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7 Ways to Save Money on Pet Care

Updated on February 7, 2011

Sadly, our furry best friends are often left in the dust when household finances get tight. Many of us cherish our pets, but they can take a toll on our wallets. When being frugal, don’t let the high prices at pet stores deter you from giving your pet the best treatment. There are many creative solutions that can lower your pet care expenses.

There's no doubt that caring for a dog or cat can be a pricey endeavor. Dog food alone costs an average of $241 a year in America and for cats, the number is only slightly less. Supplies and grooming can cost hundreds of dollars a year more, adding heft to your monthly household expenses. Rather than downgrade your pet's care for the sake of frugality, you just need some creativity and a little cleverness. Here are some tips:

1. Control fleas with natural prevention methods. Chemical flea medications can be extremely costly at $20 or more per monthly application. Instead, control fleas with natural prevention methods such as garlic. Many owners have found success battling off fleas by introducing small amounts of garlic into their dog or cat’s diet. Or, try spraying your dog or cat's coat with diluted lemon juice or lavender oil to turn away the fleas.

2. Make your own natural pet food blend. Mix small amounts of whole foods into mid-priced dry food to keep the cost low. Its best not to buy the cheapest brands of dog food, plus they often lack essential nutrients. Instead buy a mid-range brand of dry food and mix in healthy whole food additions to boost its vitamins, such as roasted chicken, egg, rice, or vegetables. Better yet, feed your dog kitchen scraps and leftovers. This was what dogs ate for centuries before Kibbles ‘n’ Bits ever hit the market. Americans throw away billions of dollars worth of food waste every year, while many of their pets are stuck sniffing unsavory-looking mush from their doggie-bowl. Remember that much of your food waste, including meat, rice, oats, potatoes and many veggies, can be very nutritious for your dog.

3. Make your own kitty litter for next-to-nothing. Store-bought litter for a single cat can cost an owner over $100 a year! Try making your own using shredded newspaper. To take it a step further, soak the shredded paper in warm water with dish soap. Rinse and repeat a couple times. Drain, sprinkle generously with baking soda, mix with hands, squeeze out the moisture, and break up until crumbly. Finally, lay out on a screen to dry for a few days.

4. Be your own dog groomer. Grooming your dog is as simple as a bottle of mild dish soap and a brush, as well as some diligence! You can also make your own dog shampoo.

5. Be wary of vet charges. Its hard not to give in when your veterinarian insists you pay for additional services, but keep in mind money is often their motive, so be cautious with the services you agree to. Try to avoid unnecessary trips to the vet unless the situation is urgent. Remember that animals can heal rather quickly on their own, just like people. If your cat is limping a bit or your dog is sneezing, you might be surprised how quickly they can recover if given a day or so.

6. Make your own toys and treats. We all like to spoil our pets with the good things in life, but pet stores charge an awful lot for cheap, simple toys and treats. For my own cat, a bit of string or a folded piece of cardboard can offer endless hours of entertainment. It is also super easy to make your own dog biscuits using ingredients like oats, peanut butter, eggs, and milk. Check out some of the homemade dog biscuit recipes that are available all over the web.

7. Adopt a pet from an animal shelter or pound. You can take home a wonderful pet that costs next to nothing when you buy from a shelter. If you pick a mature animal who has had their shots and been spayed or neutered, then you will only pay a minimal adoption fee. Thousands of cats and dogs are killed in shelters every day, and many are very healthy. By choosing a slightly older or mature pet from the shelter, you can have better assurance that you are rescuing a healthy pet without unforeseen genetic problems.

The good things in life are simple, and our pets seem to know this best of all!



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    • DrMark1961 profile image

      Dr Mark 5 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Nice tips

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, these are GREAT tips! I had no idea that one could make one's own pet litter, too - that's so cool! Thanks so much for writing the Hub- I bet a lot of people will find it to be very helpful.