50 Ways to Save on Pet Expenses

Pet Expense Savings

Ask any pet owner and they’ll tell you the love and companionship of a pet is priceless. Unfortunately, caring for a pet can get pretty expensive. If you are looking to bring a new animal companion into your life or already have a few furry friends, here are 50 ways to keep both them and your wallet happy.

Finding Your New Friend

  1. Avoid pet stores like the plague, their pets are overpriced and come from disreputable sources.
  2. Adopt from a shelter or rescue, you can even find specific breeds for adoption. Check out Petfinder for pets near you. B came into my life courtesy of Petfinder.
  3. Adopt an adult cat or dog. Puppies and kittens require a series of vaccinations, spaying or neutering and housebreaking.
  4. If you insist on a purebred puppy or kitten, only buy from a reputable breeder. Reputable breeders are ones who are active in the dog or cat community, do health testing on their breeding stock and offspring, do not advertise in the newspaper or craigslist, offer lifetime support and have a welcome home policy if you cannot keep your pet.
  5. In general, smaller is cheaper. The price for medications and veterinary care often depends on your pet’s size. A smaller dog eats less, costs less to board etc.
  6. Fish require more money and time than you might imagine. The start up costs are high and you have to pay close attention to your fishes environment or they will perish.

Around the Home

  1. Check craigslist for used dog crates, unwanted kitty condos, aquariums or bird cages.
  2. Protect your house, destructive dogs need to be crated when you’re not home. This will save damage to your stuff and keep Fido from needing emergency surgery after eating the couch.
  3. Protect your dog or cat, just as you would baby proof your home look for in home dangers to your pet like cleaners and poisons. Certain houseplants are poisonous too, check out the SPCA’s list of toxic and non toxic plants.
  4. Fence your yard, this will keep Fido safe and not out running in the street.
  5. Buy a crate sized for when your puppy reaches adulthood, use a box or divider to make it smaller for housebreaking.
  6. Keep your kitty indoors, outdoor cats are more likely to get injured or sick and require additional vaccinations.
  7. Make your own dog or cat bed, there are patterns online to guide you.
  8. Dog beds are nice but your pooch will be just as happy with an old towel or blanket. Old pillows are also good.

austin dog-friendly festivals

Save on Pet Toys & Supplies

  1. Go to a tennis court and collect abandoned tennis balls.
  2. Tie a knot in an old sock. One of my dogs has a huge sock fetish.
  3. Buy stuffed animals from the dollar store or thrift store, make sure there are no plastic eyes or other pieces that could be chewed off and swallowed.
  4. Make a fleece tug toy – buy fleece fabric remnants and cut into strips. Using 3 strips knot one end together, braid and then knot the other end.
  5. Strips of fabric and empty water bottles make great toys.
  6. Rolled up bits of newspaper and aluminum foil will keep kitty entertained.
  7. Dog.com has good prices on toys. Wait for one of their free shipping offers and load up, dole out new toys over the year. They also have inexpensive pet tags.
  8. Don’t spend a lot on stuff puppies and kittens will outgrow like collars, harnesses or clothes.
  9. Use dishes you have on hand for food and water bowls. No need for overpriced bowls from the pet store. Ceramic or stoneware are best, they are durable and don’t cause irritation like some plastic bowls.
  10. Buy kitty litter in bulk, it doesn’t go bad.
  11. Get a scratching post for your kitty to save your furniture, you can make your own with some wood and carpet or rope.
  12. Petedge online has great prices on pet supplies. They mainly sell wholesale so orders less than $60 are hit with a $7 fee, wait till you need a bunch of items or band together with some friends.

Save on Pet Food & Treats

  1. Buy food in bulk, store in an airtight container.
  2. Costco’s Kirkland pet food is both good quality and affordable.
  3. Don’t buy cheap kibble to save money, it has poor nutritional value and is loaded with fillers. Read the label, dogs and cats have a limited ability to digest grains, real meat should be the primary ingredient. Costco’s dog food has chicken and chicken meal as the first two ingredients, that’s a good sign.
  4. Dry kibble is cheaper than canned wet food.
  5. Grow your own catnip. Tie a little in the end of an old sock for a kitty toy.
  6. Bake your own dog biscuits, you can find recipes online.
  7. Don’t overfeed your pet, cats and dogs will quickly become obese. Obesity leads to expensive health problems later.

adopting a shelter animal

Save on Pet Care

  1. Spay or neuter your pet, birthing babies is expensive and it will reduce the risk for certain cancer like mammary tumors.
  2. Ask your local animal shelter about low cost spay and neuter options.
  3. Look for low cost vaccination clinics. Often the shelter or pet supply stores like Petsmart and Petco will sponsor these clinics.
  4. Check out the prices online for medications, flea preventative and heartworm protection. Compare to your vets prices.
  5. Don’t skip vaccinating to save money, parvo in particular is very deadly to puppies. Saving a sick puppy or kitten can cost thousands.
  6. Don’t skip heartworm preventative. Heart worms are deadly and expensive to treat.
  7.  Get your pet its annual checkup. Diseases or problems caught early will be cheaper to treat.
  8. Ask your vet about any discounts they can offer, they are often willing to work with you if money is tight or may have a special plan for routine care.
  9. Be nice to your vet, good customers will receive better care and better discounts. I’ve been given many items for free because we have a good relationship with our vet. Or it might be the loads of money we’ve dropped there already!
  10. Look for a vet school in your area, they often have cheaper services since they are vets in training. They may also be able to provide more specialized services than your local vet.
  11. Learn pet first aid so you don’t have to run to the vet for minor injuries. The Red Cross offers a Pet First Aid course (which I’ve taken).
  12. If you have multiple pets try buying medications or flea treatments meant for a larger sized animal and break it up. For example a heartworm pill meant for a 60 pound dog could be broken in half for 2, 30 pound dogs.
  13. Do your own bathing and grooming. Buy a hand held sprayer for your shower. You can buy clippers to do an all-around trim. Or get a pet that needs minimal grooming!
  14. Do your own nail trims. I’ve started using the Pedi-Paw, no worrying that I’ll cut the quick. I found mine at CVS.
  15. Look into health insurance for your pet, get it while your pet is young before medical issues appear.
  16. Try a pet sitter or dog walker while you are away, it’s generally cheaper than boarding.
  17. Brush your pet’s teeth regularly to avoid expensive dental cleanings later.

Pets are Pricey

Don’t buy or adopt a pet thinking it will be cheap. Beyond the cost of the pet itself there are the necessary supplies. For cats think litter boxes, toys and a cat condo. For dogs there are leashes and collars, beds, crates and toys. Even small animals like rats and rabbits need a home, bedding and something to keep them busy. These initial costs are only the beginning – vet bills, food and the unexpected will easily trump the start up costs. The average dog costs $10,000 over its lifetime to feed and care for, you’ve been warned.

Think Before you Buy

Before falling for Fido, you need to decide if a pet is for you. From the financial side, are you prepared for the cost of a pet? Pets have a way of getting sick when you can least afford it. From the emotional side, do you have time for a pet? I’ve seen a lot of Boston Terriers given up because their people are never home. Most pets thrive with love and attention, ignore them and trouble starts.

There are choices you can make about the type of pet to have for a better fit financially and emotionally. Cats tend to be cheaper than dogs and better able to handle their owners being away. The cost of care for a dog correlates with size, smaller dogs eat less, need smaller doses of medicine and cost less to board. Certain breeds of all types of pets are more prone to aggression or health problems. Fish are expensive because of the special equipment you need to buy. Pets are wonderful, especially when you find one that fits with your budget and lifestyle.

Money & Values

The decision to have a pet is one of those intersections between money and values. I know a few people think I’m crazy for spending what I have on my pets. That’s OK, I think they’re crazy for spending huge amounts on something else. As long as we are not burdening each other with our choices, then we are free to make them.

C has the funniest personality I’ve ever met, his antics make me laugh. He’s always happy to see me and wants nothing more than to curl up and be close. I feel lucky to have him in my life. Beyond the cost in dollars there is a value I can’t measure.

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