According to the ASPCA, pet ownership can cost more than $1,000 during the first year and over $500 each additional year1.
If you’re looking for ways to tame some of these expenses, here are some tips to care for your pet on a budget:
Do it yourself
From basic grooming to obedience training, pet costs can add up. However, if you’re willing to put in the time, you might be able to perform these tasks yourself.
It’s important to remember that pet safety should always be your top priority. If you feel uncertain about performing a particular task, ask a veterinarian or animal health professional for guidance. It might also be helpful to learn more about basic preventative tasks that most pet owners can do at home.
Here are some common examples of DIY pet care:
- Basic healthcare - DIY healthcare can be a great way to reduce your visits to the groomer and veterinarian. Basic tasks that you can perform at home includes regular bathing, brushing teeth and ear cleaning. It may also be good to inspect your pet’s paws on a weekly basis and clip their nails when needed.
- Training - If you own a pet capable of being trained, teaching it basic manner skills could provide mental stimulation and deepen your mutual bond2. Instead of paying for professional classes, search the Internet for free pet training advice and do it at home.
- Toys and bedding - Do you have a stray sock and a plastic water bottle lying around? Combine the two and make a sock puppet. What about some old paper bags and a worn out t-shirt? Use them to make DIY hamster bedding. With a little creativity, you could save money by turning everyday household items into new pet supplies.
Comparison shopping can be a great way to find the lowest price for products and services you need for your pet.
Whether you need to buy bird food in bulk or find the best priced veterinarian in town, some things to shop around for may include:
- Food - If you like to shop online, there are many pet food comparison websites that categorize results by animal and food type. If you prefer to shop locally, check for sales and buy in bulk when the price is right. Both approaches could result in money saved.
- Veterinarian - When searching for a vet, it may help to read online reviews and ask pet owners that you trust for recommendations. Next, compile a list of potential candidates and find out what they charge for common services. Once your research is complete, this information should help you make a decision based on both value and experience.
- Medicine - Your vet may prescribe medication for your pet but that doesn’t mean you have to buy it from them. Instead, research the prices at online and mail order companies or look for generic versions at your local drug store. Unless your pet needs the medicine right away, you could save some by exploring your options.
Sign up and save
Like many clothing and grocery stores, some pet retailers offer weekly and seasonal newsletters featuring sales on their products. Other pet supply companies also feature a rewards program where customers can receive special discounts and points per purchase that can add up to big savings over time.
Here are a few opportunities to look out for:
- Subscribe to newsletters - Are you loyal to a specific brand? Sign up for their weekly or monthly newsletter. Benefits of this subscription may include special offers, coupons and advanced notice of sales events.
- Collect rewards points - There are many pet care loyalty programs that can help you save in different ways. For example, if you anticipate a large, expensive purchase in the future, it may be useful to accumulate points over time and use them toward a big ticket item.
- Get free samples - Some manufacturers provide free samples to see if potential customers (and pets) like a new product. The next time you visit a pet store or vet’s office, ask if they have free samples available. You can also search online for free product samples for pets and animals.
The best care on a budget
While some pet costs are inevitable, others can be avoided or reduced with the right approach. As a pet parent on a budget, it’s up to you to find ways to save money without compromising the wellbeing of your pet. Once you discover the right balance, you’ll be on track to spend many happy and healthy years together.