There are many benefits to owning a pet dog or cat. If you have a huge house with many kids, a dog could be part of your family. If you’re single, a dog or a cat makes for the ultimate companion. Even the elderly could do with the companionship brought about by these loyal canines or felines.
But if you don’t have the budget for it, taking care of a dog or cat will definitely take its toll on your finances. Cutting costs is a must, not a hobby, so listen up!
Depending on who you ask, here are the possible yearly expenses that you would have to incur when caring for pets:
- According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the basic expenses related to caring for a dog or cat can run anywhere from $580 to $875.
- Pet owners say that the yearly expense of taking care of one dog in a household is roughly $1,500.
- Veterinarians say that the figure is actually closer to $2,000 per year, depending on the size of the dog. This can add up to about $20,000 to $40,000 for the entire lifetime of a dog and again, it depends on the breed and size.
These are just the basic costs of caring for a pet dog or cat. The prices do vary depending on the region you’re in, as well as the cost of veterinary services. The habit of the pet owner is yet another way to determine the costs of taking care of a pet. There are pet owners who lavish their dogs with pricey toys and treats; expensive accessories; and high-priced dog or cat food.
On the other hand, a frugal dog or cat owner may not spend as much – but the expenses are still there in order to give the best care for the animal. If you think about it, cutting costs on vet bills is just like cutting costs on anything else and it doesn’t mean your pet will not be taken care of.
Naturally, every pet owner would want to provide the best care for a beloved animal. But how can this be done without breaking the bank? In the following sections, we will take a look at the ways for you to cut costs on veterinary bills and pet supplies.
How to Reduce Your Veterinary Bills
You might consider yourself an expert at doing the everyday chores of caring for your dog or cat. However, if your pet gets sick, you would still have to seek out the services of a veterinarian to determine what’s wrong. Just because you do require the services of a vet does not mean that you need to pay any more than you have to.
Check out some tips on how you can reduce your veterinary bills as a pet owner:
Look for a good vet in your area
If you just moved into a new neighborhood and you brought your dog along, you would eventually need the services of a veterinarian. Even before your dog or cat gets sick, you can ask around for references, explaining that you are cutting costs and would like the best option out there.
Be friendly towards a neighbor who you see walking her dog every morning, and ask her for vet recommendations. Once you gather together some names, make an initial call so that you can decide if the vet is a good one to have in case your pet does get sick.
Ask for a written estimate before hiring the services of a veterinarian
Again, it pays to do this even before your pet gets sick. Request a written estimate so that you would know if your basic bill will start from $300, or add up to as much as $3,000. Doing so would eliminate any element of surprise once you get the bill from your vet.
Know exactly how long each vaccination lasts
Unfortunately, there are some veterinarians who give out distemper and parvo vaccinations to dogs – and put on the vaccination card a once-a-year reminder. The vaccinations actually provide at least three years’ worth of protection once your dog has gone through the puppy stage. Also, according to Veterinary Outreach, there is no longer one policy on how animals should be vaccinated although there are some required by law.
It is up to the veterinarian to assess each individual pet’s risk of exposure, so a personalized vaccination program should be designed. If your pet is not at risk for certain diseases, anyway, there is no need for you to break the bank, or for your vet to administer irrelevant vaccines.
Invest in preventative healthcare
Just like humans who will benefit more from living a healthier lifestyle, dog and cat owners should invest in preventative health care, too.
Let’s take a look at one of the more common infections that dogs get exposed to: heartworm infection. If your dog will be treated for this, the vet bills can go through the roof. But if you will invest in heartworm vaccination, you will save a lot of money, not to mention the fact that you will save your dog a lot of pain in the process.
An annual veterinary exam that includes flea and tick control; a check-up of the lungs, heart and internal organs; as well as a thorough inspection of the gums and teeth will help a lot. As you can see, sometimes cutting costs can actually be your best option.
Consider getting pet health insurance
What about getting pet health insurance? In general, pet health insurance providers will reimburse 80% of your out-of-pocket expenses. Before signing up for a plan, however, read the fine print so you would know which medical conditions are excluded. Some of the most common are inherited animal disorders or pre-existing diseases.
Cutting Costs on Pet Supplies
Next, how can you save money on the cost of pet supplies? Take a look at the following list:
Purchase your pet supplies in bulk, or online
When you have a pet dog or cat, food will be your number one expense. The number one rule that you need to remember – not just to save on pet food expenses but also to benefit the animal’s health – is to not overfeed them.
Ask your vet what the ideal amount of pet food is, which depends on the breed, weight, and age of your dog or cat. Most pets are actually overweight, simply because the owners do not know when to stop feeding the animals. You don’t need to starve your dog or cat, but there’s no need to overfeed them, either.
When it comes to buying supplies, go online or buy in bulk. Look for pet food brands which have prices from the middle to the high-end scale. These have fewer fillers than cheaper pet food brands so there will be no unnecessary ingredients that your pet may not be able to digest.
Once you find the right brand of cat or dog food, buy it in bulk at brick-and-mortar stores. Or, visit sites like Wag.com, Petco, and PetSmart. These online stores regularly have items on sale and even offer free shipping for dog or cat food, pet supplies, and medication.
Groom your pets at home
One visit to a professional pet groomer will cost you a significant amount of dollars. If you’ll pay for the service on a regular basis, the costs will eventually add up. With enough practice, you can groom your pets at home.
Trim their nails and brush their coat to reduce the hairballs around your home. There are other steps involved in a complete pet grooming which you can practice with a bit of patience. It will also serve as some quality bonding time between you and your pet.
Buy only a few toys for your cat or dog, and rotate them
Even if you have all the money in the world to spend lavishly on toys for pets, you actually only need ten to about a dozen toys. Observe which ones your cat or dog likes. Buy a couple of each variant and for dogs, look for ones which are virtually indestructible.
Put the toys in rotation – the first five or six, you can bring out for a couple of weeks. When you bring the rest out from storage, your pet will think that the toys are new so they would lots of fun playing with them again.
Use coupons, subscriptions, rebates and gift cards
Whether you’re buying pet food, supplies, medication or toys, there are plenty of ways for you to save money on purchases. Take advantage of coupons which are available from magazines and websites.
When you subscribe to online magazines or newsletters, you are also usually given coupons. Rebates and gift cards are the other things that you can use to enjoy great discounts when purchasing pet supplies.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can apply in order to cut back on the costs of visits to the vet and when buying pet supplies. You don’t necessarily have to deprive your pet of good vet services, toys, accessories, and food – but there’s no need for you to spend an arm and a leg for it, either. By following these tips and cutting costs, you can give your pets the best care without breaking the bank.