We’re all looking for ways to save some money. If you currently have a pet, you probably already know the expenses they can incur and while we want to take the utmost care of our furry friends, we also don’t want to break the bank in the process. Here are a few practical ways to reduce some of your spending in pet care costs:
Learn to groom your pet yourself. Let’s face it, dogs and long-haired cats need to be groomed regularly, but this isn’t necessarily a difficult task. Most people are probably capable of bathing their dog (get a sprayer for your bathtub to make this easier). Invest in some good grooming tools (Dremel has a tool that is specific to nails, Furminator is great for reducing fur). Grab an instructional book/video at the library to guide you and grooming can be enjoyable and a bonding experience for you and your pet as well as saving some cash!
Feed your pet quality food. Yes, it is more expensive upfront, but healthier for your pet and results in fewer vet bills in the long-run. Often cheaper pet food has fillers and sometimes ingredients that aren’t healthy for our pets. Pets have very specific nutritional needs (very different from ours) and thus their diet should accommodate these needs.
Buy from a store that offers membership benefits or online. I know some stores send coupons and have incentive programs if you buy a certain amount of product you get a certain amount free. Buying food online can sometimes be cheaper also (though the shipping cost needs to be considered).
Use coupons. Depending on the brand of food and/or litter, there are often coupons available for the products. The big box stores sometimes send coupons in the mail if you’re on their mailing list; otherwise, coupons can be found in the Sunday paper, the manufacturer’s web site or you can always call the manufacturer to see if they will send coupons. If possible, sign up on the manufacturer’s web site and it typically increases your chances for them to send you coupons when they become available.
Buy quality toys. Again, the cost may be more upfront, but in the long run if your dog is tearing apart a cheap toy in a couple hours/days, it’s worth it to pay a little more and have the toy last longer so you don’t have to buy as many. It’s also worth it to have safe toys as often times a broken toy is unsafe for the pet.
Consider making your own accessories or repurpose items you already own. Though we love them, our pets don’t need (or know about) the latest name-brand gear. They are not going to develop self-esteem issues because the cat down the street has the latest and greatest diamond-studded litter box and they don’t! You can use a plastic storage box and your pet will love it just as much! Repurpose other items in your house or make it yourself. Personally, my cat loves our wicker garbage can for a scratching post–dual purposes!
Consider exchanging pet sitting or bartering with a neighbor or friend rather than hiring a sitter or boarding your pet. Chances are that you have a neighbor that would welcome an exchange rather than both of you paying a sitter. Just make sure the neighbor is responsible in caring for your pet.
Shop for pet clothes at the end of the season. Pet clothes are like human clothes, they go on sale at the end of the season. Stock up for next winter at the end of January. Shop around and compare costs for the best possible deals.
Keep your pet safe. This may seem like a “no-brainer”, but if your pet is always on a leash or in some enclosed fence, the chances of he/she getting hurt are much smaller and your bills will be much lesser than if your pet gets hurt. I understand the need for dogs to run and exercise, but make sure it’s in a safe area. Put hazardous cleaners/chemicals away so pets cannot get at them. Ensure that their toys are still intact and put away stringy toys when pets are unsupervised.
Look into pet insurance. Some employers offer this as an employee benefit, so check with your Human Resources Department. Make sure you factor in what is covered and not covered as some insurances don’t cover vaccinations and other preventative measures and may not be worth it.
Compare veterinary costs with clinics around you. I’ve found that differing clinics can vary quite a bit in costs. Once we found a veterinarian that we liked, we stuck with her until she left, but typically veterinarians in more rural areas tend to charge less than in suburban/city districts. If you live on the outskirts of a city, you may want to check in the more rural areas. Also, vets in a store like PetSmart may have cheaper rates than independent clinics.
Talk with your veterinarian about switching certain vaccines (rabies excluded) to every other year or every third year. There has been some research done that this is actually safer for the pet and just as effective.
Check online for pet medications. You can find the identical product online for a reduced cost to what the veterinary offices can offer. There are several sources including 1-800-PET-MEDS and Amazon. I’ve also heard that feed stores tend to have cheaper medications for pets.
Keep up-to-date on your pet’s vaccinations and checkups for prevention. Prevention is always cheaper than treatment. If your pet does get ill, take him/her to your vet as soon as possible. It’s cheaper to treat an illness at an early stage than to treat it when it has progressed. Obviously, it’s also healthier for the pet. If you can’t afford the bill, inquire with your veterinarian’s office to see if they offer a payment plan and always ask your veterinarian if there are any more cost effective ways to treat the illness.
Pets can be an extra expense, but the love and companionship they offer cannot be measured in monetary terms. Here’s to taking the best care of our furry friends!
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