If the cost of keeping your pets fed, healthy, groomed and beautiful has gotten so high, you’re the one coughing up hairballs, rest assured. There are many small ways to reduce the cost of pet care that will add up to big savings.
According to a survey, owning a dog costs an average of $1,480 in basic expenses per year. For cats, the average annual expense is about $902. Fish are the cheapest pets, costing around $750 a year to care for aquatic friends.
So how can you afford to care for your sick and healthy furry, feathered and scaly friends? Make preventative maintenance your top priority as a pet owner, then track every expense carefully.
Consider these tips to help you reduce your pet’s expenses without putting your pet’s health or well-being at risk.
Look for free initial exams. Local veterinarians often advertise a free initial exam as part of marketing to attract new customers. Take advantage of the offer. This type of office visit usually costs between $40 and $60.
MOBILE AND LOW COST CUSTOMERS
Look for mobile or low-cost clinics for vaccines, microchips, heartworms, and preventative chips. Although you may want to stay with the same vet for annual exams, you can save a lot on preventative services. Search for “low cost pet clinic near me” to find out if such a clinic is available for you and your pets.
A fence or other reasonable restraint is the best way to avoid large veterinary bills, advised the late David T. Roen, DVM, board-certified veterinarian and founder of the Clarkston Veterinary Clinic in Clarkston, Washington. “I see more dogs in my office due to injuries sustained while unrestrained than for any other reason. Dogs should always be leashed, fenced in, or supervised,” he told me. .
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FOOD
Dr. Roen has always advised his pet owners to skip all high-end foods sold by veterinarians. Use brand name pet foods labeled “complete and balanced.” Or look for the AAFCO (the Association of American Feed Control Officials) seal of approval.
When your pet’s food goes on sale, make enough for the next time it goes on sale. Stick with the same brand. A sudden change can cause health problems for some animals. And less is better, because slightly underweight animals have fewer health problems.
Sterilization and castration
Aside from reproductive issues, the Animal Health Foundation reports that spayed and neutered dogs have fewer health and behavioral issues, which translates to lower veterinary bills and other animal health-related costs. of company.
GET SECOND OPINION
Even if it’s an emergency, get a second opinion if the estimate is over a few hundred dollars. If the estimate is $800 and you can only afford $400, speak up, says Dr. Roen. There may be less aggressive and less expensive alternative treatments.
SHOP FOR MEDICINES
Don’t buy drugs from the vet, as most vets who sell drugs and supplements directly usually charge a hefty markup. Ask your veterinarian for prescription drug samples to start with. Then call retailers such as Walmart or Costco (many drugs are the same for humans and animals) to compare prices.
To save even more, enroll your cat or dog in prescription savings programs like those offered by Walgreens, Kroger, Rite Aid and Walmart.
FIND THE GREAT DEALS
Don’t rush to the pet store when you need a crate, cat carrier, or other pet equipment. Instead, look at Craigslist.org and Facebook Marketplace. You won’t believe all the great deals on lightly used pet equipment, even brand new ones. Be sure to sanitize crates, carriers, and the like, even if they look clean. A 50-50 ratio of vinegar OR bleach (never mix the two) to water should do the trick.
The other day I saw a coupon in a flyer for a free nail clipping at a local vet, a savings of $15. Keep your eyes peeled for coupons in the mail and at grocery and pet stores.
CHECK LAND SALES
You can never safely buy new toys for your pets again when you think of garage sales instead. Instead of $12 for a new monkey or hedgehog, one from a yard sale will work just as well – for a much better price of 25 cents to $1, which is typical. Most plush toys come out great after a run through the washer and dryer. Tip: Add Lysol to the wash cycle to sanitize and disinfect.
CREATE AN ACCOUNT
Seriously, you need to create a pet care-only savings account that you regularly deposit money into. Even $10 a week will turn into $520 in a year. Only assign this account to pet emergencies, then congratulate yourself on being a responsible pet owner. Weft!
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, “Ask Mary”. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living”.