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How to Save Money on Pet Care and Supplies

Kelly Roper
Woman with multiple pets

Having pets is a joy, but paying for all their needs can be a real blow to your wallet. Luckily, there are a number of ways to save money on pet care and supplies. All you need are some good tips.

7 Ways to Save Money on Pet Care

1. Vaccinate Your Pet Yourself

Vaccinations are a major investment in your dog's health, and they can be costly since they're given in a series. With the exception of the rabies vaccine, you can actually give your dog his vaccinations yourself for a fraction of what you'd pay at a veterinary clinic. The best part is that it's easier than you may think.

Doctors Foster and Smith offer a video that shows how to prepare the shot and give it to your pet. They also sell vaccines in single and multiple doses, perfect for individual dog owners and breeders alike.

2. Learn to Brush Your Pet's Teeth

Woman brushing dogs teeth

Gum disease can lead to heart disease, so keeping your pet's teeth as clean as possible is an important part of keeping him healthy. Hard biscuits and crunchy kibble can remove some tarter from teeth, but regular brushing is the surest way to remove tarter from the gum line.

Purchase an inexpensive dog or cat dental kit, brush your pet's teeth several times a week, and head off unnecessary veterinary bills down the line.

3. Groom Your Own Pet

The cost of having your pet professionally groomed can be expensive, especially if your pet needs to be trimmed every eight weeks or so. Brush and bathe your pet yourself, and learn how to trim his fur and nails instead of paying a vet or a groomer to do it for you.

If you own a bird, learn how to trim his wings to prevent flight-related accidents. Your initial investment in a trimmer and/or a nail clipper will pay for itself within a few months of your purchase.

4. Feed Your Pet the Best Diet

Pet food is one area where you should splurge and purchase the best diet available. Feeding your pet a premium brand food can help him stay healthier and avoid costly veterinary care later on for a host of conditions related to poor diet. Just be aware that a high price doesn't always guarantee the best product, even in some very well-known brands.

  • For dogs and cats, choose a brand that uses a named type of meat or meat meal, and avoid brands that use corn and animal by-products, as well as chemical preservatives like BHT, BHA, and ethoxyquin. If the ingredients list contains words and terms that aren't easy to understand, that's a good sign you should look for a higher-quality brand.
  • For pet birds and a variety of small pets, choose a balanced, pelleted diet that provides rounded nutrition with every bite. This will prevent your pet from just choosing his favorite food items out of a mixed blend and winding up with a case of malnutrition.

5. Schedule Yearly Veterinary Exams

Yearly exams may sound like an unnecessary expense, especially when your pet may appear perfectly fine, but they're really an investment that can pay off in the long run. Diseases are typically easier to treat when they first take hold, and this may save you higher costs for more extensive treatments of a disease that has progressed to a serious stage.

Just like choosing the best dog food you can afford, routine veterinary care is another area where you should spend money in order to hopefully save money later on.

6. Consider Adopting a Shelter Pet

Family at an animal shelter

Adopting a pet from an animal shelter is a great way to help with the pet overpopulation problem, and doing so can be a bargain in several ways.

  • The cost of a shelter pet is often less than purchasing the same pet directly from a breeder or pet shop.
  • Many shelter pets, such as cats and dogs, receive initial veterinary care before they are put up for adoption. This often includes vaccinations, as well as spaying or neutering.

You'll likely pay an adoption fee, but it's typically far less than the combined costs of purchasing the pet and then paying a vet full price to take care of spaying or neutering.

7. Take Advantage of Low Cost Spay and Neuter Programs

Low cost spay and neuter programs are available across the country, and the typical cost for their services is based on an individual pet owner's income. This can mean considerable savings on a procedure that will also save you the cost of an unwanted litter in the future.

7 Tips for Saving Money on Pet Supplies

1. Shop Discount Pet Supply Sites That Offer Free Shipping

Sometimes the discount you get on supplies is offset by the cost of shipping, but that's not always the case. Pet supply websites like Wag, Pet Solutions and Doctors Foster and Smith offer free shipping on orders of $49 or more, although heavy items like cages may incur a small freight charge.

If you're looking for a source for premium pet foods and other products that you can't find locally, these websites can prove a bargain in the long run.

2. Purchase Pet Food in Bulk

When you buy in bulk, the price per pound is typically a little lower when you purchase higher quantities. This goes for cat and dog food, as well as bird food and food for rodents, reptiles, and other small pets.

If you have a number of the same type of pet, buying in bulk probably makes sense. If you have just one pet, it might wiser to purchase food in smaller amounts so it doesn't expire before you use it all.

3. Use Store Membership Cards to Get Discounts

Chain stores like Petsmart, Pets Supplies Plus, and others offer free membership cards that will give you access to special pricing on numerous items each week. Simply ask to sign up when you check out, and then present your card every time you shop.

4. Consider Buying Certain Medications Online

If your vet prescribes an antibiotic for your pet, by all means, purchase it right there at the clinic and start your pet on it right away. However, other products and medications, such as heartworm preventative and flea repellents, can often be purchased for a better price at an online pharmacy accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. You'll need to provide a copy of the prescription.

5. Find Used Supply Bargains on Facebook

There are numerous Facebook pages/groups dedicated to keeping specific types of pets. You can often find posts where group members offer to sell used items at a reduced price, such as cages, carriers and more. Of course, you need to decide for yourself if an item's condition and price make it a good purchase, but you're bound to find some great deals.

6. Repurpose Items You Already Have

Woman pushing dog in baby stroller

You can avoid the expense of new supplies by reusing a variety of household items for you pets. For example:

  • You can recover a bassinet or crib mattress, as well as an old couch cushion, and turn the item into a comfy pet bed.
  • Old casserole dishes, such as those you find at flea markets and garage sales, can make good substitutions for expensive food and water crocks.
  • Kids' small, used T-shirts and sweaters just might be a perfect fit for your pet, and they're a great alternative to more expensive doggie clothing.
  • A pair of used baby booties can protect your dog's feet on a trip outside in winter, and they're far less expensive than dog booties.
  • A used baby stroller can be converted into a pet stroller.

7. Make Some of Your Own Supplies

If certain supplies are just too expensive or you simply don't want to spend money on them, you might be able to make them on your own. For example:

  • Use old wooden pallets to build a coop for pet chickens.
  • Build a parrot play stand out of PVC piping.
  • Make an inexpensive cat toy by pouring catnip into an old, child-sized sock and tying the end in a knot.

Start Saving Now

After reading all of these ideas about ways to save money on your pet's needs, you may already have thought of some new ideas of your own. Start putting them into practice now, and see just how much you can stretch your pet care budget by using a little ingenuity.

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How to Save Money on Pet Care and Supplies