Having a pet in the home is a wonderful experience for all members of the family. They teach you more than responsibility, they teach about being human. Pets are man’s best friend after all. Whether you have a lizard, dog, cat, or chicken there is an expense involved with being a pet guardian.
We know all about the cost of caring for our pets. From foot amputation to cancer our sweet companions have fared a lot over the years. Our bank accounts have also been squeezed for the very last drop.
If you are anything like us, our pets are our family. We have 4 of them right now, two dogs and two cats. We would do absolutely anything for our pets and this means planning for them financially and looking for ways to save money while they have their needs met.
Ways to Save Money on Your Pets
Having both a budget and financial plan in place for your pets is essential to saving you money and keep you out of debt.
Have an Emergency Fund
The pet emergency fund is something we created after we had a terrible emergency with our cat. The amputation of his foot was not the expensive part, having the accident happen on a weekend was. The emergency vet clinics charge double and triple for nights and weekends.
You need to have an emergency fund just for your pets in order to avoid putting it all on a credit card or having to sign up for Care Credit.
Our emergency fund is re-building after our dog had a kidney infection a few weeks ago. However, you ideally have $2000 in this fund minimum. Keep it in
Think Before Paying for Pet insurance
Pet insurance can be a good deal for some and money suck for others. First, make sure the plan will cover what you need it too. Pet insurance plans can be tricky and not cover certain things that happen to your pet. Be sure to read the fine print when signing up.
The bottom line– if you have a high-risk breed like a Persian Cat or Bulldog, you know it will have some health complications. In this case, pet insurance is typically worth it. If you adopted or have a relatively healthy animal then pet insurance will not save you money.
Join the Rewards Programs
The rewards programs for pet stores and pet products are awesome. Sign up for your pet stores reward program and ONLY shop there when you have a coupon. We regularly receive coupons for 50% off bags of food or litter and this makes buying at the pet store cheaper than buying online.
Preventing a visit to the vet and caring for the health of your pet is one of the easiest ways to save money. This is called preventative care.
Treat for Fleas and Ticks
Treating for fleas and ticks regularly will save you money and time spent trying to irradiate an infestation. Throwing a flea collar on your cat once you notice the fleas is too late. They have already gotten into the home. Ticks in some areas carry Lyme disease which is something humans and animals can contract, so you want to keep those critters away.
One way we save on flea and tick medication is to buy the dose of Frontline that is for the larger dogs. You can then split this in a cup with a little syringe between your dogs. Our cat who has hair gets her own dose just for cats.
NOTE: Dog and cat flea medication is VERY different. Cats can die (I have seen them die at the vet) from being given a dogs flea and tick medication. This is not a money saving trick-it would be a deadly one.
Groom at Home
Grooming at home can save you money every month or however much you would bring your pup to the groomer. Brushing, trimming nails, and even learning to do anal glands can save you trips to the vet too. If you have never done any of these things, look it up on YouTube and ask your Vet Tech the next time you bring your dog in to watch and learn.
Vaccinate your Pets
This is one of the most important parts of preventative care. Make sure your keep up on your pets vaccinations. Look to see what is needed for your area before giving them everything under the sun. After the initial sets of shots, keep them up to date, typically every two to three years.
Not only will this keep your pet healthy and eliminate the spread of disease, but it will also keep you from getting a hefty fine from the city if you have an unvaccinated animal.
No Table Scraps
Many types of human food is toxic to animals. Even some peanut butter that is now sweetened with Xylitol is seriously toxic. Human food in large sums can also cause pancreatitis and kidney disease.
Keep your pet healthy and only feed what your vet has approved like carrot sticks. Not giving in to the begging dogs and screaming cats can be tough, but it is better for their health and your pocket book.
Avoid the Dog Park
Social events with dogs can be dangerous. While your pup may be the sweetest soul, you do not know this of other dogs. I used to be a huge fan of dog parks, but after a while I saw a few too many hyper aggressive dogs jump on others and create tension and anxiety. Not to mention the transfer of disease and fleas is a high risk in these places. You may vaccinate and treat, but others may not.
Some dogs do not like the wild nature of the dog park and much prefer a simple walk with you instead.
If you do choose to do social events try to pre-plan play dates with dogs that your dogs already know. Let them run and go wild in a field with dogs they know and whose owners you know, is much more enjoyable than hoping the dogs at the dog park are going to behave.
Keep your Cats Inside Only
Having cats as indoor/outdoor may be more convenient , however it is also risky. If you live by a busy street or in the city keep your cats indoors to avoid having them injured.
Another consideration is the exposure to other cats and bugs. So if you are going to keep an indoor/outdoor cat keep them vaccinated and treated for fleas consistently. Make sure they come inside at night and always check them for accesses which are common among outdoor cats from abrasions left alone. Abscesses must be treated by a vet and should never be “popped” by you. They need to have a drain inserted and receive atibiotics.
Clean the Cage More Often
If you own a reptile, bird, or little furry critter who lives in a cage keeping the cage clean will cut down on your vet expenses. Plus, it will not smell if you clean the cage regularly.
When looking for pet bedding, avoid buying it in the pet store and check out your local farm store instead. Pellets, shavings, etc are much cheaper and come in bulk for farm animals-saving you money in the long run.
As pet owners we buy many items for our pets. These consumables are a regular part of the budget. Here are some ways to save on what you need to buy for your pets.
Save on Food
Feeding your pet a high quality and a nutritious diet is important. So is keeping the food spending on a budget. Raw diets are notoriously “better” for dogs and cats but can cost upwards fo $400 a month. Yikes!
This does not mean going out and buying the largest bag of Atta Boy on the shelf as this can cause some serious health issues later in life and you will be paying for it at the veterinary office.
A good in-between where the food offers nutrients, has not been recalled, and is something that your pet will enjoy can be hard to find. The hunt for this food should begin now.
Once you find it, order the food online and buy in bulk to save money. Costco brand dog food is actually decent and affordable, so finding an option like this is ideal.
I have been guilty of buying a few too many toys when my animals prefer to play with trash. No joke, my cats will bat around a Q-tip for hours but ignore the squeaky mouse toy entirely. Creating DIY toys is pretty easy and can save you money in the long run.
Some dogs love to chew plastic water bottles (although I do not condone buying these, only using what you find.) My guinea pigs loved to play and nibble on cardboard, I would create little mazes for them.
Save on Pet Prescriptions
Prescriptions can be expensive, especially if you purchase them every month for your pet. Talk to your vet and see if you can get the prescriptions called into Costco or Pet-Meds. Many pet prescriptions can be ordered outside of the vet and save you money.
Make your own treats! There are plenty of recipes online using what you have in your kitchen. If this takes up too much of your time, you can give treats like carrots to dogs. Be sure to do your research to ensure you are not giving your animal something toxic.
I have also found that buying treats in the bulk section at the pet stores or in Winco is much cheaper than buying the individual bags. So if your pets will eat dry little treats, then go for the bulk section.
Avoid the Gimmicky Items
While I am a sucker for anything cute that the animals “might” enjoy, it turns out these are mostly gimmicky items. That cat tunnel was exciting for only 5 minutes and then seemed to be forgotten. It is hard to tell what your pets might actually enjoy, so keep the receipt and check the return policy.
Use Generic Products
As with most things in our homes, we can use generic products for our pets. Your pet bowls can be human bowls you found at the dollar store. The gentle-leader could be the generic version found on Amazon. They will work the same, but save you money.
My first job was working on a ranch at 12 years old. It was here that I learned to care for animals and use what I had. I built a fence and a shed and owned a horse. I showed my dog and cared for my guinea pigs. Since I was a child, I have cared for many animals and loved them all. I moved on to work in a vet clinic while in college and I have never regretted any moment I spent with animals and learning with them.
Meeting my pets needs and making sure they live their best life has always been a priority and along the way I have learned how to do this and save money. I think it is important to always keep in mind what they need, not that they are “animals”. Instead, they are living beings who are spending their lives with you. That is precious. Their care is your responsibility .