7 Ways to Save Money on Pets

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Pet food, vaccinations, and medical care all add up quickly. In today’s tough economy, people are cutting their budgets in any way they can. Here are some tips that will help you keep your pet in good health while saving money.

1. Pet food. You may be tempted to feed your dog (or cat) top dollar food, but that isn’t always necessary. You don’t want to feed them the cheapest food (it’s just stuffed with fillers liked corn which means they’ll need to eat more), but you also don’t want to spend $80 on a bag of food that you will, literally, be scooping up later. Going middle-of-the-road on pet food is usually best, so check out all of your options. When switching your pet’s food, allow 7-10 days for the transfer. Start off by giving 3/4 of the old food and 1/4 of the new food, then 1/2 and 1/2, then 1/4 and 3/4.

2. Feeding time. Don’t overfeed your animal. While many will eat until they’re stuffed, it’s not good to feed them too much. You want your pet to be healthy and active, so follow your vet’s recommendations on how much to feed them. If you aren’t sure, you can always check the back of the food package.

3. Socialization. Dog parks can cost upwards of $50 a year for membership. Instead of paying a fee for your dog to socialize, try finding other dog owners in your area that are willing to swap yards with you! What I mean by that is, one week you take Fido to Sally’s house to play with Ginger, and the next week Sally brings Ginger to your house to play with Fido. If you both have large yards, this will work out perfectly. If not, consider finding a park that is free. It may be off the beaten path, but if you visit the park regularly it may be worth it.

4. Training. Instead of paying hundreds of dollars for a private trainer, check out pet store chains like PetSmart and PetCo. They offer obedience training classes that are very affordable.

5. Vet bills. Start a pet savings account if you aren’t going to carry health insurance on them. Vet bills can be thousands of dollars, easily, if something is wrong with your furbaby. A pet savings account is a good way to make sure you are prepared for anything.

6. Grooming. If you have a long haired animal, it might be a bit more difficult to groom him yourself, but that is definitely something you need to consider when picking out a pet. You can easily shampoo your dog yourself, but trimming their nails should be left up to a professional unless you know what you’re doing. You can also treat your pt for ticks, fleas, and heart worms without an expensive trip to the vet – just check out your local pet store and they can help you.

7. Buy used. Check craigslist for supplies like leashes and crates. Instead of spending $100 on a new pet taxi, consider purchasing a used one for $50 or less. With multiple pets, the savings can definitely add up quickly.


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  • Rachel Erickson

    As a certified vet tech, I always cringe a little when I see most money-saving tips for pets people post online. However, these are pretty good! I have just a few things to add:
    1. Ground cooked corn is not a filler. It may not be a top-of-the-line ingredient, but it is pretty well digested and a decent source of protein and other nutrients. Also, it is not nearly the evil, allergy-inducing ingredient that many people make it out to be. As far as food allergies go, dogs are more likely to be allergic to beef and dairy than pretty much anything else. 🙂
    2. Feeding estimates on food bags are based on intact (not spayed/neutered), young, active animals. This means that if your pet lives a more typical lifestyle, the amount recommended on the bag could be as much as 30% more than he/she needs. A lean, healthy weight dog will have a visible waist from the top, a “tuck” up in the abdomen between the ribs and back legs from the side, and have ribs that can easily be felt with only light pressure when you run your fingers along the middle of your dog’s side. (It’s often easier to feel ribs at the bottom of the chest than the middle. Make sure you can feel them in both places!)
    3. Training. PetSmart/Co are more affordable than a private trainer, but some vet clinics have classes that are even less. Puppy classes especially can be cheaper at private clinics.
    4. Heartworm prevention medication is prescription only, for good reason, and cannot be purchased over the counter (at least in the US). If a dog already has heartworms and then gets medication intended to prevent them, the dog could die. Seriously. It’s not common, but it happens. Even treating a heartworm-positive dog with the appropriate medication carries unavoidable risk, and the dog needs supervision and complete activity restriction. My preferred flea prevention medication is fipronil. The name brand is Frontline, but there are generics. HOWEVER, Frontline also has s-methoprene, which is something called an insect growth regulator and really does make a difference in how well the fleas are controlled longer-term. The combination of fipronil and s-methoprene is still under patent, and only Frontline has it. To save money, pay attention to the weather. Frontline is good for up to three months for fleas, and one month for ticks. Ticks prefer slightly cooler weather, so if it’s 80 degrees or above most of the day you’d only need to worry about them if you’re going to be in a wooded area or somewhere with a lot of tall grass. Flea collars are a waste of money, and you should ALWAYS check weight/age limits on any flea and tick product before you use it on your animals. And NEVER use a dog product on a cat.

    That’s it! Btw, I’m a stay-at-home mom now, so there’s no way I could benefit financially from any of this advice. 😉

  • Cheryl

    You can check with local vets, as some in our area (Chicagoland), are offering monthly or quarterly clinics for otherwise healthy dogs. They offer reduced priced vaccinations and nail trims with the donation of any single package of dog food and treat items which you can acquire for very cheap or free with couponing. The lines are long at times but right now I have more time than money and want to make sure my dog stays healthy and up to date of his shots.