Making caring for your dog or cat affordable

Reducing the Cost of Pet Care

by Veronica Bowman

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According to the American Pet Products Association we spend over $50 billion annually on our pets. And, since they're a part of the family, the cost of pet care, pet food, and pet supplies must be incorporated into the monthly budget. Just as with all other monthly expenses, finding ways to control spending on pet care is essential to a frugal living lifestyle. However, you do not want to sacrifice the care of your pets. You may be surprised at the healthful and easy ways that you can reduce pet care costs.

Pet food can take a chunk out of the monthly budget, especially if you have numerous pets or large dogs. You can find valuable information concerning the basic ingredients you should look for when buying dog or cat food at Pet expert Arden Moore emphasizes that protein should always be the main ingredient. Natural pet food is generally more expensive than brands that contain fillers. As all frugal shoppers know, sometimes spending a little more upfront can save money in the long term. Dogs will require smaller amounts of the natural food, and it can also help prevent pet obesity, which can shorten the life of your pet or involve expensive vet bills to handle illnesses caused by obesity.

You can implement your usual frugal shopping techniques to save money on higher quality, natural dog and cat food. Always search for coupons to save money. Look for discounts offered by specific online manufacturer sites. If you can store the food in an airtight container so that it retains its freshness, you can take advantage of promotions and sale prices at pet supply stores.

Compare the top 5 pet loyalty programs

It's very tempting to want to spoil your pet by giving it treats. However, treats can be expensive and can also contribute to weight gain. Rather than pay high prices for small bags of treats, use "people food" as a treat. Apples, carrots, boiled eggs, green beans, and dehydrated sweet potatoes are a few alternative treats for dogs. You might want to try unsalted, unbuttered popcorn, small amounts of cheese or yogurt, and boiled eggs with your cat. As a word of caution, not all "people food" is safe for dogs and cats so check out a reliable source for a list of unsafe foods. An excellent, simplified list of human food that is safe or unsafe for dogs and cats can be found at

Vet bills can take a chunk out of your budget. In some cases, you can be proactive in preventing these bills. As mentioned, a healthy diet can reduce the risk of obesity and numerous other health related issues. You can comparison shop for routine veterinarian care. Be sure the vaccinations you're getting for the pet are necessary. Indoor pets are not subjected to the same situations as outdoor pets so some vaccines may not be necessary. Pet organizations often offer low cost spay/neuter programs or vaccines at a reduced cost. One easy way to prevent high vet bills is to take measures to assure the pet's safety.

Related: 5 ways to reduce vet bils

Just as with children, you need to protect your pets from poisoning. That means keeping hazardous products securely locked away so that there is no chance of the pet getting into a poisonous substance. This includes everything from cleaning products to prescription medications. Plants can be toxic to pets. Be sure to check the list of poisonous plants before adding them to your home or landscape.

Pets depend on you to provide a safe environment. This includes protection from traffic and outdoor predators. Cats are the safest when kept indoors at all times. Dogs are safest in a fence or on a leash. Older pets may require a few extra safety measures. Aging dogs may need a ramp to reach their favorite corner on the sofa. A fall from the height of an adult bed or sofa could result in a broken bone or hip injury to an aging Chihuahua, Dachshund, or other small breed dog so it may be necessary to confine them to safe places when you can't be with them.

Save on your pet's medications at 1-800-PetMeds.

Many financial planners and advisors do not feel that pet insurance is a wise expenditure. The policies involve numerous restrictions and reimbursement often requires a deductible. Pre-existing conditions and genetic problems are often not covered. It is quite possible to spend more in insurance premiums than you will pay in vet bills. A frugal alternative to pet insurance is to establish a pet fund where you set aside a certain amount of money each month for unexpected or annual pet care cost.

Pets are wonderful companions. You can manage the cost of their care by frugally shopping for food, supplies, and veterinarian services as well as by taking simple steps to ensure their safety.

Take the Next Step:

  • Compare the top 5 pet loyalty programs to see if you can find even more savings.
  • Stop overpaying for your pet's medications. See how much 1-800-PetMeds can help you save.
  • Don't let your pets take such a bite out of your budget! The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Frugal Pet Care can show you smart ways to love your pet while spending less.
  • Could spending 5 minutes reading a newsletter twice a week save you time and money every day? Dollar Stretcher Tips readers think so. Subscribe and find out how many ideas stretch your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE.

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