It’s no secret that in this country, we’re absolutely crazy about our pets, and we prove it every day at the cash register. Year after year, consumer spending on pets increases, topping $58 billion in 2014.
Believe me, I understand. There’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do (or buy) to keep my dog, Chilly, and my cats, Olivia and Turtle, happy and healthy. I make sure they eat good-quality food and receive regular vet care. I provide them with their own beds and perches to make their lives a little more comfortable. And I find it almost impossible to resist buying that cute little toy I just know they’ll love.
However, if I’m not careful, all these purchases can end up taking a big bite out of my wallet. And I know, from those statistics above, that I’m not alone. So how do we cut expenses without sacrificing quality and without placing a pet’s health and well-being at risk?
The good news is, you don’t have to resort to buying low-quality food and cheap, discount pet supplies! Here are five of my favorite money-saving tips from my book, “Pampered Pets on a Budget: Caring for Your Pet without Losing Your Tail.”
1. Buy pet food and litter in bulk.
Head out to your local warehouse store and purchase dry pet food in bulk, or buy larger quantities than usual from your regular pet store. This can save you anywhere from 10 to 30 percent. Store the majority of it in an airtight bin and leave out a week’s worth for easy use. If you feed canned food, many stores will give you a discount when you purchase it by the case. Another money saver is to choose the largest bag of cat litter, dividing it up into smaller containers at home to cut down on weight.
2. Sniff out savings on toys, crates, carriers and other pet items.
Pet toys, pet beds, crates and other infrequent but necessary pet purchases can be very expensive when paying retail. Pet owners can save money on these supplies by purchasing from less common sources. Some animal shelters have supply shops to help raise funds for the shelter’s work. Typically, this merchandise is priced lower than suggested retail. Secondhand shops and dollar stores often have terrific deals on everything from toys to dog beds. And don’t forget garage and yard sales as well as online classifieds. It may take a little searching but super savings await you should you find the item you need.
3. Do it yourself.
If your pet needs to be groomed on a regular basis, why not take care of some of these tasks yourself? Bathing, trimming nails, brushing teeth and cleaning ears can all be done at home, reducing the number of grooming visits.
If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can also try making your own pet toys, beds and doggie jackets. Have a would-be carpenter in your house? Cat trees are fairly easy and inexpensive to build at home, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. There are countless patterns, instructions and ideas online, ranging from beginner to expert. Just do a quick search for the item you’re thinking about making.
4. Get health care help.
Annual or bi-annual veterinary wellness visits are important because they provide an opportunity to monitor your pet’s health and to diagnose problems, or potential problems, early. Prevention is truly going to pay back the wallet, because treating medical problems is much more costly than avoiding them. Consider purchasing a pet insurance policy or start a pet health savings account to protect your pocketbook from unexpected veterinary costs. http://petcha.com/pet_care/all-about-pet-insurance-for-adult-dogs/
For pets who need medication, there are several smart ways to save. Many pet medications are available at human pharmacies and are often less expensive. (Ask for the generic equivalent, if available.) Most pharmacies these days also offer no- or low-charge prescription savings programs that can be extended to your pet. Also, be sure to ask your veterinarian to match online pharmacy prices. They often will do so to ensure you’re a happy client.
5. Adopt, instead of shop!
Adoption fees at a shelter or rescue are usually less than buying from a pet store or breeder. Those purebred or “designer dogs” may cost you several hundred to thousands of dollars. By comparison, adoption fees can start as low as $50, depending on the shelter or rescue. In addition, the one-time adoption fee typically includes spaying or neutering as well as routine vaccinations, and sometimes a microchip for identification, saving you a costly trip to the vet!
And, of course, by adopting a pet, you are saving one valuable life. And that is something that’s impossible to put a price on!