Frugal Living 

Seven Tips for Saving Money on Pet Costs

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Cute Dogs!Americans spend more than $41 billion each year on pets. From routine care to pet spa appointments, the pets industry is big business. Increasingly, people consider their pets to be part of the family, and spend accordingly. This can include everything from specially made pet clothes to expensive medical procedures.

Even those most in love with their pets, though, occasionally wonder how they can reduce the costs associated with pet ownership. The economy may be showing signs of recovery, but, for many, the recession is still a reality. And that means that costs need to be cut somewhere. If you are looking for ways to cut back on pet expenses, here are seven ideas:

  1. Find the recommendations for vaccines: Double check the vaccine requirements. Some vaccinations are no longer required each year. Find out from your vet, or check with the American Animal Hospital Association for recommendations on how often to get your pet vaccinated. With the new guidelines recommending three years for some vaccines, instead of one year, you could see your costs go down if you have been over-vaccinating.
  2. Do some things yourself: There are some things you can do yourself. Save money on grooming by bathing and brushing your pet yourself. You can also brush your pet’s teeth, saving money on dental visits. Cleaning your pet’s ears, clipping claws and other basic things can be done at home, saving you having to pay someone else to do these things.
  3. Follow feeding directions on packages: You might be surprised to find that you are over-feeding your pet. Follow the directions on the package so that your food lasts an appropriate amount of time. Your pet will be healthier, and you’ll save money on pet food. Additionally, don’t get the cheapest food with fillers. Find a good quality pet food that results in better health. As with humans, prevention is a great way to save money on heath care down the road.
  4. Comparison shop on pet items and services: Shop around for the best prices on vet services, as well as the items that you purchase for your pet. This also includes shopping around for medications. Make sure you are comparing products and services of similar quality, and look online as well as at smaller pet stores.
  5. Look for coupons and discounts: You can find coupons for some pet products, and many pet food companies will provide you with free samples. Check your local paper, and look online for coupons and promos.
  6. Stay away from unnecessary expenses: Really evaluate whether or not you need something. Your cat probably doesn’t want to wear a sweater. Your dog doesn’t seriously need a special facial. Consider what you are buying, and whether your pet needs it. After all, Fido doesn’t care about a rhinestone collar. Fido just wants you to play with him.
  7. Spay/Neuter your pet: Interestingly, spaying or neutering your pet can have positive health impacts. You reduce the chance of certain cancers, and pets are less likely to prowl the neighborhood.

Some feel that pet insurance is another way to save money, but you need to make sure that the benefits outweigh the costs, and that you have very specific idea of what you need in terms of coverage.

What are the ways you save money on pet expenses?

(Photo: ozstryker)

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Seven Tips for Saving Money on Pet Costs”

  1. Echo says:

    My wife clips the cats’ nails, but she used to work at a vet clinic and had done it many times before. This can be tricky for a lot of people though.

    I agree about over-feeding your pet, they don’t need to eat that much but will likely eat everything you put in front of them.

    • skylog says:

      i agree with your post. my gf does the exact same thing with her cat. even though he still hates it, he at least knows it will be over quick now and does not have to deal with the added stress outside the house.

      you also hit on another very important fact. too many people seriously overfeed their pets and do not provide a good diet for them. it will catch up in the long run, which no one wants.

  2. Hunter says:

    It’s easy to be caught with your guard down when they recommend services at the vet. The last thing I expect is for a dedicated animal lover, working part-time with animals, to be offering costly services that are unnecessary. They be as aggressive as the dentist when it comes to over servicing. It pays to do you your homework, like you suggest.

  3. zapeta says:

    We’ve skipped the pet insurance for ours…the coverage is really terrible for the price. We definitely comparison shop and use coupons for our pet food.

  4. I have a hamster that I care for a lot, but luckily there are few costs associated with it besides food, bedding, toys, and a comfortable home. If your pet is like a family member, you shouldn’t worry about spending money on it, but you should always look to get the most value out of the things you purchase no matter what. If you can’t afford to spend reasonable and necessary amounts of money taking care of your pet and keeping it happy, don’t get on.

  5. Yah, pet insurance is ridiculous! Pets should be cheap. Here’s another one, don’t shop at PETCO!

  6. My wife and I might be in the market for a new pet soon. I’ve never had a pet, so all I see is a big expense, but I suppose if we follow the advice above, it won’t be so bad.

    Thanks for the heads-up.

  7. Strebkr says:

    We found a clinic here that does annuals and all that goes with it for very cheap. We still have our normal vet, but this place is doing all the regular routine stuff.

  8. Charlene says:

    Pets are not cheap at all, and once you have them you must expect to spend money on them whenever needed. You might get an animal free from a shelter, but to keep the animal happy you must be willing to spend time, effort, and money on it since it becomes a part of your household and family. I treat my animal just as I would take care of any other living being in the house. Food expenses are not that much, but when we travel, boarding charges each day adds up to quite a bit. Before you can board the dog, they require that the dog is fully vaccinated, to prevent it from catching and passing on a disease. That means we have to spend on the Vet bills prior to our travels. If you take the dog with you, hotels have extra charges to let the dog stay with you in your room.
    A dog needs to go out everyday for a walk, be prepared to be taken for a walk each day no matter what the weather is like outside. You will get some fresh air and the dog will be pleased to spend quality time with you! The dog will be tired out and won’t try to find some thing to destroy around the house. Costs nothing but your time and effort, but benefits your body and your dog! No need to pay for a dog walker.
    The bark of a dog keeps troublemakers away from your house and calls your attention to matters that humans do not notice sometimes, thereby saving you the cost of a security alarm service.
    You get welcomed to your own home when you return. Priceless!

  9. Scott says:

    One story from past experience: I wanted to buy some typical dog flea medication and was looking for the best price. I found one of our local stores was selling it online for a great price but wanted an extra $9.99 in shipping. I figured I would go to the store to buy it to save the shipping costs. But then I got there and discovered that the in-store price was $10 higher than the online price. So it made zero difference how you ordered from them – what a disappointment. So now we’re much wiser and just sit at some, save on gas, and order online.

  10. kristen says:

    #6 is by far and away the most difficult.

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