17 Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses

ways to save money on your pets

Owning a pet is a great experience but also an expensive one. Those furry little piles of love can hit your wallet hard. I own an English Bulldog and have quickly discovered that she is what I like to call a “money pit.” Here are 17 ways to save money while still making sure your pet is receiving the adequate care it needs.

17 Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses…

1. Adopt vs. Buy

Immediately after college I started pricing English Bulldog puppies. Needless to say, a newly graduated 20 yr. old can’t exactly afford to blow $800-$2,000 on a dog. I started watching the local dog shelter and, believe it or not, almost instantly a pure bred English Bully came into the facility. I paid a mere $45 for her and could not have been happier. After she passed, I waited a few months and then started my search for another dog. I checked the shelter where I was living and found Xena, my current Bulldog. Xena was slightly more money than my first, but what I paid was nothing compared to what I would have if I had bought from a breeder. I know many people who are against adopting from shelters due to the fact you know almost nothing about the dog’s past or heritage but when you’re on a Spending Fast or just monitoring your spending, adoption is an excellent route to go.

2. Save on Food

Feeding your pet can get expensive! Since my last dog had so many health issues, I did some research and found the healthiest brand of food for Xena’s needs. The only downside is that the 30lb. bag costs around $45! That size bag will last her about 2.5 months, but it is still a lot to pay compared to the grocery store brands. I go online to the webpage of the food company and they have various coupons I can print to get anywhere from 20%-40% off. A tiny bit of effort saves a few dollars! Go to your pet’s food brand website to see if they have similar coupons or offers.

 3. Groom at Home

Paying to get your pet groomed is expensive! If you can handle wrestling your pet a bit, buy a bottle of pet shampoo and bust out the pet comb! My Bulldog sheds an insane amount and it drives me crazy. I have tried changing her food and giving her Omega 3 vitamins (supposed to help with shedding) but nothing worked. I had bought normal pet brushes from the store that swore they would reduce shedding but it was no use. I desperately went online and discovered a product called the Furminator. I watched YouTube videos of people brushing their pets with this product and it seemed a little too good to be true. I visited their website and saw that the price ranges from $35-$50! Holy cow! Since I refuse to pay that much for a dog brush, I started searching the internet and found it on another site for around $16. If your pet sheds a lot or if you have a long-haired pet that usually gets groomed, I would suggest this brush. I have no idea how it works but it has changed my life.

 4. Exercise!

Vet bills are expensive so keep your pet healthy and happy by making sure it gets proper exercise. Not only will this help them stay healthy, it will also help with behavioral issues you my be having. A tired dog is a happy dog.

 5. Stay Current on Shots and Pills

It is much cheaper to pay the little bit now for your pets flea, tick and heart worm prevention than it will be to pay for the vet visit later if they get lyme disease or have heart worms. It’s moderately expensive now but worth it in the long run.

 6. Vet Shop

Before just going to the vet that is closest to your house, call around and compare pricing. I have found from experience that they can range as much as $20 in their visit fees.

 7. Buy Pet Meds Online

Buying your pet’s medicine online is not guaranteed to be a cheaper method but on some meds like flea prevention, buying online can save you a pretty penny.

 8. DIY Toys

Toys from the pet store are ridiculously expensive and, in all honesty, are not always made very well. I have friends who have gone to the local hardware store and bought a huge rope to cut up and use for their puppy. This site has an awesome list of household things you can use to turn into dog toys.

 9. DIY Treats

Dog treats aren’t too terribly expensive but why pay anything for them when you can make them in your own kitchen! This post has some awesome recipes for homemade dog treats. Not only will you save money but you will also be providing your dog with a healthier option. Which could later save on vet bills.

 10. There’s and App for That

In this technology savvy world, someone has created an app called Pet Care Services. If you have a smart phone you can download this app for free and tap into your local pet services. It checks your current location and then shows you all the options for doggie daycare, vets, pet stores, and dog parks, just to name a few. I downloaded it and found there is a dog park a lot closer to my apartment!

11. Think Twice About Pet Insurance

Pet Insurance can seem like a great option, especially if you own a breed that is more susceptible to health issues (*cough* bulldogs), but it may not be the smartest financial route. If your dog is at higher risk for health issues, most pet insurance policies require you to pay a higher premium. Instead, consider opening up a savings account with a decent interest rate. You can put money into that account monthly instead of paying for insurance and still have a hefty amount saved for Fido’s Emergency Fund.

12. Clean Those Chompers

A quick Google search told me that brushing your dog’s teeth daily can add up to four years to their life. How crazy! While I highly doubt most of us will brush our pet’s teeth daily without fail, it is wise to start the habit. Dog toothbrush kits are as low as $5 and could save your pet from a lot of diseases in the future.

 13. Skip the Fashion Trends

If you live in a cold area, your dog will need adequate clothing to keep warm. If you don’t, skip the studded T-shirts, no matter how cute, and put that money to better use.

 14. “Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered.” -Bob Barker

If you adopt a pet then they will most likely be spayed or neutered when you pick them up. If you get a dog that has not been, do so as soon as possible. Puppies are cute but if you are trying to cut down on expenses, spending the money to have them fixed will be a lot less than having to care for a pregnant mama and puppies.

15. Care Credit

I am completely against creating more debt but felt like I should include Care Credit on this list. When I adopted my first bulldog I soon found out that her tail was ingrown (yes, her tail) and she needed surgery. As mentioned before, I was fresh out of college and had no financial smarts yet so I could not afford to pay the $3,000+ that it was going to end up costing me. I discovered Care Credit, a credit card that works solely at vets (there is a human option as well) and has 0% interest as long as you pay your bill within 18 months. I was able to use it for her surgery and pay it off before any interest accrued. It was a great option at the time. Please note though that as with all credit cards, it will show up on your credit check so make sure that is the best option for you.

16. Go Split-sees

If you have a friend who also has a dog than talk about splitting the price of things like food or buying meds in bulk. The larger the bag of dog food, the greater the discount that you receive so splitting the cost with a friend would mean ultimate savings. If you buy pet meds online, it is cheaper in the end to buy in bulk. Go ahead and talk with your friends about combining forces and save some cash!

 17. Vaccinate At Home

Wait, what? That’s right, apparently it is possible to update your dog’s shots from home. I would highly recommend talking with your vet about this or doing some personal research but it seems to be a lot less expensive route to keeping your pet’s shot record up to date.


What ways have you discovered to save money on your pet’s needs?

Chelsea Overton is in the midst of a Spending Fast® and writes about it from North Carolina with her bulldog, Xena the Warrior Princess, by her side. She also has her own website where she logs her journey towards financial freedom. 


30 thoughts on “17 Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses

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  1. Kate

    Care Credit is wonderful. The same card works at both doctors and vets, both my pets and I have benefited greatly from it when the money just wasn’t there when it was needed.

  2. Kara

    Honestly I have to say that I’m very against buying purebread animals of any kind. Anyone who is against adopting shelter/rescue animals because “you don’t know their background” is someone who I will disagree with vehemently.

    First of all, there are so many animals that are in need of good, caring homes and to spend thousands on a purebreed rather than helping those animals that are going to be killed for no reason other than that they are “extraneous” makes me angry.

    Second, it’s proven that mixed breed “mutts” are usually healthier than purebreeds. Purebreed animals nearly always have breed related issues that show up early in their lives and are ongoing health issues for the animal and expenses for their owners.

    I have adopted every animal I’ve ever owned from a shelter or rescue. I have no patience for people who buy livestock.

  3. Kate

    I used Care Credit for my braces when I had to get them again and it was great – paid it off before the interest came due. They even send you reminders to pay off your promotional balances before they expire – no tricky business.

    Also re: pet insurance – my dog had to have two $5,000 surgeries in one year, that both would have been covered by insurance had I had it! She now has a fairly inexpensive policy that also pays partially for routine checkups and vaccines. I would say it’s probably worth it if you can get a reasonable rate – you never know when they’re going to turn too fast while running and rip out a toenail (true story; and he was a hemophiliac!!) or get an eye ulcer requiring same day emergency surgery on a sunday (yes. true story. i swear)

    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      I didn’t it could be used for humans for sure. Thats awesome. They seemed pretty straight forward when I used them. No fees for paying extra payments. About the pet insurance, when I got Xena my bulldog I checked into a few various kinds and their premium for bulldogs was substantially higher than for other breeds. No good! Perhaps when my Spending Freeze is over Ill look into other options. Thanks for the feedback!


  4. The Norwegian Girl

    my family has often given our dogs human food, like cooked chicken and rice, or leftover meat, or some bread, mixed with the expensive dog food. Our dogs aren´t that excited over expensive dog toys, but love playing with cheap goodwill teddybears.

    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      I know lots of dog owners who mix in food like rice or chicken with their dogs food. It’s a great idea for larger breeds who would consume more. And I have to agree, my pup could care less about dog toys. Give her an old T-shirt or a chew bone and she’s set.


  5. Pieliekamais

    My two cents :) – here in Sweden I’d say you definitely, definitely want to insure your pup. What I didn’t know, though, is that we could get a small 10 % discount if we belong to a “working dog” club (which we do). A 5min phone call to the insurance company saved me about 60 bucks a year.
    Toys – it pays to ask around. After throwing away about, umm, 15 chewed to shreds tennis balls, another puppy parent recommended the Hyper Pet ball – it’s proven to be almost indistructible (but we only use it outside).
    Another thing that works for us is to have special toys that the pup only gets to play with as a special treat, only with you, only inside, and she never gets to keep the toy long enough to drag it to her crib and go to town :).
    Now if we could only figure out the teeth brushing thing… I’ve heard there is this micro fiber cloth type of thing that you slip on your index finger and polish the teeth, that sounds so much more realistic than trying to use the pet toothbrush (we have two of those).

    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Thanks for all the good suggestions! About the tooth brushing thing; my vet told me that I can use gauze to wipe off the plaque. Its a super quick alternative if you can’t find time to brush their chompers every day.


  6. Sarah

    Regarding #1… Adoption is always the right choice! If you’re picky about breed, research the local rescues.

    I saved a bunch on my kitten’s vaccinations and spaying by taking advantage of the local SPCA and spay/neuter clinic. Her total bill was less than $100 for all of it!

    1. Chelsea Overton Post author

      Hi Sarah,
      You’re right! I absolutely love adoption. And both times that I have, the pups have been given their shots and fixed before being allowed to head home with me. Talk about a money saver!


    2. Dar Woodhurst

      I understand getting vaccinations at the SPCA & other places, but beware of injection site carcinomas. I take my 4 cats (all rescues) to a CAT DOCTOR ??? Yes I know, not a good way to save money, but cats in a domesticated environment tend to have special needs, even non-purebred cats.

      My friend took her barn cats to a place called spay now, and her one beautiful boy got an injection site carcinoma! Ended up having to take the leg. All because of an inexpensive injection. I believe there was a brand that had this issue more than others.

      Not meaning to say anything negative about those lower cost places, they are great and do a great service for those who need them. I just say be diligent, find out where the vaccines come from, who makes them etc.

  7. Joy

    I love this post! We just brought home a corgi puppy three weeks ago and, yes, it’s been a very expensive time. But we did our research and found a vet who only charges for the vaccines themselves, not the service, so that has cut down on the costs in a major way. We also invested in a dremel tool for her nails and use baby shampoo for her baths, which means we don’t have to take her to the groomer. But I had no idea about the tooth brushing adding 4 years to a dog’s life! We’ll have to get started on that tonight. Thanks for all the great ideas, and best of luck with your bulldog!

  8. Ani

    Look for vets that have free initial visits. When my cat unexpectedly had kittens (literally, she was a stray that we took in and we thought she was just getting nice and plump after some time inside…we didn’t know she was pregnant until the first kitten appeared on the floor. She was spayed very shortly thereafter…), we took each kitten into the vet for their “initial visit” so that we could prep them for adoption. They were really nice about it and we still had to pay for shots and things but it saved us a bunch. Having the kittens all vaccinated and stuff helped us get them into homes within days of being weaned.

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  10. Sarah

    I’ll second your suggestion to call different offices. I ended up choosing the vet in a small town 30 miles from my house. Even factoring in gas, it cut my costs in half.

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  13. Caitlyn

    I am also really against purchasing bred dogs. However, I wanted to add one tip. If you really have your heart set on a certain breed – try contacting a rescue group devoted to that breed. Most breeds have at least one. These groups usually have both purebreds and dogs that clearly exhibit the breed. Not only are you more likely to get the breed you want, these types of rescues can often offer more information about the dog’s background (who surrendered them, if they have any known issues, etc.). Depending on the rescue, their fee may be more than a local shelter, but it will still be less than a breeder and you will be adopting a dog that really needs it instead of supporting a terrible industry.

  14. Erin

    Just a few things I’ve learned to be more aware of since bringing home my third dog, a German Shepherd puppy, and living on my own for a little while:
    Whether you rescue your pet or adopt it, you should really research any known health and behavior problems common to the species or breed(s). This alone can save you a lot of money and heartache.
    If you want a so called “aggressive breed” as far as dogs go, look into which breeds your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance will cover or what extra costs will be applicable.
    Keep your pet’s leashed as well. You could have the nicest, friendliest pet in the world, but that doesn’t mean they can’t/won’t cause personal or property damage that you or your insurance may have to payout for.
    Also keep them leashed for their own safety. Nobody wants to visit the vet for something that could have been prevented.

  15. Kate

    Great tips! I adopted a puppy earlier this year, and it’s good to know that I’m on the right track saving money. I found for the first little bit that my high Target expenses were mostly pet supplies and toys! I like the idea of making your toys, I wouldn’t have thought of that. I usually just go to the dollar store since she goes through stuffed animals and toys so often :)

  16. Alyssa

    We used a Care Credit card for my fiance’s LASIK. Nice to know they have a vet option!

    I’m glad you mentioned adopting a pet. There are sooo many good ones at so many shelters. And, if you’re married to a particular breed, there’s usually a breed specific rescue in your metro area. Plus, for all you frugal folks, it’s really like a 2-for-1. Your adoption fee helps cover the costs for future pets brought into the shelter, AND, when you adopt, that’s leaving a crate open for another dog to come in and get adopted. So, you’re saving two lives :)

  17. Jenny

    Care Credit is a little different than a regular credit card because each merchant sets their own terms. I work for an emergency vet and because of fees, we only offer a 6-month no-interest payment plan. Some dentists and eye doctors offer the 12-month or 18-month no-interests plans, but we do not. That surprises some clients, because they’re used to a credit card that offers the same terms for purchases regardless of where you use it. So be sure to ask your vet what terms they offer for Care Credit!

  18. Kelsie

    Hello! I just stumbled upon your blog and I’m so happy I found it! All of these tips are wonderful to know since I’m about to adopt a bulldog myself! Just curious, what brand of dog food do you buy? We want to get a good brand for him to keep him healthy. Thanks!

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  20. Deborah Frane

    I see quite a few post that seem to bash Purebred dogs. First all dogs deserve a loving home regardless!
    First many don’t realize what reputable responsible breeders do to insure a healthy dog. We have our dog’s health certified with OFA.org for hips, eyes, heart, elbows etc. which you don’t have with Shelter dogs. We spend a lot of time finding the best mate to help insure healthy puppies. We spend $$$ proving our dogs conformation and other events i.e. Field Trials, Hunt Test, Agility, etc. Many test their puppies for conformation and disposition at 8 weeks of age to insure they go the a home that is best suited. We also have in our contract that for any reason we will take the dog back at anytime in their life. Responsible Breeder’s puppies do not end up in Shelters. It is up to the person seeking a puppy or dog to do their homework. To insure you have contacted a responsible breeder who has a contract, sends you an application for a puppy, has you come to their home to meet the Dam or maybe Sire and Dam of your puppy. If you find a website with a click to reserve your puppy with a PayPal or deposit DON’T DO IT. If you are looking to save money on your pet make sure you start with a puppy who has a genetic line of health clearances and a breeder who will take that puppy back if there is an issue. These are the differences between a responsibly bred dog and a rescue dog that has no health history.

    1. Anna Newell Jones

      Thank you very much for sharing your feedback and such valuable information. You have great arguments for responsible breeders. And as you said, they deserve a loving home always.


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