Smart Ways to Save Money on Pet Costs

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Wondering how to save money on pet costs? Pets hold an important place in many households and are often considered as a family member. However, the new “member” doesn’t come cheap and often leaves a hole in your wallet.

Smart Ways to Save Money on Pet Costs

Smart Ways to Save Money on Pet Costs

On average, an American household annually spends around $1200 on their pets, while dog owners spend even more – close to $1500. Some pet owners easily top those amounts, while others try to find smart ways to save money on pet costs.

Therefore, in today’s article we’ll show you how to save money on pet food, pet supplies, pet health and veterinary care.

1. Choose the Right Pet

If you are in the market for a new pet, you should consider your budget and lifestyle. You simply can’t make a decision based on the cuteness factor – you have to think about your pet’s needs first.

For example, if you are living in a small flat and have no time to walk your pet, then purchasing a dog would be a bad choice. In addition, you should research and find out what is the cost of having a pet, and make sure it fits your budget.

2. Bulk Shopping

The best way to save money on pet supplies is to buy in bulk at online pet retailers. For example, by buying larger bags of dog food or cat food containing natural ingredients at Petco, PetSmart or 1-800-Petmeds, you can reduce your pet supplies bill by 30%-50%. However, always make sure you are getting free shipping and check the expiration date to avoid wasting your money.

You can also sign up for a pet retailer rewards program, receive an initial “sign up” coupon and earn reward points that can be redeemed for discounts. In addition, it would be wise to sign up for manufacturers’ newsletters to receive sale notifications, coupons and special offers for pet supplies. Whenever you can, try pairing sales and store coupons with manufacturers’ coupons and you’ll be amazed how much money you’ll save.

3. Pet Food

The saying “you are what you eat” can be applied to our pets as well. The foods that pets eat do more than just fill their belly. It affects their quality of life, overall health, longevity and even behavior. Therefore, it’s crucial that we always buy quality pet food that contains valuable nutrients that will make them strong and healthy.

We always recommend buying brand-name pet food with ingredients recommended by the vet. When you are buying dog food or cat food, make sure to look for canned food with a high percentage of protein and pay attention to quality in terms of ingredients and nutrition.

You should also know that the pet food label can often be confusing and misleading as the companies use the same marketing strategies that they apply to human foods. So terms like “wild” or “all natural” don’t mean a thing. Instead, look for The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement, which is the only guarantee that pet food meets the organization’s standards.

In addition, always carefully observe your pet to see how he/she reacts to food. If they are not vomiting and the coat is nice and healthy, then you have found the right food.

Another great way to save money on pet food (especially dog food and cat food) is to prepare it yourself. Although it can be a little time-consuming, you can definitely save money by using ingredients from the refrigerator. In addition, you’ll know exactly what your pet is eating, and that’s priceless. You can always do a quick internet search with terms like “make dog food” or “homemade cat food” to find healthy and affordable ways of preparing the food for your loved ones.

For example, dog food and cat food recipes should include a protein source (found in liver, fish, eggs and muscle meat), a fat source (from fish, canola, olive or safflower oil), fiber-containing carbs (from barley, oats, sweet potato and brown rice) and a phytochemical source (from herbs, vegetables and fruits).

However, make sure you are not over-feeding your pet, as it could lead to serious health issues such as obesity and food bloat, and you would have to pay for the veterinary care. Therefore, do a proper research and find out exactly how much food your pet needs and stick to that amount. After all, your pet health comes first!

4. Pet Supplies and Toys

When it comes to pet supplies, the best way to save money is to shop online. You have a wide range of online retailers such as Amazon, HomeGoods, Petco, PetSmart, Marshalls, Wag.com and 1-800-Petmeds, and by investing time and doing proper research you can purchase pet supplies for the fraction of the price you usually pay.

For example, you can find pet toys, beds and water/food bowls at these online pet retailers for up to 50% less. You can also use discount gift cards from sites like Gift Card Granny and Cardpool and get a 35% discount on your favorite retailers of pet supplies.

Another great way to save money on pet supplies is to avoid purchasing pet-specific toys. Instead, use what you already have or purchase toys in a dollar store. For example, a bouncy ball for a child will be great for your pet as well. You can even make your own “toy” using basic household items, like paper.

In the end, your pet doesn’t care about the dollar value – he/she only needs your attention. So it’s pointless to spend money on collar and fancy toys, as pets will always rather play with you than a toy. So spend time with them and love them, and in return, they will be happy and love you even more.

5. Veterinary Care

We can all agree that pet health should be our main concern. Therefore, people looking to save money and make sure their pet is healthy should invest in preventive care.

Regular exams can save a pet’s life and the pet owner’s money by eliminating or reducing the risk of health problems that can be really expensive to treat. Emergency veterinary care usually costs several times more than a regular office visit. For example, treating a periodontal disease will cost a few hundred dollars for anesthetic, teeth extractions and dental x-rays.

With that being said, you should definitely schedule regular visits to the vet. A proper veterinary care will include necessary vaccines that will protect your pet from many diseases. In addition, it can help catch any problems early on and prevent health complications that can be easily avoided.

To save some money, avoid buying medication from your vet as it will usually cost more. Instead, purchase pet meds online at Petco, PetSmart or 1-800-Petmeds. You can visit all three websites, compare prices and get the cheapest medication. Alternatively, if you hate online shopping, you can find affordable pet medication in low price pharmacies at Walmart.

You can also invest in pet insurance, but there is no guarantee that it will turn out to be a good investment. Therefore, it would be better to self-insure by depositing a small amount each month and saving it for a pet emergency.

And finally, the best way to save money and prevent additional veterinary care is to make sure your pet exercises regularly. This will help support joint mobility, cardiovascular health, weight management and improve overall pet health.

Of course, pets don’t know how to exercise and they won’t do it on their own. You need to spend time with them and play, and that’s when they’ll be the most active. For example, you can go for a long walk with your pet or simply play with him/her indoors. The type of activity will greatly depend on the type of pet you have.

6. Grooming

Grooming your pet yourself is another way to save money and avoid paying a professional. You can learn how to trim the hair, cut nails and give them baths by watching YouTube tutorials. You can find affordable pet grooming supplies at 1-800-Petmeds.

However, if grooming on your own sounds scary, you can book an appointment at Petco or PetSmart and make sure your pet gets professional service at an affordable price.

Takeaway Notes

Having a pet is like having a family member – you are going to love them and care for them. However, pets will also “take away” a part of your monthly budget, as you’ll have to purchase pet food, pet supplies and pay for veterinary care, which can be quite expensive.

Therefore, you should save money on pet costs by purchasing at Petco, PetSmart and 1-800-Petmeds (they usually have the cheapest prices).

And finally, make sure you spend enough time with your pet because there’s no money in the world that can replace your affection.


Clark Howard is a media powerhouse and penny-pincher extraordinaire who knows a thing or two about money. A lifelong entrepreneur who is now the hugely popular host of a talk radio program and televis...
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