(written by Carrie P.)
I share my home with three furry four-legged creatures—two rescued cats and one rescued dog.
Here are some suggestions on minimizing pet expenses.
1. Adopt. You’ll save the life of a furry friend. You’ll save money over buying a pure breed pet. AND mixed breed pets have less health issues over their lives than do pure breed pets.
2. Feed your pet quality food. Check out http://pettraxinc.com/choosing-quality-pet-food/ for some information on choosing good food.
Other ways to save on pet food and treats:
- Use coupons. Check out the same sources you'd use for grocery coupons.
- Use loyalty cards or frequent buyer programs. Large chains often offer discount cards. Many pet stores also buy-X-bags-of-Y-food-get-one-bag-of-Y-food-free programs.
- Consider Amazon’s or Chewy’s Subscribe & Save. You'll get 15% off and free shipping.
- Buy in bulk. Buy the largest size you'll actually use. If you're buying canned food, buy by case.
- Compare prices at various stores. You'd be surprised. Pet food isn't necessarily cheaper at the pet store than it is at the grocery store.
- Make your own.
3. Maintain your pet’s good health.
This means GETTING YOUR DOG OR CAT SPAYED OR NEUTERED. (Yes, I’m shouting.)
There are a number of low-cost options in the Rochester area, but most are income-qualified. One that has not income limitations is the Friends of Animals voucher program. I used this to get my dog neutered more than 15 years ago. You can read more about it here: https://www.friendsofanimals.org/spay_neuter_certificate_information
It also means yearly vet visits—and getting and keeping up on all routine shots. This is one of those areas where an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure (heartworm, rabies.)
If your pet needs to take medications regularly, find out if it’s available at your local pharmacy. If it is, shop around for the best price. You can try http://www.GoodRX.com to easily compare prices. And don’t forget to check Costco! You do NOT have to be a Costco member to use their pharmacy services!
While I recommend finding a vet you like, if your pet is young and healthy, you can save money by visiting a vaccination clinic. If you have a veterinary college in your area, you may be able to save by seeing a veterinary student or visiting a clinic. Remember that our dogs and cats age at a faster rate than we do. So regular care is terribly important. Skipping a dog or cat’s annual vet visit is like you not having a physical for 10 years. Rochester Community Animal Clinic could be a good option for you. And most of the pets stores in our area have at least monthly vaccination clinics.
Also, take your pet to the vet when he or she shows signs of illness. Unless you know what you’re dealing with, don’t “wait it out.”
If you find your pet needing unexpected care, there are a number of sources that might be able to help. Each has different requirements to qualify for financial aid. These may be disease-specific or income-based:
You can also consider CareCredit. I rarely use my credit cards, but they provide six months interest free to pay the expenses.
4. Grooming. Regular brushing and bathing is important for all doggies and kitties. To keep expenses low, consider a pet with low grooming needs. If it’s too late, or you just MUST have a standard poodle, then consider learning to groom the pet yourself. A happy medium may be a visit to the “dog wash” where you bathe, brush and dry your pet then leave the mess behind.
5. Toys. Toys can be expensive. Check out holiday clearance at pet stores to save. Also, discount stores like Tuesday Morning, Big Lots and Ollie’s can be great places to score good quality pet toys at discount. Don’t forget to check out Target, TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. You can also make your own. Here’s a tutorial on how to make a fleece tug toy: http://makingithomeblog.com/tutorial-fleece-tug-toy-dogs/.
6. Dishes. Cute little ceramic pet bowls can cost $5 or more. I buy small bowls at the thrift store for about a quarter each and use those. The dog and cats don’t seem to care what the food’s served in.
7. Keep pets close by. Pets who leave your yard unattended are more likely to come into contact with other animals that are carrying illness and/or hazards.
"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."