Furry Finances: 5 ways to care for your pets without overspending
We know that most people treat their pets like part of their family. Those little fur babies give unconditional love and acceptance and can bring incredible joy and companionship into your life. Heck, they don’t care what’s for dinner, if the house is clean, or if you’re still in your pajamas at noon. They think you’re the best person in the world, no matter what.
Spending time with your pet and taking care of them is how we reward them for their friendship. You have to admit it, though. It can get expensive. Those antler chews aren’t cheap, and that gourmet dog food isn’t gonna pay for itself.
Here are a few money-saving tips for keeping your pet happy, healthy, and fit!
1. Adopt from a shelter
If you’re interested in adding a four-legged friend to your family, check out the local shelters. Plan your visit so you can spend time getting to know any of the pups you might consider for adoption. All dogs in the shelter will be spayed or neutered and be up to date on all their vaccinations before they leave the facility, which can be a significant savings. Adult dogs are likely to be potty trained and maybe even micro-chipped.
The staff is especially helpful, too, with details about a potential pet’s personality and preferences. And, because the shelters deal with veterinarians in the area, many will also gift you with a coupon for a discounted or free first visit to the vet.
If you’re looking for a particular breed of dog, some rescue organizations are breed-specific. Petfinder is also a good option since you can search for a certain breed and even set up an alert when one becomes available.
In the end, you can adopt a pet for significantly less than purchasing one from a breeder. Whether they’re full bred or a mix, they’ll love you forever.
2. Keep your pet happy and healthy
Many dogs (and cats) are overweight, which can increase their chances for developing health issues and diseases like cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Make sure Fido gets enough exercise, eats right, and goes easy on the treats!
It’s also important to stay current on any vaccines or medications, like flea and tick and heartworm prevention. Be proactive with vet visits, and you’re more likely to avoid costly health issues and big medical bills down the road.
If your pup does get sick, some minor illnesses can be treated with over-the-counter medications that you already have in your medicine cabinet, like Imodium, Benadryl, and antibiotic ointments. Always check with your vet first, but here‘s a list of common OTC medications that are safe for pets.
3. Be picky with your food purchase
Feeding your pet can take a big bite out of your budget! You don’t need to be eating PB&J when your dog is licking his lips after chowing down on a juicy T-bone steak. Be a smart shopper and hunt down some bargains.
High cost does not necessarily mean high quality. Sometimes you’re paying extra just because the word premium is printed on the bag. Check the list of ingredients and choose a brand of food that includes the least amount of filler, which provides little or no nutritional value for your pet. Compare prices among big box pet stores, grocery stores, and online companies. Combine a coupon with free shipping and consider subscribing for additional savings. Many online pet supply stores offer digital coupons and a 5% discount when you auto ship throughout the year. The best part? They deliver it to your front door, so you don’t have to lug that big bag home from the grocery store!
4. Groom at home
When Rover needs grooming every month, it can really break the bank! If you’re not too keen on tackling a wet dog at home, try a DIY self-service wash. Many grooming facilities provide large, elevated tubs and all the dog wash supplies. It’s less expensive than the full-service option, and there’s no mess at home!
If your pooch needs a haircut, opt for the shortest style so you can stretch the time between visits to the salon. If you’re up for the challenge, you can even learn to groom your own dog. You’ll need to buy the necessary tools, but you’ll save more than their cost with your dog’s first new do.
5. Get routine services at a discounted price
All dogs need to visit the vet for an annual exam, but be sure to call around and compare prices. Some offer a free initial exam, a discount on your first visit, or monthly specials on different services.
For vaccines and medication at a more reasonable price, opt for a mobile vet clinic that travels to different locations – like your favorite groomer’s salon — on a standard schedule. Without the overhead of a traditional vet, they’re able to charge less for the same services. Take proof of your vaccines to your primary vet so they always have an updated record.
You can love your pets to the moon and back, but that’s no reason to spend more money on their care than necessary. When you’re able to trim a few dollars off your monthly expenses, it can make a big difference in your budget. It might even free up a few extra bucks for a special treat!