Pet Care on a Budget
Pets can be expensive, with thousands of dollars in vet care, supplies, food and more. But savvy pet owners can take very easy steps to lessen the cost of pet care without giving up their furred, feathered or scaled companions.
Some Pets Are Cheaper Than Others
The first – and most effective – step to pet care on a budget is to choose a less expensive pet. While different breeders and retailers offer pets for different prices, these general guidelines can help you choose a pet for a smaller budget.
Purebred or Mixed: Purebred dogs and cats generally have higher price tags, plus they are not as resistant to different diseases and health conditions as mixed-breed pets. Pets with a long, pure bloodline may be more subject to inbreeding conditions as well.
Purchase or Adoption: Pet shelters, rescues and adoption facilities generally have lower prices than pet stores or breeders. Furthermore, adopted pets are generally spayed or neutered, microchipped and updated on essential vaccinations, all costs that owners will have to pay for pets from stores, though breeders vary in what their pets come with.
Pet Size: Larger pets generally have more expensive needs, including more food, space and supplies. Medications or vaccinations may be more costly for larger pets, and boarding can also be more expensive. In rental properties, having large pets may mean bigger security deposits or fines for having pets that aren't permitted.
- Age: Younger pets are generally more expensive to adopt or purchase, and kittens, puppies and other young pets require more initial care such as vaccinations, neutering and other procedures that may already be complete on older pets. Younger pets are also more likely to need additional training or may cause expensive damage with chewing, clawing or housebreaking accidents.
Save On All Your Pet Care
Regardless of what type of pet you have, there are ways to trim your pet care budget. By taking a few simple steps, you can slash the costs of owning a pet without compromising the quality of your pet's life.
Food: Good quality food may be more expensive, but you will need to feed your pet less to meet their nutritional needs and the same size bag may last longer. Practice portion control to make food last longer, and consider augmenting your pet's meals with healthy table scraps you would normally throw away. Buy food in bulk, and investigate loyalty clubs that offer good savings. Always price shop between retailers to find the best prices on your preferred foods.
Gear: From cages, crates and dishes to leashes, toys, brushes, beds and more, pets need a lot of equipment for the proper care. Check for items on sale, and investigate thrift stores or classifieds for good deals. Simplify your pet's needs, such as using a knotted sock for a tug-of-war toy instead of an expensive rope toy, or use basic plastic food containers for food and water instead of specially engineered pet dishes.
Veterinary Care: A pet with health issues can quickly rack up expensive medical bills, but if you keep your pet healthy with preventative care, they will need fewer emergency visits and unexpected procedures. Feed your pet a quality diet and be sure they get enough exercise. Brush their teeth regularly to prevent dental problems, and keep all vaccinations updated. When pets do need veterinary care, consider purchasing medications online instead of at the vet's office, and speak to your vet about payment plans if needed.
Boarding: If your pet will need to be boarded while you work, travel or otherwise have to be away, check for different services at different prices. Ask friends, family members and neighbors if they will trade pet care, or hire a local student to pet-sit. Prepaying for boarding services can also lead to good savings.
Grooming: Pets that need regular grooming services can have extensive beauty care budgets, but pet owners can easily ease that cost by learning many grooming techniques. Learn how to bathe your pet and provide basic grooming such as trimming nails or cleaning ears. If your groomer offers different levels of service, opt for basic trims or pet cuts rather than more elaborate and expensive show cuts, and avoid extraneous services such as pet toenail polish.
- Spaying and Neutering: If you need to spay or neuter your pet, look for a local clinic that provides these services at a discount. Having these procedures done can also help you avoid the unexpected costs associated with an unwanted pregnancy or litter, and if your pet is fixed, they are less likely to develop some problems associated with reproductive health. Some cities also have lower licensing costs for pets that are neutered.
Another option many pet owners don't investigate is the idea of trading services to lower their pet care budget. If you have a professional skill to offer – tax preparation, website development, housecleaning, construction work, car repair, etc. – speak with your veterinarian, groomer or local pet store owner about swapping services. You can not only save money on pet care this way, but may also get a new professional referral from the exchange.
No matter how much your pet costs, there are ways to trim your budget and still give your pet the very best care so they live a long, healthy, happy and inexpensive life.