Making pet care costs less burdensome on the budget
Keeping Your Pet Out of the Economic Doghouse
by Sarah Pepel
The Lifetime Cost of Adopting a Dog
Money Saving for Dog Owners
Saving Doggie Dollars
Millions of pets in the United States are euthanized because there are no homes for them. According to The Spayed Club website, more than 35,000 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens in the seven shelters around Greater Philadelphia are put to death each year.
In a difficult economy, many pets are abandoned to reduce homeowners' costs, but just like anything else in the house, with a little planning and research, pet care can be less burdensome on the budget.
When you first decide to add a pet to your home, there are several options to consider. AdoptaPet.com keeps a list of local humane societies, SPCAs and pet rescue organizations. They also give valuable advice on things to think about when you are adopting.
With rescue missions available in almost every breed, checking with the one of your choice is definitely worth pursuing before looking at new puppies. The advantage of an older dog is perhaps maturity out of the young puppy chewing phase, completed vaccinations and spayed/neutering, and hopefully prior training on pet deposits. A new home usually requires some new training for dogs or cats, but with proper instruction, attention and affection, most pets should blend into the family quickly.
On the other hand, when adding a puppy or kitten to your clan, there are some start-up costs that need to be considered: initial vet bills, ongoing healthcare, food, and physical structures from crates to fences, if desired. Most pet stores offer books and instruction for new pet owners. Every pet owner should be aware of what symptoms indicate a bigger problem in their pet and what foods are allowed, whether intentionally or by accident. My family has a beagle and as she grew taller, she managed to get a lot of "accident" foods off the counter and I have learned to move things away from the edge. I learned not to underestimate the replacement value of chewed shoes, child toys and precious belongings, like anything made of real leather. We initially installed baby gates and restricted our dog to the kitchen until she grew out of treating the furniture like a chew toy.
Several steps need to be taken in infancy to encourage a long and healthy pet life. The Spayed Club offers low-cost spay/neuter certificates to qualified pet owners to reduce pet costs and discourage pet overpopulation that can lead to more abandonment with unwanted pet litters. Also, pet stores and vets usually have some information on types of pet insurance that, for a small fee, can eliminate costly bills later in life.
Friends and family can be tapped for advice on the best crate, bed and toys, but pets usually need an annual visit to the vet to update shots and treatments for worms, fleas and any other issues that arise. Once you know your pet needs, check reputable online sources for medicines. Discount prescription cards can be found for pets and humans alike.
Other ongoing costs to factor in are vacation time and grooming. When we couldn't take our dog with us, we exchanged services with neighbors also needing dog care throughout the year. For a short trip, we have paid a neighbor boy to check in on the dog or taken her to family who live close. For grooming, I bought a nail clipper, but I am always cautious since nipping a dog's skin can cause uncontrollable bleeding, only rectified by a special medicine. Make sure you know what you are doing if you decide to do-it-yourself to save money in this area.
Take the Next Step:
- See more on reducing pet care costs.
- Visit 1-800-PetMeds for pet vitamins, pet supplements and pet supplies.
Share your thoughts about this article with the editor
We're still paying off last Christmas and worry how we'll afford the holidays this year without charging it again! Tell us: Yes, we could use help getting out of the debt trap we're in! or No, debt is not a problem for us but I'm always looking for ways to trim my family's expenses further!
More Money-Saving Tips for Families
- Snap up these 9 deals in August
- 5 big bills you can cut fast
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- 4 steps to a simpler (and more frugal) life
- Choosing a guardian for your child
- 3 fun party ideas your nearly teen will love
- How much do kids need to know about the family budget?
- This week's Readers' Tips