I don’t believe in cutting corners when it comes to caring for our pets. Not only are they members of the family, but they are completely helpless and depend on us 100% to do the best thing for them. The love and companionship they give can’t be measured by a dollar amount. But, there are ways to save on pet care, that don’t mean skimping on quality! Here are my top 5 suggestions.
1. Brush their teeth. All dogs are susceptible to plaque and tartar build up on their teeth, but some breeds are worse than others. Our little fur balls were needing their teeth cleaned once a year, in spite of the hundreds of dollars I was spending on dental chews! Dogs have to be put under to have their teeth cleaned, which not only can be dangerous, its very expensive! Since we started brushing our dogs’ teeth daily, there is a visible improvement in their teeth and it has bought us more than 6 extra months in between cleanings. This saves us between $400-600 a year! A toothbrush and toothpaste costs less than $10 at the pet store.
2. Buy in bulk. We feed our dogs top quality food, and I refuse to feed them something cheap and unhealthy to save a few dollars. But we buy the biggest bag we can, which can sometimes be half the price per ounce of a small bag. We store it in a plastic garbage can to keep it fresh and to keep critters out. This also eliminates frequent trips to the pet store where my husband might also walk out with Star Wars t-shirts for the dogs. Yes, that happened.
3. DIY grooming. My dogs are the kind that need haircuts. FREQUENTLY. At $35+ per haircut, that is well over $80 a month including tips. I watched a few You Tube videos, and by trial and error cut their hair myself. We also invested in a nail trimmer and cut their nails ourselves. While grooming your pet yourself can save a lot of money, you can also really hurt them, so make sure you take the time to educate yourself and are extremely careful. Its not worth saving a few dollars to seriously injure your pet.
I also need to note that the end results pale in comparison to what a professional groomer can do. I often joke that our dogs look like little kids whose mom gave them an awkward bowl cut. But, they don’t care and it saves us $100 a month!
4. See multiple vets. Our dogs see 3 different vets. One vet is basically retired, but works a few short hours. His office is old, and you can’t make an appointment, and has no emergency hours but he is dirt cheap. We see him for yearly vaccinations, and buy one dog’s allergy meds there. Another vet is in a very nice facility, and utilizes the latest technology. This is our main vet, and the one we would see if there were any real health issues. This vet has an after-hours emergency service, and even offers boarding (although we won’t ever do that). Our third vet is actually a 24-hour-a-day, 365-days-a-year emergency room that is about an hour away. We don’t utilize this vert often, but its comforting to know that no matter when or what we can get our dogs the emergency help we need. We rushed our Storm there once when she suddenly acted lethargic and weird, and we saved her from serious liver damage from a mis-diagnosed allergy medicine (from the cheap vet) by getting immediate help. If they were closer I would use them as our main vet, because they were amazing!
5. Shop the dollar store and clearance aisle. A lot of dogs I see have really cute collars and leashes, but they are so expensive! My dogs have plain, black leashes that I picked up at the grocery store for $2 each, and some of their favorite toys came from the dollar aisle. They have a nice bed that matches our decor that I got from a discount store for less than half of what I would have paid at a pet store. The dogs don’t care how cute something is or where you got it, and this is not an area that affects their level of care, so resist the temptation to overspend in this category.
Pet ownership is incredibly rewarding, but it can also be expensive. I hope these tips helps to save you a few dollars!