Money Saving Tips for Pet Owners

Cat Bank

Everyone wants to save money and pet owners are no different. Let me know if any of these tips are helpful and feel free to share how you have saved money.

First, for those thinking about adding a pet-

  • If you are going to groan about any of the expense, don’t get a pet. Sorry for the bluntness, but pets cost money. They need food, they need medical care. Most of the costs can be planned, sometimes they cannot. Emergencies happen. Pets are a responsibility that cannot be put by the wayside.
  • Research the pet you are interested in. Not just the type of pet (dog, cat, ferret, etc.), but the breed (or breeds if adopting a mixed breed). Large breed dogs require more food. They do require less food per pound, but 5 cups to feed a large breed compared to 1/2 a cup a day to feed a small breed is still more food. They require more medication for preventive care (heartworm medication, etc.) and to treat health problems (antibiotics) so costs will be more. Some surgical costs may be higher. Some breeds require more detailed grooming than other breeds. Are you willing to take this on yourself or will the pet need professional grooming? If neither, get a pet that doesn’t require much grooming. Small pets aren’t always cheaper to care for. Ferrets are often given up because owners are not prepared for the cost. They have specific dietary needs and they are prone to health problems that require surgery and/or ongoing medication. So look into the type of pet you are thinking of adding to your family and decide on what type of pet would best fit your family and budget.
  • Adopt your pet from a shelter or rescue. So many good pets are given up because their owners weren’t prepared. Their loss is your gain. Our local shelter vaccinates and neuters dogs and cats before they go home. The rabbits are also neutered. It costs $95 to adopt a dog and $50 to adopt a cat. It would cost you much more to have a “free” pet vaccinated and neutered . And the life you save is worth more than money.

cat Now tips for those already with pets in the household-

  • Be a smart shopper. Watch for discounts on pet products. I have been able to find some decent, even name brand pet products at Big Lots, a chain discount store in our area. The prices are not bad. I recently saw an automatic litter box for $50 about half of what I have seen them in other retail stores. Check to see if there is a pet supply retailer near you. There is one a half hour away from me that has an outlet store. You may also save money if you pick up an order. The online retailer I worked for gave people wholesale pricing when they picked the order up at our warehouse. If there is a product you are interested in, look for reviews before purchasing to make sure it is worth it. Check on Ebay.
  • Don’t rule out pet insurance. For some people, pet insurance will save them money when an emergency comes up. (To show I am not biased, I will say that I don’t have pet insurance. I work in a vet hospital and am lucky to receive a very generous discount.) The best thing to do is look at the individual insurance policies and do the math. $8 a month may be worth it. For a great series of blog posts on pet insurance, visit invisible voices .
  • Look for vaccine clinics in your area. Our local animal shelter offers rabies (and microchip) clinics several times a year. Local vets donate their time for these events and the rabies vaccines are given at a reduced price.
  • If your community requires a dog license, see if they offer a life-time license. Pennsylvania offers a lifetime license. For neutered dogs, the cost is $31. Compare this to the yearly cost of $6. The lifetime license does require your dog be tattooed or microchipped (an additional cost). Our local shelter has held microchip clinics to encourage people to license their dogs.
  • Don’t feed a food just because it is cheap. Cheap pet food is cheap for a reason. They contain a lot of fillers that don’t provide much nutrition for your pet. This means that you need to feed more food for your pet to get the nutrition they need. It also means that there is more..uh, output. Premium foods use ingredients that your pet is better able to metabolize so you don’t need to feed as much. I like visiting Dogaware to get information on dog foods.
  • Consider a dog training class. A well behaved dog makes life so much easier and can save money in the long run by preventing damage to your house, your dog running away, it could also save you some money on a dog license. In Clallam County, Washington, you can save 10% off the cost of a dog license by you and your dog passing the AKC Canine Good Citizen test.
  • Don’t skimp on healthcare. Visit your vet yearly for your pet’s physical exam, even if you have vaccines done at a vaccine clinic. When you see your pet everyday, it can be easy to miss health problems that appear gradually. Plus it is good to develop a relationship with a vet. If a major problem develops, a vet that you see regularly is more likely to let you make payments high bills than a vet you see every 3 years. This is also a reason not to jump from vet to vet trying to get the cheapest price for different services. Find a vet you are comfortable with and stick with them.
  • Statistics don’t lie. Indoor pets live longer, healthier lives. According to a study done by Humane Society of the United States in 2001, indoor cats lived an average of 15-18 years while cats allowed to go outside lived less than 3 years. Outside cats are exposed to cars, poisons, other animals, diseases such as feline leukemia, panleukopenia and rabies. Dogs that run loose are exposed to many of the same dangers. Working in a vet hospital, I have seen the results of free roaming pets, unfortunately, too often. Often the price paid is your pet’s life.
  • Don’t overfeed. Obesity in pets is almost as common as it is in people and it contributes to many of the same health problems- diabetes, joint problems, heart problems (which cost money to treat). The suggested amount of food on the bag is a guideline. Every pet will require a different amount of calories. Start with that amount and then adjust it up or down as needed. Use an actual measuring cup. I know many people who just grab a glass and call it a cup when it actually holds much more than a cup of food. Go by how your pet looks. A pet is at a good weight when you can place your hands on their ribs and feel their ribs (they should have some padding and not be bone thin). They should also have a waist when you look at them from above. Purina has a great illustration on body condition for dogs and cats.
  • This last tip has worked well for me! Get a job working in the pet industry. I have been lucky to receive some great benefits working at some of my jobs. When I worked for the pet retailer, I was able to buy products at 15% off wholesale pricing (I am almost went into shock when recently I had to buy a product for my ferrets. I got the ferrets after I started working at this job and so got everything below retail. The retail cost at a local pet store was 3 times as much as what I use to pay). At the day vet practice I work at, I recieve my vet care at cost. Not all employers are this generous. At the emergency vet clinic I am working at for the summer, I receive 40% off the services. Well 40% off their services still cost more than if I went to the day practice vet as a regular client as I found out when I brought Charm home and had to pay for an exam, fecal exam and feline leukemia/ FIV test. Before jumping into the pet field though make sure you like both pets and people. The pets are usually the easiest ones to handle!

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