According to the SPCA, the average cost per year to care for a small dog is approximately $1,300 and for a cat is $1,000*. Unsurprisingly, the high cost of pet care is one of the top five reasons people give up their pets.
Fortunately, there are some simple steps that smart pet owners can take to reduce their costs. Here are the top seven things you can do to keep both your pet and your wallet happy:
Beware of “free” pets
Think you’re saving money by getting your pet for “free”? Think again. These so-called free kittens from Craigslist or Kijiji can run up a large veterinary bill (of up to $500!) once you have them spayed, vaccinated, microchipped and examined.
A much safer option is to adopt one from the SPCA or your local shelter – this will cost approximately $150 for kittens and $350 for puppies with all of the above done for you.
You can save even more money by adopting an adult pet – pricing is usually less at around $200 for a dog or $100 for a cat. Another benefit of adopting an adult animal is that their behavioural traits are more apparent and this can help you choose the right fit for you and your family.
Food is their medicine
Feeding your pet high quality foods that don’t include fillers will help to keep them healthy and happy. Reputable brands to look out for are Hills and Purina.
Did you know you can also search for pet-related coupons? The Sunday newspaper is an excellent source for pet food and pet treat deals.
Accessorize for less
You don’t have to shop at the expensive specialty pet stores – get creative and shop via Etsy for collars and other accessories. You can get the same quality item for half the price.
Also check out pet departments at Costco, Walmart and Homesense for great deals on pet toys and equipment.
Go for mutts
Mixed dog breeds (mutts) are less expensive to care for since they typically have fewer health issues.
If you really want a purebred instead, greyhounds and poodles are also good options. To search for a particular breed of dog in your area, visit Petfinder. This site allows you to search by zip code, breed, gender, age, and size. Shelters and rescue groups (many of which specialize in a certain breed) are a great resource for purebred dogs.
Fix your costs
Fixing (AKA spaying or neutering) your pet has many money-saving advantages:
- lowers the chance of costly bylaw violations due to pets running off to find a mate
- eliminates the chance of unplanned litters
- lowers medical costs due to reduced health risks
- reduces aggressive behaviour, resulting in fewer injuries and veterinary costs from animal fights
Since many of the larger expenses associated with pet care come in the form of accidents and unplanned costs, fixing your pet is essential for saving you money down the line.
Rather than buying expensive toys that will be destroyed soon after purchase, save money with homemade toys. There are plenty of online tutorials such as this Easy DIY Dog Toy Tutorial.
Another great money-saving investment for your pet is to buy a pair of Professional Animal Clippers for around $100 – this will save you hundreds in grooming fees over the years. Regular brushing and trimming has the added benefit of helping you keep a close eye on any other health issues that might come up.
Carefully consider Pet Insurance
Regular exercise will lengthen your dog’s life and keep health issues at bay which will save you money in the long run.
Depending on your pet (cat or dog), pet insurance plans can range from $10 per month for limited accident coverage to $50 per month covering illnesses and accidents. You can compare rates and coverage at the leading companies at the Pet Insurance Review website.
Another option you can consider instead of pet insurance is to save what you would spend on insurance premiums in a high-interest savings account instead. That way you will get some growth and the money will be there when something comes up. Plus you don’t have to worry about an insurance claim being denied.
Of course, there are recurring costs for the duration of owning a pet, however being ‘frugal’ about pet care can mean a variety of things beyond ‘inexpensive’. Pets generally have a positive effect on human emotions and often act as loyal companions, so if you value your own happiness and well-being like you do money, a pet can be a net positive regardless of monetary cost.
What do you think? How do you save money on caring for your pet?