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How To Save Cash With A Pet Budget

Updated on September 1, 2012

How to Save Money by Creating a Pet Budget

I wrote an article a few days ago on this subject although I have to admit, my comedic side got the better of me.

I decided to add in a lot of imaginary conversations I was having with one of my own pets, my young malamute, Griffin.

I thought in all fairness I probably should come back and write a more serious version of my tips on how to save money by creating a pet budget.

Either one of these hubs though will have the same ideas.....though I'm adding a few more to this one I neglected in my last medical insurance and designer clothing.

They did not apply to my malamutes but they do apply in general to the subject of creating a pet budget.

There are many ways that we can all save money on our pets when thinking about cutting costs. 

Just make sure that the costs you cut are the "important" ones and ones that won't affect your pet's longevity or his or her care. 

There are many things though that we can cut out that won't be painful at all and can truly make your pet's life richer.

Let's take a look at some of them!

public domain photo
public domain photo

So Why Do We Spend So Much On Our Pets?

I honestly find it puzzling in an economy that is as flat as a pancake that we still manage to scrape together mega bucks to spend on our pets!

Every time I'm in the pet store, I'm amazed at the fashion statements I see for one thing and for another, the incredible amounts of dollars that people are willing to shell out when it comes to their pets.

Since I'm a dog owner, most of my helpful hints at saving money and creating a pet budget for yourself are aimed at dogs. But truly they could apply to any pet across the board.

So why do we spend so much on our pets? I think it has to do with equating money with love. If the truth really came out about it, I think we're so caught up in making our pets love us more, we figure more "stuff" equals more love. Which of course it doesn't!

Or some of us have the idea that keeping up with the Joneses when it comes to our pets is the way we have to operate. Because Mike and Terri down the street have the best of everything when it comes to their dogs, we have to respond in kind...but no we don't!

If you're looking for ways to trim away some of the fat in your budget, take a look at your family's pet expenses and see if there aren't some ways that you can cut out certain things while concentrating on others.

Again, it might surprise you that there are many ways to actually give your pet more by giving them less!

How to Save Money on Vet Care

Creating a Pet Budget Your Pet Can Live With

  • Diet is essential. I'm going to lead off with diet just because I think it's vital that any pet have the most nutritious diet you can afford. That doesn't mean though that it has to be the most expensive! An appropriate diet means that the formulation that you feed your pet is perfect for his or her digestion, making him or her not too fat and not too skinny. Also making sure that the food you feed isn't causing gastric distress such as diarrhea or bloating. Any reputable vet can tell you the ratio of protein to fat that your specific pet needs. Then you can check different foods and make the best choice by comparing ingredients and then comparing prices. All foods are not created the same but there are some really, really good pet foods out there for half what you might be paying...for the same ingredients!
  • Checkups and vet bills. Some people seem to think that by avoiding vaccinations and vet bills, they're saving money. Just like diet, in the long run, really you aren't. If you have a car, the best way to maintain it is by doing the maintenance. Same way with pets. They need care from time to time and if you can't afford that, you truly should not have the pet. However, that said, you don't have to spend every dime you make on your pet to show it that you love it! Being careful to keep your pet on the proper diet, giving it plenty of good old fashioned love and exercise will go further than anything else to ensure your pet a long and healthy life.
  • Pet insurance. I have a different philosophy on pet medical insurance and I know a lot of people would disagree with me. I've never had a pet yet where having this would have benefited me in the slightest! To be honest, the premiums would have cost more than my out-of-pocket expenses. I have been blessed many times over with pretty healthy pets but even the pets I've had that had health problems had ailments that would never have been covered so I would have wasted my money on pet insurance. If you're thinking of getting it, look at it long and hard. Sometimes a payment plan can be the best's a revolving account that you can open if your pet ends up having to have something major done or bills pile up unexpectedly. You can pay it off in a reasonable amount of time but still get what needs to be done accomplished. I prefer spending my money on discount plans at my vet's such as puppy plans where I get multiple services under one umbrella payment, including neutering, vaccinations, etc. Many vets have several plans available so ask about those before investing in pet insurance.
  • Treats. This is a tough one since my pup Griffin is coming around the corner on 2 years old. We had him in puppy training for months and felt obligated to have treats at all times....we still do as he is still in training. However, one thing I've discovered over these past 18 or so months is that treats are not his friend, nor are they ours! He has an extremely sensitive digestive tract perhaps because he had Giardia but treats do not agree with him much. We couldn't figure out what was wrong and why he kept having bouts of diarrhea, flatulence and abdominal pains from time to time. It turns out that we were defeating our own purposes by buying him an extremely nutritious diet that is perfect for him, then turning around and giving him junk food basically in the form of treats. Pet treats are usually nothing but lots of things they shouldn't be eating....preservatives, fillers, fat, etc. But what to do instead? Learn what I found most helpful...just use his regular food for treats. I take a small portion of his food (kibble) every day and set it aside for training purposes, for stuffing in pockets, putting in a little bag that I carry in the car. So let the training begin! I have a little morsel that's not going to fill him up but something that is enticing him just as effectively as any treat ever did. And the added bonus is that I haven't blown a hole in his diet!
  • "Digestible" chew toys. We spend millions every year as a nation on chew toys for our dogs. When you think about it, it's kinda weird if you ask me! I learned a very expensive lesson years ago with one of my dogs over rawhide and I've never bought it since. A piece of the rawhide lodged in her stomach and would not digest so had to be removed surgically. It wasn't pretty and it certainly was not cheap! I also had 2 of my dogs get into a terrible fight over pig's ears. While these I suppose could be argued to be more "natural" and a way to make use of these animal parts....I just prefer to not have this kind of stuff going into my dogs' bodies because I think over time, it probably isn't good for them. The alternative? Ask your vet if it's safe to give your dog a real bone and by a real bone I mean a meat bone that won't splinter or that isn't so small they can easily choke on it. Then let them chew on that in a supervised environment and you've accomplished the same thing....or invest in Kong toys or something that they can chew on to their heart's contents.
  • Toys in general. The same thing goes with toys. I see the validity of buying toys when dogs are young as in Griff's case, they saved my household items....mostly though there were still a few mishaps here and there. Providing properly made, safe toys is the best policy in my opinion and I go a little overboard trying to find toys actually made in the USA. However, less is more here, too. You don't have to have an entire closet filled with pet toys. They truly are only pets and they don't know the difference between 5 and 50. It's all about the love and even the playtime that goes along with the toys....not the cost of the toy, what it does, or how many there are. You can even make toys yourself! You can also repurpose rather than replace by sewing up an old toy, adding a new rope, or just cleaning it up a bit. Use it until it's to the point of no return to get your money's worth out of it!
  • Beds and houses. Pets are pretty flexible. It's us humans that are not. Again, I think we go totally overboard buying our pets car seats, carriers, playpens, beds, and houses. It's like we're buying for babies for crying out loud! Do they really, really need all that stuff? A great alternative is to make your own dog houses or cat poles, sew up some dog blankets and use some old pillows or even make your own posh beds and carriers if you must. But don't spend hundreds of dollars on pet carrying purses and igloos. We have 2 perfectly great dog igloos that both of my malamutes will not even go into. The dogs we had before used them all the time but my dogs at the present time don't even know they're there apparently! Our dogs use our bed as their bed for a time every single day and then have blankets that I made by hand to cover a dog bed for each I bought years back. I prefer natural surfaces for my dogs to lie on anyway and they prefer it as well such as wood, tile and grass. If you don't buy these things, they'll never miss them!
  • Pet clothing. I saved this one for last because the picture above says it all. I know a lot of people who have trouble paying their bills but their dogs have the cutest clothes! Does this make any sense? I'm very fortunate because malamutes are rather "sophisticated" dogs and they are working dogs. Dressing them up would really be insulting to them I think not to mention the fact that they would be suffocating from the heat in minutes. I did have a whippet dog many years ago who was always cold and I did break down and buy him a sweater. That kind of pet clothing I can understand. When the animal actually needs it is one thing but simply dressing him or her up for fashion You can do it of course and save money buying outfits at certain places, but I'm of the mind that buying them something to exercise them with is far better and more practical in the long run.

How to Save Money by Creating a Pet Budget

In short, I think that loving your pet and spending time with him or her is the key ingredient most pets are longing for....what they truly want the most.

Spending a lot of money on your pet isn't a substitute for your time, your affection, or your care. 

Saving money is a wholesome hobby and one that I truly enjoy but not at the expense of my pups.  I try to balance loving them with taking care of them in an appropriate manner by making sure all their needs are met each and every day, including exercise. 

Providing them with a proper diet and appropriate medical care is part of the picture but spending time with them is just as important for them to feel that they are wanted. 

Also finding something for them to do that's appropriate is key in our dogs' case to having a well-rounded we urban mush them.  The money that we have saved on all the things above has been spent in part in providing them with pulling opportunities to do what they love to do...which is run.  I do think in the long run, they much prefer the urban mushing to having a cute outfit or a bag of rawhide bones!

If you're looking to save money, try creating a pet budgeting plan.  I think with a little creativity you can come up with some ideas that will save you money and perhaps even make life better for your pet. 

Many people have turned to making their own pet food today and that can be a huge money saver. 

Whatever ways you find to save money, just make sure your pet is being cared for in the best way that he or she can be and you'll come out on top. 

If you have more ideas on creating a pet budget, please share them below to enrich the hub!


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