Saving Money On Pets

by Gregory Thomas


© 1998-99

Over fifty five percent of U.S. residents have an animal that's considered a 'pet'. Even though dogs and cats are two of the most popular, many enjoy the companionship of fish, hamsters, iguanas, snakes, pigs, chickens and even goats. I personally have a beautiful 90lb Alaskan Malamute and a 60 gallon salt water tank (although population within is a bit scarce).

Regardless of what animal you consider your pet, you will need to spend a certain amount of money to care for that animal. Food, shelter, toys and health necessities all cost money. Remember, you have another mouth to feed, even if it only weighs five pounds.

For most, food will be the largest expense over the life time of your pet. For example, a typical average sized dog consuming one can of food along with four cups of dry food a day, averages out to about $25-$40 a month. Multiply that by 8-15 years and you get an idea of how much you'll spend on food for your dog.

The First Step

The first step to saving money on pet supplies/food, is to find a source that offers you above average discounts. Take the time to explore your options. It will pay off big in the long run.

Check the prices at a few of your local pet stores and supermarkets. Brands of food can vary by as much as $20 just between brands. Surprise yourself by taking a look at the ingredients of high priced brands and generic store packaged products. Little or no difference will be found.

We compared the ingredients of Ralph brand dog food to Eukenuba and Iams. They had almost the SAME exact ingredients. The Ralphs 20lb bag cost only $6.50, compared to the $11 and $14 higher priced options.

Don't overlook the opportunities on the Internet. Use your computer to help you save money off pet supplies. Many times you will find 20%-50% savings ranged when compared to your local pet supplier.

Using the Internet

You can get access to information regarding any pet directly on the Internet. Use the Internet to educate yourself about the pet(s) you have. Join newsgroups and forums, participate in chat rooms, subscribe to pet related ezines/newsletters, and explore pet devoted web sites.

Try using popular search engines like Yahoo or Excite. Search for information specific to your pet like "German Shepard" or "Iguana Forums" or even "How To Raise A Pig".

As mentioned earlier, online pet stores can provide you with discounts ranging from 10%-50% off pet supplies. Many sites also offer discounts and incentives to new customers. These deals and offers change rather frequently as everything else on the Internet, so keep your eyes and Internet connection active!

On that note, be SURE to find out the shipping costs and taxes on your merchandise, if applicable. Even though you might find a 50lb bag of dog food $15 cheaper than usual, paying a $14 shipping charge really doesn't benefit your pocketbook much.

Here are some sites to get you started in your online quest for lower prices:

Health

Just as we should all visit a physician/doctor for regular health checkups, you should do the same for your pet, especially for shots! Every animal needs annual check ups with a vet, especially young (under a year) since their immune system isn't fully developed yet.

Since most of our pets remain outdoors most if not all the time. Vaccines and booster shots are imperative to keep your pets immune systems in tip top shape.

Local Services

Contact your local Animal Control/Humane Society and inquire about an city or county sponsored pet vaccination days. You will generally find that your city, or cities near you, offer many discounted services for pet owners.

For example, the City of Monterey Park (Ca) Animal Control/Humane Society has "sponsor days" where you can get six in one puppy vaccinations and dewormer for $14. Rabies shots are only $5 for adult dogs.

Your next best bet is to check with Petco/Vetco pet supply stores, or the equivalent if you are unable to find one in your area. Most recently, Petco stores were offering Rabies shots for ONLY $1 with a minimum purchase.

A local veterinarian can cost twice as much but may be needed for emergency situations. For puppy shots 6 in1 was $25 dollars and the dewormer was $16. Upon contacting a few local vets, the average cost for a general office visit was $18 dollars plus whatever the animal needs.

When taking your pet to a 'vet', be sure to inquire about all of your options before allowing any procedures to be done.

Conclusion

Regardless of what approach you take in your goal to save money off your pet necessities, remember never to jeopardize the health or safety of your animal just to save a buck. Take the time to explore opportunities on the Internet. There's a wealth of information out there, all you have to do is find what you're looking for.


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