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How dog and cat owners can save money

Posted by Jennifer on February 8th, 2011

1187284_piggy_bankMost good dog or cat owners know that owning a pet is never a cost-free commitment! While adopting an awesome new family friend from the shelter may not be expensive, you do need to budget for future spending. A good pet owner knows that pets require a lifetime of care, including vet costs, food, toys, and other supplies. But thrifty pet owners know that there are some smart ways to save money while still providing an excellent quality of life for their pets. Below are some great ideas from good caring pet owners to cut costs, and also a list of places where paying a premium price up front can save you money in the long run.

Save money right away:

1. Coupons and sales
Wow you can save a lot of money if you keep an eye on your local pet supply stores and manufacturers’ websites! Cat litter is just one example of a product that can sometimes go on sale or have a coupon that can save you lots, and you can stock up on non-perishables like litter so you’ll have plenty to last until the next sale/coupon.

2. Pet Toys
Dog and cat toys can be pricey! Especially if you have a dog that’s an expert destuffer or destructor! The first cost-saving tip is to buy indestructible toys. There are also many ways you can make your own pet toys for next to nothing! Check out our How to Make a Sock Toy article – this can be adapted for cat toys too, just use baby socks! Also check out your local dollar store and yard sales for inexpensive new or barely used toys. For cats, you can get free sturdy cardboard boxes from stores (they usually just throw them away), all you have to do is turn them on their side, and maybe cut a hole or two!

3. Pet Beds
Dogs and cats seem to absolutely appreciate a really comfy bed! Older pets especially benefit from a soft but supportive napping surface. You can shop online for sales and great deals, but often you can save lots of money (especially for bigger dogs) re-purposing a human product for your pet. Some ideas:

  • Fold a twin-size futon in half or thirds.
  • Buy a pet bed replacement COVER only, and fill it with stained or ripped sheets, towels & blankets (you can buy these inexpensively at thrift stores) OR an “egg crate” foam mattress topper folded in half or quarters.
  • Use couch cushions from old couches that are being discarded.
  • Cats and small dogs often love a plush towel that’s been folded up to just their size. You can sew the sides together or (if you can’t sew) use iron-on hemming material to keep it from unfolding.

4. Spay or neuter your pet!
Fixed pets have fewer health problems so vet bills are lower. They are less likely to bite, avoiding potential costly lawsuits (80% of dog bites to humans are from intact male dogs). They are less likely to try to escape and do damage to your home or yard, or cause a car accident. Here are even more  reasons to spay or neuter.

5. Don’t breed your pet
Chances making a profit from breeding a pet are practically non-existent, especially if you are giving the mom and then the puppies/kittens the proper vet care (extra food, vaccinations, deworming, checkups) they need throughout the pregnancy and the first 8 weeks of life. The chance of a pregnant dog or cat having SUPER costly complications far outweigh the chance for making a profit – even if you are able to sell all the offspring. Aside from all that, the moral price of breeding a pet wipes out any insignificant financial gain. By breeding you are contributing to the pet overpopulation even if you do find them all homes -  homes that could have taken in a homeless pet instead.

6. Low cost vet days
Your vets may offer low-cost services on certain days. All you have to do is ask your vet, and potentially to save money! See #2 below though, as skimping on vet care can end up costing you more in the long run. This tip is just to save you money on the same services (like vaccines, or microchips) that good pet owners provide for their pets. Also, some vet offices offer discounts for multiple pets – again, just ask!

7. Keep cats inside & dogs safely contained
Cats that go outside are exposed to costly illnesses and injuries. Dogs that run loose in unfenced in areas are also exposed to those same dangers. Keeping your pet safe saves you money!

Save money in the long run:

1. Quality pet food
While it might seem less expensive at first to buy a cheap pet food, a high quality pet food typically means a healthier pet. Healthier = less vet bills. Also, check out the feeding instructions and do some math, you will probably find the cost per serving of  the “more” expensive foods actually works out to a lower cost per feeding for your pet, with better nutrition!

2. Vet care
You may think your pet is healthy, why pay for an annual or bi-annual vet visit? Catching many health issues early on can be a HUGE cost-saving move. Especially in older pets, blood panels or even just a physical exam by a vet can detect symptoms early on, and allow them to help you take preventative steps to avoid a condition progressing and becoming more costly (and difficult) to cure.

3. Vet insurance
This tip requires some calculation, and depends on the policy you choose and what your pet qualifies for. We believe that having vet insurance is a sound financial decision – just like having car, home or human health insurance. Especially if you have a purebred pet, or a pet that ever goes outside, the right policy from a good vet insurance company can definitely save you money in case of an accident or serious illness.

Wondering how much a owning a pet might cost you each year? Check out our Average Cost of Owning a Dog or Cat article next.

 
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