming expenses’ which can give the wrong impression.

Instead, what we do is tell the tax man how much we spent on expenses during the last tax year (April 6th to April 5th the following year… no, I don’t know why they can’t just do January 1st either)

The tax man (HMRC) then looks at your income (every penny you earned that year) and takes off your expenses (everything you spent on running your business) and they work out your tax based on what money is left over.

Tax Example

If you earned £20,000 that year, and your expenses were £5,000 then you will only be taxed on the £15,000. As of now, the personal tax allowance is £12,570 (this is what you can earn before you pay tax).

So £15,000 minus £12,570 is £2,430.

The basic rate of tax is 20%.

20% of £2,430 is £486 so you’ll pay £486 tax that year.

If you hadn’t claimed any expenses then your tax bill would have been higher.

No expenses claimed would mean the whole £20,000 minus your personal allowance of £12,570 is £7,430

20% of £7,430 is £1,486. A whole thousand pounds more!

So you can see from this example that for every £1000 of expenses you claim, your tax bill reduces by £200, so it’s really important to claim for everything you can.

What can I claim in expenses?

That’s the maths out of the way, let’s take a look at what you can actually claim as a professional dog walker.

Clothing and Footwear

The HMRC states that you can claim for uniforms and protective clothing as a business expense.

Branded clothing

This means that any branded clothing can be claimed for. So if you can wear it and it’s been printed or embroidered with your business name then you can add it as an expense. This includes t shirts, hoodies, hats, trousers and jackets.

Protective clothing

Protective clothing includes waterproof outerwear. Remember that the rules are that if you only bought it because you run your business then it’s an expense. Would you really have bought a pair of Berghaus Deluge overtrousers (the best waterproof trousers I’ve ever owned) if you didn’t work as a dog walker?

Because it’s classed as protective clothing it doesn’t need to be branded with your business name.

Boots and Footwear

Boots have always been a debatable expense. Would you have bought a pair of boots anyway? If you’re honest the answer is probably yes because you own a dog right?

But… would you have worn down those boots as quickly or done as many miles if you weren’t a dog walker? No, of course not.

I never claim for the first pair of boots in the year, but I claim for every subsequent pair. Or, if you’re spending a lot of money on high end boot that will last more than a year then I would suggest claiming every other

Mobile Phone

If you have a second phone that you only use for work then 100% of the purchase price and monthly plan costs can be claimed as expenses.

If you just use one phone then a reasonable percentage of your usage can be claimed. If you’re working full time as a dog walker then a 50/50 split (claim half of your costs each month) is reasonable. Only working part time? Then go for something closer to 25%

Household Costs

Yes, you can absolutely claim the costs of working from home and those laundry bills for all the muddy towels and the washing of your uniform and protective clothing.

Simplified expenses allow you to claim a flat rate each month depending on the hours you work from home.

You’re probably thinking that you don’t work from home right? Wrong!

Uploading client’s pics to social media, washing those muddy towels, drying them, doing your books, doing new contracts for clients, taking phone calls when you’re at home, cleaning your vehicle etc. All these things mount up.

You have to work from home a minimum of 25 hours a month to claim the flat rate, that’s less than an hour per day doing all the above and you can claim £10 per month (figure correct as of June 2023, check here for the current rates for working from home expenses)

Business Insurance

Not only can you claim for your public liability insurance, but also the extra amount you had to pay on your car insurance in order to be covered for business use.


Printer for contracts, printer ink, letters, stamps, key cutting, key tags, software (pet sitting diary software and accounts software or app fees), subscriptions to professional organisations (like the pet professional guild UK) are all claimable expenses.


Yes, you can claim for any training courses, books or professional organisation fees as long as they relate to your current job (we explain in depth in this article about claiming training fees)

Don’t forget to renew your canine first aid at least every three years.


Treats and leads, crates, bowls, fans, boot driers, towels, vet bedding, poo bags, cleaning stuff for your vehicle, first aid kits (you and the dogs), seat covers…remember, ask yourself ‘would I be buying this if I didn’t have my business’.


Personalised number plates? Would you have bought it if you weren’t a dog walker? Advertising, flyers, business cards, website costs, Facebook advertising, local paper adverts, the cost of embroidering your logo onto your work wear, the stand you hired at the local dog show, the professional photo shoot you had for your website pics, claim it.

Business Account Bank charges

If you choose to have a business bank account and you go with a bank that has a monthly charge, this is an expense you can claim for.

However, both Starling and Tide banks have free business accounts on offer which will save you even more in the long run. I highly recommend Starling bank which I have used for years now.

Mileage vs Vehicle Expenses

I like to keep things simple and use the simplified expenses option of claiming 45p for every mile travelled which is intended to cover your fuel, insurance and wear and tear.

The other option is to get complicated and add up all your actual costs. So keeping all the fuel receipts, the cost of your insurance, road tax, mot, repairs and tyres etc.

The good news is that the HMRC has a checker that will work out whether it’s more cost effective to do one or the other. You can access this checker here.

Don’t forget any tolls and parking charges too.

What you can’t claim for

And now for the bad news.

You can’t claim any parking fines or speeding fines even if you were working at the time.

Training courses for new skills as explained in our other comprehensive guide to training expenses here. (Training courses to improve your current skills are allowed)

Food is not something you can claim for despite being out of the house all day.

The cost of food and drink that you buy when travelling outside of your normal work pattern or daily commute is an allowable business expense though so if you have an unusual day, be sure to claim it.

I.e. Normal busy day and you grab lunch from a BP station, not allowable.

Unusual day when you transport a dog for a client over some distance, or take a dog to a wedding and they didn’t feed you (humph!) claim away!

I hope that makes things a little simpler and gives you some ideas regarding items you may not have thought to claim for. Remember, don’t stress too much about it, it’s rare for the HMRC to audit a small business so just stick to the rules and you’ll be fine.

*The advice in this article applies to sole traders using simplified expenses. If you’re a limited company please get professional advice from an accountant.


The dog walking coach website is supported by our visitors. Some of the product links on this website are through affiliate schemes such as Amazon. This means that I earn a small commission if you choose to purchase something at no extra cost to yourself.

Scroll to Top