Having a pet means adopting a new member of your family. There is simply no end to the joy and entertainment that a pet can add to your life. The downside is that it can also quickly add up as an expense on your budget.
Fortunately, you don’t necessarily have to compromise keeping your pet healthy and spoiled while making your budget work. Here are 20 simple tips on how to save money on your pet.
1. Find an Affordable Veterinarian
You might not think of doing a price comparison on veterinarians in the same way you would when buying a car or a new kitchen appliance. However, the same principle applies here.
Whether your pet needs a routine exam or is feeling under the weather, vet bills can quickly add up. If you spend some time doing your research when you first decide to get a pet, you are more likely to find a veterinarian that is more reasonably priced.
Don’t be shy about calling around and asking for a price checklist from veterinarians in your area. If you’re willing to drives, you may be able to find a less expensive vet by expanding your radius.
2. Pass on Pet Insurance
Pet insurance may seem like a responsible idea at first. You most likely have insurance for your car, so it may seem logical that you could also save money on major medical expenses by getting similar coverage for your pet.
Unfortunately, pet insurance does not make the same financial sense as car insurance coverage. You have to pay a monthly fee that may cost as much as paying for a regular vet exam out of your own pocket.
While there would most likely be coverage for any major surgery for your pet, you would also most likely have to shell out a significant portion of the cost on your own. It’s estimated that pet insurance costs about $433 per yer per pet.
If you do decide that pet insurance is something you need to have, then don’t simply sign up with the first company that you hear of. Instead of jumping the gun, take your time and do some rate comparisons so that you are not paying any more than you absolutely have to for coverage.
3. Choose Your Pet Food Wisely
Your pet’s diet is something that you can control everyday to make sure your faithful companion has a top-notch quality of life. You’ve probably heard that it’s not wise to feed your pet human food because this can lead to obesity and digestive problems.
If you don’t adhere to a healthy diet for your pet over time, it can end up costing you in unnecessary vet fees. Be sure to also stay up to date on the latest pet food recalls.
In addition to finding the best food for your pet, you should also make sure that you are feeding it the right amount each day. Many pet owners have a tendency to give their pets too much food without knowing it.
Most pet food brands provide guidance on the recommended serving size of the food, which will generally depend on the stature and weight of the pet. Some brands also differentiate based on the age of the dog. For example, puppies may need protein in their daily diet than older dogs because puppies are still in a growth phase.
Find out which stores carry your favorite pet food brand and whether they offer a loyalty or reward program for frequent customers. If so, be sure to sign up for it as well as monitoring for discounts and coupons on pet food frequently.
The same general advice goes for finding dog treats that are both affordable and healthy for your pet. It’s easier than you might think to feed your pet an excessive amount of treats. Make sure that you balance them out with chewable toys and rawhides that may last longer than a single food treat.
4. Learn How to Groom Your Pet
There are plenty of pet stores and boutiques that offer grooming services for your pet, including bathing, pedicures and trimming fur. While it can seem like quite the chore to groom your pet at home, it will end up saving you quite a bit of money.
To get started, you will need a few quality items, such as nail clippers and fur brushes. Making sure that your pet is properly groomed is important since it will decrease the likelihood that you will overlook a tick or fleas on your pet.
If you have general questions about how often you should be bathing your pet, be sure to check with your vet because this can vary by species and breed.
For some pets, it can be harmful to their skin and dry them out if you wash them too frequently. Also be sure to ask your vet about any skin conditions or marks that you notice on your pet while bathing or grooming it.
5. Make Sure Your Pet is Spayed or Neutered
There are currently around 6 to 8 million homeless pets in the U.S. Don’t ignore your responsibility to get your pet spayed or neutered. In addition to making sure that you are not left with a litter of kittens, having this procedure done can prolong the life of your pet and save you money on expensive vet bills.
This is the more cost-effective alternative to potentially having to get your pet’s uterus removed down the line in the event of a health issue. If you need to find an affordable option for your pet, the Humane Society provides a list of low-cost providers.
6. Remember to Brush
Good dental habits are not just for humans. Our four-legged friends also need some regular dental attention. Making sure that you are regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and examining its mouth is vital to prevent oral disease.
You can easily clean your pet’s teeth at home without having to pay an expensive vet bill by using a pet toothbrush that fits right over your finger.
7. Make Your Pet Toys at Home
Pet toys can be quite expensive if you choose to buy the premium brands at the popular pet stores. To avoid shelling out the big bucks on pet toys that are bound to get chewed up and slobbered all over, try your hand at making them on your own.
Even if you have the most basic sewing skills, you should be able to put something together that your beloved pet will love to spend time chewing and tugging on.
If you don’t think you are creative enough to make your own pet toys, consider buying used pet toys before going to a traditional pet store. You could try going to your local animal shelter or searching online for gently used pet toys.
Friends and family are also a great source for used dog toys. You might also be able to find other pet supplies, such as food bowls, leashes, collars and grooming supplies, from friends or family.
You can even pay it forward down the line by donating any of your gently used pet supplies to your local animal shelter if you no longer have a use for them.
8. Buy in Bulk When Possible
Pet food can be preserved for a long period of time. It will pay off in the long run if you to buy pet food in bulk as much as possible. The same goes for pet cleaning supplies, such as shampoo and pet wipes.
As long as you have a place in your home where you can store these extras, it can save you quite a bit of money to buy them in larger quantities.
9. Change Your Routine to Include Time for Walks
If you have a busy work schedule, it can be tempting to hire a dog walker to make sure that your pet is getting the exercise it needs each day. The average hourly rate for a dog walker is about $13.
This is an unnecessary expense that is something people choose out of convenience. Find a way to free up some time in your schedule to walk your pet yourself. This is an excellent form of exercise for you, and it provides an excellent bonding opportunity for you and your dog.
Making sure that your dog is able to respond to your commands while being out in public is an important step in your dog’s training. If your pet does not get adequate exercise on a daily basis, it could begin to gain weight over time.
It may also begin to get restless around the house and will engage in destructive behaviors, such as chewing up clothing and furniture. By walking your dog, you will keep your home from being destroyed and your dog out of trouble for bad behavior.
10. You Don’t Need an Expensive Pet Bed
As long as your pet has a soft surface to rest on that keeps it off of the hard floor, it will have more than what it needs in a pet bed. If you shop for a pet bed in a pet store or online, you could easily fall into the trap of buying a premium brand for a premium price.
For those who are able to sew, it would be easy to use some pillows or seat cushions that you already have around the house to make a comfortable pet bed. After you have selected a comfortable yet affordable pet bed, make sure that you periodically wash the bed.
If your pet gets an unfortunate case of the fleas, you can prevent the spread from taking over your home if you wash the pet bed frequently enough. This will also prevent bed bugs from overtaking your home.
11. Buy Generic Pet Meds
If your pet ever needs medicine or a prescription to be filled, it could save you quite a bit to buy the generic brands. Research demonstrates that there is no difference between the two in terms of their overall effectiveness.
If your vet fills out a prescription, take it to a pharmacy and ask for generic brands. It may not be a common practice of the pharmacy to fill a prescription with the generic brand for pet meds if you don’t inquire directly.
You can also do a price check online before buying them from the vet directly. You will also likely be able to get a discount for buying based on a subscription.
12. Save Money on Pet Sitters
Sending your pet to a pet sitter can be expensive and can also expose your pet to illness. The more budget-friendly alternative would be to find a friend or family member to take care of your beloved pet while you are away.
This will ensure that your pet is surrounded by familiar faces, which means that it will be less likely to suffer the full effects of separation anxiety until you come back.
Before you drop your pet off, be sure that you know whether there will be any other animals in the same home. If so, it’s best for everyone involved that you make sure that your pet is friendly with all the other pets that will be staying around your pet.
13. Buy Quality Over Fashion
It can be very tempting to scoop up the most fashionable collars and leashes for your precious pet, but this is more expensive than it’s worth. You should always buy for quality over fashion when it comes to important pet accessories, such as collars and leashes.
The most important thing to look for is that the leash and collar have a reliable clasp so that your pet will not get away. In general, pet collars that are made out of leather are more durable than those made out of nylon. Furthermore, if the pet leash has a metal clasp, it will probably be more sturdy than one made out of plastic.
The same line of thinking applies to pet clothing. Unless you are purchasing a sweater to keep your pet warm in the cold outdoor temperatures or a rain coat for walks in wet weather, pet clothes are generally a luxury that your bank account could do without.
If your pet had a say in the matter, I’m sure he or she would prefer regular quality time with you and a new chew toy over your favorite football team’s jersey anyway.
14. Pet Proof Your Home
Before you bring a new pet into your home, you should remove as many hazards as possible to keep it safe. This includes things like installing bumper guards over sharp edges of tables and making sure that steps have at least some carpeting so that pets don’t fall down them.
You should also make sure that any pest traps or chemicals are out of reach of your pet being able to chew on or ingest them. If you are unsure about whether something in your come could potentially be dangerous to your pet, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
You can avoid an unpleasant and costly trip to the vet by making sure that your pet is not eating things around your home when you are not looking. Prevent many accidents at home by simply cleaning up the general clutter that may be laying on the floor and could tempt your bored pet when you are out of the house for long periods of time.
Even the most seemingly harmless objects can cause serious damage to a pet if they are ingested. It might seem humorous at first that your pup has a fetish for eating socks, but this can actually be very harmful to its organs and can require major surgery to remove them if left unaddressed.
15. Ask Your Vet About Vitamins and Supplements
Did you know that about one-third of dogs and cats in the U.S. are given vitamins? Pets can benefit from vitamins and supplements just as much as humans can. For example, certain dog breeds suffer from hip and joint problems as they age.
A daily dose of glucosamine can help to prevent deterioration of the joints and maintain a dog’s mobility as it ages. This preventative measure can make the difference in your dog aging well and having to get invasive surgery later on.
Fish oil for dogs can also be helpful in preventing dry skin and dandruff for your pet. Your vet would be the best source of information about which vitamins could be helpful for your pet.
Before you ever give any medicine to your pet that is not specifically intended for pet use and recommended by your vet, you should exercise extreme caution. You can cause serious health issues for your pet if you give it medicine that is only meant for humans to take.
Even though you think you might be helping your pet or saving money by avoiding a trip to the vet, this dangerous mistake could end up costing you much more in the long run when a vet has to examine your pet unexpectedly.
16. Train Your Pet Early On
The sooner you start training your pet, the more effective your efforts will be. It’s easier to correct bad behavior early on when you set very rigid ground rules that your pet cannot break.
If you don’t instill good training habits in your early days with your pet, you can end up feeling frustrated and overwhelmed. You might think that the only solution to your problems at that point is to hire an expensive pet trainer.
In some cases, this may actually be necessary to get your pet under control and make sure that it’s not a threat or danger to others. If you do find that your pet is in serious need of behavior modification, you could try taking it to an obedience class rather than working in a private setting with a trainer.
Private trainers tend to be much more expensive than group classes. An extra benefit of signing your pet up for a group obedience class is that it provides an opportunity for your pet to socialize with other animals and reinforces trained behaviors outside of your home.
If your pet still does not seem to be taking to training and correcting its bad behaviors, then you can always resort to working with a private trainer. Before you sign up with a private trainer, find out if any local companies are running specials for discounts. You might also get a discount by referring a friend to their services.
17. Bypass Puppy Pee Pads
Some pet owners will do or buy anything to make sure that their pet is housebroken. This might include purchasing urination pads, which are supposed to encourage a pet to pee in that specific area in the house and not on other surfaces, such as the furniture or carpet.
One of the conveniences of the pee pads is that pet owners will not have to get up in the middle of the night or be dragged out of bed at the earliest hours of the morning to let their pet outside.
While this might give you some peace of mind in the short-term, you may eventually regret not training your pet to urinate outside and on a regular schedule. It’s important to establish a regular routine.
One of the many disadvantages of using pee pads to train your pet is that your pet may always rely on the pee pads to urinate. Without them, your pet might not know how to properly behave and will leave unwanted messes all over the house.
This means that you will be obligated to continue buying these pee pads for the rest of your pet’s life. There is no effective way to replicate a pee pad and have it still be sanitary. Even if you do use the best pee pads, it can still present an unsanitary and smelly situation all throughout the house.
18. Save Money on Cat Litter
You might not have known just how easy it’s to make your own cat litter out of supplies that you probably already have around the house. Cat litter is an absolute necessity for any cat owner. Making it on your own could save you plenty of money over the lifetime of your cat.
You only need newspaper, dish soap and baking soda to get started. After you shred the newspaper, you can soak it in dish soap and warm water.
Once it begins to dry out, you can add baking soda to the mixture to make sure that it’s completely dry. It may take a few days for the mixture to dry out and be ready for use. If you lay the mixture over a screen, it might dry faster.
19. Never Skip on Vaccines
If the cost of having your pet vaccinated at a regular vet is simply too much, then you can check with your local humane society or animal shelter to find out if they offer vaccines at a deep discount. Make sure to keep records of all vaccines that your pet has received. This may be required under the laws or regulations depending on your city or state.
This is also important information to have in case your pet ever has to go to a new vet. If you fail to get your pet vaccinated early on, you risk exposing it to unnecessary health risks. Of all the medical choices that you can make for your pet, vaccines are certainly ones you should ever skip out on.
20. Clean Your Pet’s Paws
Take great care to wipe off your pet’s paws when it enters your home after being outside. It may seem like a pain to go through this extra step to wipe down your pet. However, an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure when it comes to not cleaning up mud.
At the very least, you should have a carpet pad at the pet entrances to your home. This will captures as much dirt as possible before it’s tracked all over the house. This will save you from having to get your carpets cleaned professionally.
Another way that you can save on the cost of cleaning up after your pet is to brush its fur regularly. While there is no preventing your pet from shedding entirely, managing its fur is a cheap and easy.
Even with the best grooming habits, you are unlikely to be able to prevent all fur clumps from accumulating. This is why it’s recommended that you vacuum as regularly as possible. If you wait too long to vacuum your carpets, you could end up damaging your vacuum due to an excessive amount of pet hair.
It will also be much more of a hassle for you to clean. The Humane Society provides helpful guidance on how to properly clean up pet messes around your home.
These 20 easy-to-follow tips are great for saving money on your pet. If you see any tips that aren’t on the list and should be, let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugaling!