8 Ways to Keep Pet Care Expenses Under Control

Reduce pet care costsMost of us don’t realize all the costs associated with maintaining our pets, and we tend to only think of costs for food and the occasional visit to the vet. But in reality taking care of our pets costs Americans more than $41 billion dollars a year. That’s a lot of money spent on our little critters.

Don’t get me wrong I love pets, and grew up with all sorts of animals and birds, but before you go out and buy one (or adopt one), you should consider the total expenses. If you do have a pet, here are some simple ways to reduce your pet care expenses.

1. Find Low-Cost Pet Health Care
The key to caring for your pets is to be frugal, but not cheap. Just like with us humans, preventative care is an important part to keeping healthcare costs low. Schedule regular check-ups with an affordable vet you trust or find a low-cost clinic from your local animal shelter. Even some pet stores, like PetSmart, offer inexpensive services and have a hospital available for your pet’s medical needs.

2. Negotiate With Your Vet for Discounted Pet Care
Just like with all your other bills, negotiating with your vet is a good way to get discounts on check-ups for your pet. It never hurts to ask, especially if you develop a good relationship with your vet and staff. Try offering to pay cash up front for a small discount, or pay half now and half later. Remember to be thankful and treat everyone there with respect, they need to feed their families too.

3. Shop Around for Generic Pet Medications
The name brand, over-the-counter medications from the vet’s office, tend to be overpriced compared to its generic counterparts. Doing a quick search online for generic pet medications, will yield sites like 1-800-PetMeds and PetCareRx, that offer discounted prescriptions and medicine while including free shipping. The weekly circular or newspaper will also have coupons for pet food and medications.

4. Reduce the Quantity of Your Pet’s Food
If you take a look at the feeding directions on the food packages, you might be surprised to find we are over-feeding our pets – by a lot. By following the recommended amount on the packages, you can make sure your pet’s food lasts the appropriate amount of time. This will keep your pet healthier while saving you money on excess pet food.

Another quick way to reduce the amount of money spent on food, is to shop online. As previously mentioned, the internet is a great place to find good deals for your pets. Check out a site like PetFoodDirect, which offers an extra 15% – 30% off regular prices on pet food and supplies.

5. Find Local Pet Veterinary Schools
If you aren’t able to find a good veterinarian at a decent price point, consider a local pet vet school for all your medical needs. Many colleges and universities in your area will offer these services to the public at discounted prices. While students get a chance to improve their skills, you get access to some of the latest technology, fresh ideas and get to work with licensed vets, so it’s like getting two for the price of one. It’s a win-win!

6. Avoid Costly Pet Grooming Services
Many costly grooming and upkeep services can be done  yourself. Instead of hiring a dog walker or paying someone to bathe and brush your pet, learn to do it yourself. You can clean your pet’s teeth, wash and clip them, along with other basics that can all be done at home. You’ll not only save money by not hiring someone, but you get to spend extra time bonding with your pet.

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7. Hit Up the Dollar Store
One of the biggest money drains when it comes to pets, is all the supplies and toys we buy for them. From pet clothes to comfy beds, we like to pamper our pets and tend to go overboard with too many accessories. If your pet needs a few things, try hitting up the dollar store for inexpensive toys and treats. Pets tend to lose interest or destroy their toys pretty quickly, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to overspend for them. Besides, your pet will want to play with YOU more than any toy or accessory.

8. Develop a Consistent Routine
Pets thrive much more when they have a consistent routine. They require our time, attention and proper exercise to stay happy and healthy. If you and your pet stay active and happy, you may be able to avoid many medical expenses for both of you in the future. This cuts down on your medical costs and other emergency expenses that might arise.

I love pets and think they make great additions to any family, but now you can understand why you should be a little hesitant before getting too many of them. Be sure to review your budget, and have a little cushion of extra funds before committing to care for a pet. They are like another member of the family, and come with additional expenses.

Image credit: Andrew Morrell Photography

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