Have you ever stopped to think about how much money you spend a year on your furry friends? I sure know I have. I’ve been forced to (even though most of the time I really don’t want to know!) because of the sheer amount of money I’ve been forced to spend over the past 4 years trying to keep my babies happy and healthy. Take a few minutes and just guesstimate the cost of food, vet bills, medications, supplements, toys, and other goodies—it’s a lot! My kiddos are worth every penny I spend on them, but it sure is nice when I can save a few dollars here and there. I’ve spent the past few weeks jotting down ideas on how to save just a little bit more money, and I think I’m ready to share how you can save money on pet expenses too!
1. Adopt, don’t shop!
Find your furkid at a local shelter or rescue and you’ll save a lot of money! Usually, the spay/neuter expense and some vaccinations are included in the adoption fee too. If you’re looking for a pure-bred dog or cat, check for a breed-specific rescue in your area. Remember – when you adopt, you will save a loving animal by making them part of your family AND you’ll help open up shelter space for another animal who might desperately need it.
2. Choose high-quality foods.
Cheap food offers little nutritional value and it will cost you more in the end with related health issues and higher vet bills. Check foods to make sure that they’re produced in the USA, and make sure that they’re not jam-packed with fillers (like corn and grain) instead of focusing on animal protein. The best pet food has meat (i.e., beef, turkey, lamb, salmon or chicken) in the first and second spots on the ingredient list. As a bonus, pets will normally eat less (and poop less) when fed a high-quality food.
3. Higher prices don’t always mean higher quality.
Don’t just assume that expensive brands are always better or more nutritious. Take the time to compare labels and ingredients.
4. Take advantage of store promotions.
Most stores usually have some kind of loyalty card or program to help you save money. Also, take advantage of those in-store surveys and coupons that print at the bottom of your receipt!
5. Order food and treats online.
It’s often cheaper and more convenient to order your dog’s food online. You’ll save time and gasoline and often you’ll get free shipping too. I love Chewy.com for their low prices and amazing customer service! Also, did you know that Purina now has a program that allows them to ship prescription food right to your door? Ask your vet how to sign up!
6. Choose the auto-ship option to save even more.
Auto Ship is the most convenient and cheapest way for you to get food and treats that you like to regularly order. Some online stores even offer an additional discount if you have your food automatically shipped when you need it. Plus, you will never need to worry about running out of food!
7. Make your own treats.
It’s easy to make homemade treats for your pets and most recipes require only a few ingredients you that probably already have on hand. There are tons of recipes you can find online – for one of my favorite EASY treats to make, check out this blog post.
8. Give kibble as treats
This is also a great way to help with weight management. Most dogs are perfectly happy getting a few small pieces of their regular food instead of more expensive treats.
9. Look for freebies.
What’s better than free?! Ask friends or post on facebook to see if anyone has pet items they no longer need. Chances are, someone has a dog crate or cat bed they would be happy to give away. It’s also a great idea to follow your favorite brands on their social media pages – you’d be surprised at how many discounts and freebies companies give away to their loyal customers.
10. Always repurpose.
Instead of buying new, expensive pet items, repurpose household items you already have! Turn a drawer from a dresser into an eco-friendly cat bed, old rake heads can be given new life as purposeful dog leash storage, use collars off of an old shirt to make a fun dog collar or cat toy; just to name a few ideas.
11. Don’t pay too much for toys.
Shop for toys at dollar stores, eBay, or other discount stores where prices are generally lower than prices at pet stores. My dogs all-time favorite dolls was under $5 at Marshalls! I’ve also purchased several brand new cat toys (even one cat scratcher that was still in a sealed box!) at Goodwill.
12. Prevention can save a lot of money.
Annual vet checks, preventative care, keeping your pet at a healthy weight, regular exercise, and parasite preventatives can prevent major health issues and expenses later on.
13. Consider pet insurance.
With recent trends showing that people are truly considering pets as part of their family, pet insurance is becoming increasingly popular. Be sure to compare what each policy covers, read reviews, and ask friends, family, and vet staff if they have any experience with particular pet insurance plans.
14. Save money on grooming.
Stretch out the time between grooming appointments by leaving how to freshen up your pets at home. Try giving baths, minor hair trims and nail trims at home. If you’re not sure how to perform something – just ask! Most groomers should be willing to fill you in on their favorite grooming products, and most vets will happily give you a demo on how to safely cut your pet’s nails. If you need a bigger or more convenient space for giving dog baths, try a self-service pet wash station.
15. Hire someone to take care of your dog.
Paying a friend, family member, neighbor or local pet sitter might still be a better and cheaper option than paying to have your furbaby boarded at a kennel. Bonus! Your pets get to stay comfortably at home or with somebody they love.
16. Buy preventatives in bulk.
Many preventatives are much cheaper when buying by the box instead of purchasing individual doses. ALWAYS buy preventatives through your vet office – many companies only guarantee their products when they are purchased from a veterinary clinic.
17. Have open communication with your vet.
It can be all too tempting to check with Dr.Google in an attempt to save a few bucks on pet care. More often than not, searching online will do nothing but stress you out. Be sure to call your vet with any questions or concerns that you may have about your pet’s health. Also, be sure to let your vet know if you have a budget that needs to be worked around – you should be able to request an estimate prior to any services to make sure everything stays in your price range.
18. Ask for written prescriptions.
I don’t know about all pharmacies, but Wegmans pharmacy will occasionally have antibiotics for a significant discount at various times throughout the year. Your vet’s top priority is helping your pet, and most are more than happy to write you a prescription to help save you some money. Letting them know about the deals that your pharmacy is offering will end up not only helping you but when vets know that local pharmacies have products significantly cheaper, they are more likely to write out those prescriptions for other clients.
19. Seek out organizations that can help.
If your pet requires care that you can’t afford, there are organizations that may be able to help. The Humane Society has a short list of animal welfare groups that are designed to assist people who need help.
20. Get Pets Spayed or Neutered
Yes, this last suggestion is bolded for a reason. One of the most important things you can do both for your pet and for your wallet is to make sure all of your pets are fixed. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and mammary tumors while neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer and prostate problems. The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is far less than the cost of the major surgeries involved with treating the above issues, not to mention the cost of having and caring for a litter of puppies or kittens.
Be sure to share in the comments if you have any other frugal pet tips!