How to Save Big on Pet Care
Pets can be costly, but they don’t have to be. From choosing your furry (or scaled, or feathered or tentacled) friend to bringing him/her home to caring for their health and well-being every day, there are plenty of ways to cut cost without sacrificing quality.
1. Save money on vet bills by vaccinating at home.
This isn’t for everyone, but if you have experience with animals and can stomach giving a shot or two then you can save a good deal of money by vaccinating at home. Stores like Tractor Supply Company and local feed and tack shops often carry the routine vaccinations that cats, dogs and even horses need but you can also find them online. I purchased a vaccine from Tractor Supply that contained all of the firsts for my Malamute-Shepherd mix and had my fiancée administer the vaccine at home. Not only was our puppy much less stressed out, but we avoided exposing him to the risk of Parvo and other rampant illnesses by sitting on a vet’s table. NOTE: Be sure that you know how to give a shot. Do research and consult a vet if you have any questions. This can only be done for certain vaccines, while others, like rabies, should be administered by a veterinarian.
2. Buy Pet Insurance
One of the most costly aspects of owning a pet is paying not only for costly routine checkups but emergency procedures and visits as well. These can be even more expensive if your pet ever needs after-hours emergency care and has to see an emergency vet. Minimize the costs by planning ahead and investing a small amount every month to save big when the time comes.
How much is pet insurance for dogs and cats? Plans vary, but tend to hover anywhere from a few dollars to the early twenties per month. Do some research to compare pet insurance plans online, but be wary of offers that seem too good to be true or insurance company websites that seem spammy or low quality. They may well be offering coverage, but if the reputable vets in your area don’t accept their plan then you’ll be wasting your money. Ask your veterinarian or other pet owners for recommendations and be sure to choose a plan that will cover routine visits and vaccinations as well as emergency procedures.
TIP: When determining what types if coverage are and aren’t worth the cost, be sure to consider your pet’s breed. Depending on the breed and size, your animal may be at a high risk for developing some health problems and a low risk for others. By knowing what risks your pet is likely to face, you can make an educated decision on which insurance plan is right for you.
3. Raw feeding.
Raw meat is extremely good for dogs and cats alike, and in fact, most animals could benefit from a raw diet. Not only is it better for them but you can score raw meat in bulk for super cheap and often free! Develop a relationship with farmers, hunters and butchers in your area. Ask at the deli counter if they have any scraps of unsellable meat that you can take home for your pup. They might charge you at first, but eventually they’ll get to know you and many will set aside bones, organs, byproducts and often non-choice slices of meat for you – for free!
4. Buy pet food in bulk.
I feed two cats, a ravenous puppy, a ball python and a rat for under $15/month. I buy large bags of food that last a long time. Your pet isn’t going to get tired of eating, so while it may seem cheaper to grab for the small bag when you’re in the pet food aisle, you’re spending more money in the long run. TIP: Keep bulk quantities of kibble fresher for longer by storing them in air-tight containers with a scoop for easy serving. This will ensure that nothing goes to waste.
5. Clip (or download) coupons.
Many people overlook the fact that coupons aren’t just for “people food.” I score major deals on pet foods by contacting manufacturers, scouring the local paper and printing out coupons online for my favorite products. Many stores often double these as they do with any other coupons.
6. Get free pet food samples.
Pet food is a commonly sampled product and you can find these offers in the inserts put out at your local and chain pet stores, online and often just by writing to tell a company how much you enjoy their product. Sometimes vets will give away samples, too. The sizes aren’t big, but you can’t beat free and it’s a great way to find out if your pet likes a brand before buying the full-sized product.
7. Make homemade pet toys.
Let’s face it. We’ve all purchased a $20 chew toy that squeaks, dispenses treats and does just about everything but the dishes, only to find that the dog cares more about a wrapper on the floor. Empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls, water bottles and a myriad of other objects that can be found around the house are often much more appealing to our furry friends than anything that can be found in the pet store aisle. Most of the toys and gadgets we buy are more for humans than the animals themselves, so cutting back to the basics can be a great way to save. Just be sure that whatever you let your pet play with is safe and chemical free!
There you have it. Some quick and (relatively) easy ways to cut pet care costs without cutting quality. Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments below!