Happy New Year! This past year has been a financially challenging one for many. Pet ownership is a serious, long-term financial commitment. High inflation and supply chain issues are just two of the many realities that have hit our pocketbooks. The good news: there are ways to make pet care budget-friendly while providing your pet the high-quality life they deserve. It just takes some creativity, thinking ahead, and a little research.
- Be Your Pet’s Trainer: Rather than pay a professional trainer, register or purchase a course that will help you master pet training skills. This option is much less expensive, and you can boost your skillset while you are at it. Many online courses are available; you can start with the courses available in DrJudyU.
- Use price comparison tools for Pet Insurance, Medication, and Supplies: Try a price comparison tool to find the best rates and prices. If the cost of pet insurance is not in your budget, consider starting a pet care “sinking fund”, setting money aside monthly to be used for veterinary bills. A CareCredit card can be used for routine and emergency veterinary visits and other procedures.
Sites like 1-800-PetMeds or RetailMeNot offer competitive prices, coupons, and rebates for your pet’s medication. Ask your veterinarian for a written prescription you can submit online or ask them if they will price-match the online fees. There also may be locally owned pet shops or pharmacies in your area that carry the medication you need for your pet for less money. Did you know “box store” chains such as Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s pharmacies serve pets as well as pet owners? Prices can vary considerably between pharmacies; spending a few minutes researching the options may be very worthwhile.
Even if you have a favorite store to shop from, it is a good idea to regularly perform a price comparison on the products you buy for your pets. Take advantage of sales at your favorite stores. Whether you shop in-person or online, do your research to make sure you take advantage of discounts, and other promotions. If you are having trouble making ends meet, reach out to companies you like to ask if they are running any specials, have any ongoing or planned sales, or if there are any coupons available. Like insurance and medication, there are price comparison tools on the web that compare prices for billions of products. You can also shop second-hand: items such as crates, sleeping supplies, and pre-loved toys in good condition will save you money as well as help the environment.
- Go DIY: Homemade treats are not only less expensive, but they are a healthier option in that they do not contain the preservatives and chemicals that store-bought treats might contain. Refer to the Naturally Healthy Pets website or Facebook page for homemade treat recipes. Even if you are not talented at sewing, the internet has thousands of ideas for do-it-yourself pet beds, furniture, and clothes.
- Be a Proactive Healthcare Manager: Proactive pet care, in the long run, is less expensive, as taking preventative measures allows for fewer vet visits. Taking good care of your pet includes providing a species-appropriate well-balanced diet, access to clean drinking water, and plenty of exercise. Whether you are home-cooking or buying commercial food, look for sales at local pet and grocery stores. Investing in high-quality food will save you a good deal of money on veterinary bills. Don’t neglect dental care such as teeth brushing and feeding raw meaty bones. Dental procedure costs can be very expensive if you neglect routine care. Don’t skip regular veterinary visits. An estimated one in three American pets will need emergency veterinary treatment every year. With steep costs for emergency veterinary visits, it’s wise to schedule regular check-ups to lessen the chances of needing urgent care.
- Find more Affordable Boarding and Day Care options: Finding a place to board your pet that you trust and that also has fair prices can be a struggle. Thankfully, with some research and shopping around, you can find something that fits your needs. You can save money on pet sitting and boarding if you can find family and friends that are willing to take care of your pet(s) when you are away from home. Consider setting up a pet sitting co-op and trade sitting and walking duties with family, friends, and neighbors.
- Find a Reasonably Priced Groomer or Groom your Pup Yourself: Even if you have been taking your pets to the same groomer for years, it never hurts to call around to other groomers and compare prices. Ask friends who they use — or better yet, invest in a grooming kit and learn how to do it yourself. Call a local groomer or veterinary office and ask their advice on how to groom your dog and if there are any hazardous areas to be aware of for the breed. I have learned how to groom my dogs myself, partly due to costs and partly due to their medical issues. The investment in a good set of clippers, combs, brushes, and shampoos was well worth the expense.
Being a pet owner is one of the most fun and rewarding roles. Your life wouldn’t be the same without them, but there’s no doubt that pets can get pricey. With a little extra planning and some creativity, you’ll be able to support your pet while putting your hard-earned cash where you need it most.