Whether you are an extravagant pet owner or not, responsibly raising an animal involves years of expenses. Granted, your child’s goldfish may only involve weeks of expenses, but you have to cough up some dough to care for any kind of animal. Many people don’t consider these costs before they commit to pet ownership. From food to regular veterinarian visits, most domestic animals require constant maintenance. Rather than put you off owning a pet altogether, we would like to offer you 57 creative ways to save money as a pet owner.
Acquiring a Pet
- Avoid “Puppy Mills” – Unless you want a show dog, buying a dog based on its exclusive pedigree is needlessly expensive. Animal activists even argue thatbreeding dogs is unethical. Besides, mutts often are the most lovable dogs.
- “Free To Good Home” – Many people find themselves with too many puppies or kittens after their pet has a litter. Ask friends or family in this situation for an animal and they will often give it to you for free. Also, you may happen upon a “free to good home” sign or classified ad in your travels.
- Take In a Stray – This is a good way to acquire a free animal, provided you are sure he/she is a stray and not someone’s lost pet.
- Contact a Rescue Group – There are many animal rescue groups that are looking for good homes to place animals with. If you are keen on having a specific breed, this is the more humane way of acquiring a pedigreed cat or dog.
- Work at a Pet Store – Working at a pet store will not only get you a company discount on pet products, you may be able to get a free or inexpensive pet through your connections.
- Limit Yourself – Can you really afford a pack of dogs or aquarium full of fish? Limit yourself on how many animals you acquire, as the costs will mount very quickly.
- Check the Local Paper – Free and inexpensive pets are often listed in the classified section of your local paper.
- Use Craigslist – Craigslist.org is a classified Web site that is free to the public. You can find almost anything on Craigslist, including pet advertisements. Also, you could post your own ad, expressing your desire for a free or inexpensive pet.
- Go to the Shelter – There are many animals at your local animal shelter who need good homes. The prices are fair and, if you are going to a shelter that euthanizes animals, you will be saving a life.
- Call Dibs On an Unborn Animal – If you know someone who has a pregnant animal or an animal that may become pregnant in the future, call dibs on one of its offspring. This may not yield you immediate results, but may secure you a free or inexpensive pet in the future.
- Don’t Tempt Thieves – Like cars, there are certain types of animals that are popular among thieves. Certain dog breeds, in particular, can fetch a high price for dognappers. Try not to obtain animals that people are looking to steal. If you already have one that is highly coveted, keep it out of public view.
- Buy a Low-Maintenance Pet – You don’t always have to get a dog or a cat for companionship. Rodents, for example, are easy pets to care for and relatively inexpensive in the long run.
- Get a Pet That Will Work For You – Whether it’s a backyard guard dog or a grass-munching goat, you can save money by acquiring a pet that offers something in addition to companionship.
- Avoid Rare Animals – Not only are exotic pets expensive to purchase and sometimes illegal to own, they are often very costly to care for. From birds to dogs, it is always cheaper to own a common, domestic animal.
- Use a Rewards Card – There are credit cards and grocery store cards that will help you save money when buying food for your pets. When applying for a credit card, make sure it is one with a low interest rate.
- Compare Store Prices – You may find that a pet superstore offers better prices than your supermarket, or vice versa. Don’t assume you are getting the best deal on food prices. Call around for price comparisons and keep your eye open for sales.
- Skip the Trendy, Expensive Foods – While you want to give your pet healthy foods and the occasional treat, he/she probably doesn’t need anything from the frozen section of your local pet store.
- Don’t Feed Your Pet Junk – On the flip side, the cheapest brand of food in the store could be the least healthy, leading to higher health care costs. Consult your veterinarian on what kind of frugal food is safe to purchase.
- Feed Your Pet Less – Is your pet eating more than the recommended amount? Only distribute as much as the packaging suggests. You will be saving in food costs and health care costs if your animal maintains a healthy weight.
- Use Coupons – Manufacturer and store coupons can save you a lot of money in the long run, particularly if you use them during double or triple coupon events.
- Buy In Bulk – You will always need food for your pet, so buying in bulk will not be a wasted investment. This could be a way to save a considerable amount of money. Check your local price club, such as Sam’s Club or Costco.
- Don’t Let Wet Food Spoil – If you are feeding your animal canned, wet food, feed them a little at a time and store the rest where it won’t spoil.
- Don’t Share Your Pet’s Food – With other critters and insects, that is. Leaving your animal’s food bowl where it can be picked at by strays or swarmed by ants is a surefire way to waste money.
- Keep Food Out Of the Rain – If your pet’s food bowl is always outside, be sure to protect it from the rain.
- Grow Your Own Pet Food – While this will only work for certain animals, avegetable garden can be cost-effective for the whole family (including your pet rabbit).
- Brush Your Pet’s Teeth – This is a service provided by your veterinarian and/or groomer that you can do on your own for a fraction of the price. A toothbrush can be found at your local pet store.
- Clean Your Pet’s Ears – Doing this on your own will save in grooming fees and in health care costs, as your animal will get fewer earaches.
- Trim Your Pet’s Hair – If you have a long-haired pet that requires frequent haircuts, you can do this at home with a grooming kit that costs less than $100. Usually, this kit will pay for itself with one haircut. However, take your time and be careful, as you don’t want to nick your pet’s skin.
- Trim Your Pet’s Nails – Rather than paying someone to do this, trim your animal’s nails with a special tool from your local pet store. This may also save money in reducing household destruction by your pet’s unruly claws.
- Wash Your Own Pet – Sure, it’s a pain to do sometimes, but why would you pay someone else to do it? If you are the owner of a large dog, even investing in an outside dog bath will save money.
- Regularly Brush Your Pet’s Coat – This is especially important for long-haired dogs. Regular brushing will help to maintain your animal’s appearance without sending him/her to a groomer. This also cuts back on loose hair on your clothes and furniture, reducing the need for dry cleaning.
- Trim the Hair Short – Just like your lawn, you will have to trim your animal’s hair less if it is cut short.
- Dilute Your Pet’s Shampoo – To make your pet shampoo stretch further, pour half of one bottle into an empty bottle and top both of them off with water.
- Attend All Well Visits – Don’t postpone your animal’s regular visits to the veterinarian. Even if he/she is healthy and thriving, their check-ups will keep them that way.
- Don’t Get Unnecessary Shots – Ask your veterinarian what your animal absolutely has to have shots for this year. Recommendations change all the time, so stay on top of it and make sure you aren’t spending needless money.
- Make Sure Your Pet Exercises – You’re not the only one who needs to get more cardio. A sedentary animal will experience more health problems, costing you more money (and heartbreak).
- Think About Medical Insurance – While your hermit crab won’t benefit from it, some animals will be cheaper to maintain if they have an insurance policy. Some affordable plans will cover all routine visits and shots.
- Spay/Neuter Your Pet – Doing this will reduce your animal’s chances of developing certain reproductive cancers. Also, he/she will be less likely to stray from home and get hurt.
- Find an Affordable Veterinarian – Some animal clinics will see your pet on a sliding scale, should you be under financial strain. Also, local universities with a veterinarian program may see patients for less money than a regular office.
- Find Inexpensive Shot Clinics – When it the time comes for your pet to get his/her shots, look for low-cost clinics to save money. Your veterinarian’s office may host shot clinics a few times a year. Also, you can check with the Humane Society for information on shot clinics.
- Ask Your Veterinarian For Samples – Like any other doctor, your veterinarian receives samples from drug companies. Request free samples if your animal needs any kind of medication.
- Compare Pharmacy Prices – Don’t assume that your pet’s medication is going to be the same price at every pharmacy. If you are about to buy something expensive or if your pet is put on chronic medication, call around town and get the best deal.
- Don’t Use Over-the-Counter Flea Products – Many inexpensive flea treatments for dogs and cats are actually quite toxic. Consult your veterinarian about your pet’s flea problem, not your groomer or your local pet store. Though you may think you are saving money with such products, you are actually risking high medical bills or even your pet’s life.
- Research Common Household Dangers – Do you know which household plantsare toxic to your pet or which foods you should absolutely not feed your dog from the table? A little online research on a credible animal care site can save you a bundle in medical bills.
- Keep Your Pet Indoors – Outdoor animals tend to get into more accidents and contract more illnesses.
- Mail Order Medications – Monthly prescriptions, such as your dog’s heartworm medication, can be purchased with a credit card through various mail order services. Research this service beforehand, however, and make sure the company you use is reputable.
Toys & Supplies
- Give Your Cat Something to Scratch – Doing this is cheaper than reupholstering your furniture. A few scratching posts will suffice, which you should place near the cat’s food and next to the cat’s bed.
- Recycle Your Children’s Toys – Did your baby grow out of his/her teething rings(great for a puppy who is teething) or stuffed animals? There may be something in the collection that can be passed down to your playful pet.
- Use Household Items as Toys – Not just a cliche image, a ball of yarn is something that cats really do enjoy. That is one of many inexpensive things around the house that your pet can play with.
- Skip the Wardrobe – Does your pet really need to wear little sweaters and costumes? You may think the outfits look cute, but they are really a waste of money.
- Use Alternative Cat Litter – Refilling your cat’s litter box can really add up, so try an alternative. From sand to wood pellets, some people have made the switch without kitty ever noticing. Do make sure that whatever you use is safe for your cat, however. If you’re really ambitious, you could always toilet train your cat.
- Buy a Durable Leash – A leash endures a lot of wear and tear, so buy a heavy-duty one that is appropriate to your animal’s size.
- Choose a Practical Collar – Your pet doesn’t need a designer collar, rather one that is safe and long-lasting.
- Forgo the Fancy Tags – You will be issued a tag for your dog or cat when you get him/her licensed, so don’t waste your money with some fancy, personalized tag service that is often advertised at the pet store.
- Make a Dog Bed – Buying a dog bed is unnecessary, as most indoor dogs are easily trained to sleep on the floor. However, a dog that prefers something soft can be given an old quilt or folded sheet to sleep on.
- Assemble Your Own Doghouse – If you are handy with wood projects, thenassembling a pet shelter from scrap should be no problem and is much less expensive than commercial doghouses.
- Attend Garage Sales – You can find many pet accessories, particularly children’s toys that your pet will love, at garage sales for cheap.
Owning a pet can be costly, though animals offer many emotional benefits. While we aren’t suggesting that you deprive your pet of any comfort, there are many expenses you can forgo as a pet owner. By following some of the above advice, you can save money in areas you never knew possible.