Owning a pet comes with many expenses: veterinary care, food, beds, toys, treats and grooming. However, there are many ways to save money on everyday expenses so you stay within your budget and enjoy your furry friend.
It always happens at the worst times. Your dog eats a poisonous plant or your cat chokes on a hairball and needs emergency vet care. These types of visits can cost hundreds of dollars. Ideally, pet owners would have savings to cover these expenses (this will usually be cheaper overall), but that’s not always possible.
Investing in a pet insurance plan is a good way to plan for the unexpected. Similar to a human health insurance plan, you pay a monthly premium, which covers various illnesses, vaccinations and emergency situations. It helps to shop around, though, because each plan has different limitations and exclusions.
If you have been a loyal customer at your vet for many years (and finding the right vet is the most important step), you may want to inquire about a discount. Many vets are happy to offer a 15 percent discount to customers who are having financial difficulties. If your vet does not offer a discount, perhaps you may be able to set up a payment plan. This would be cheaper in the long run than using a credit card and paying interest.
Another way to save on veterinary care is to schedule annual preventative visits and keep current on vaccinations. Your pet’s health can change dramatically in just one year’s time. During these visits, the vet can diagnose any health problems early on before they become serious (and expensive). Treating your dogs and cats with monthly flea, tick and heartworm medications can also prevent costly medical issues.
You can also shop around when in need of medical care for your pet. Vets tend to be competitive, so it doesn’t hurt to compare prices of several vets in the area. In addition, you may want to check out veterinary services offered by animal shelters and vet schools. They may not offer all the services your local vet does, but you are bound to save money on some procedures.
Keeping your pet at a healthy weight can prevent diseases from occurring and therefore save money. Packing on the pounds can lead to diabetes, arthritis and other diseases than can be costly to maintain. Since these diseases cannot be cured, medications, treatments and possibly surgery will be needed to treat the symptoms.
Don’t save money by buying the cheapest pet food because it will cost you more in the long run. Cheaper foods offer very little nutrition, so you have to feed your pet more than usual. High-quality foods are more expensive, but they are packed with nutrients, so you use a smaller amount to feed your dog or cat.
You can save money on food by looking for coupons for your favorite brands. In addition, pet stores such as Petco and Petsmart offer reward programs to save even more money. You may also want to ask about discounts for buying in bulk. For example, some stores will offer a 15-20 percent discount for buying a minimum number of pounds of dog food in one shopping trip (such as 100 or 200 pounds).
Regardless of the pet purchase, never forget to check for online coupons.
Groom and train yourself
Hiring someone to groom and train your dog can be costly. Take the time to learn how to do these tasks yourself and save hundreds of dollars. Some breeds of dogs require monthly trips to the groomer. Instead, find a dog that requires very little grooming or find a video or instructional guide online that shows you how to groom your own dog. Daily brushing can also help with the grooming process.
Do not try to save money on training by not offering your dog any. Without obedience training, your dog is likely to injure himself or others, resulting in costly vet bills or worse, a lawsuit. Skip the expense of a dog trainer with DVDs or free online training.
Keep pets indoors
Cats and dogs are more likely to stay safe when indoors. Many dangers, from poisons to cars, lurk outside. At best, these situations call for emergency vet visits. Therefore, aim to keep your pets indoors at least some of the time. When outdoors, keep dogs fenced up or on a leash.
Forego the luxuries
Stick to basic needs for your dog or cat. It may be fun to dress them up in Halloween costumes or other things, but pets don’t need clothes, and most likely will not like being dressed in them. Along the same line, your pet’s bed doesn’t need to be lined in crystals or have a fancy pattern. You can forget the $50 rope toy as well. Your dog will probably have it chewed up in less than an hour anyway. Most dogs are happy with a tennis ball or rawhide chew. Don’t feel the need to spoil your pets with fancy toys or other items. Save the money for food, vet care and other necessities.