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.
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.