It’s no surprise that having a pet can mean transferring money from the “fun” category of your budget to “vet” and other categories you never had before. The costs of pet ownership are many — and they’re not cheap. But having a pet, as almost any pet owner will tell you, has its perks, too. Thankfully, there are ways to tackle the common pet expenses so they fit nicely within your budget. Here are five ways to save some cash while still caring for your pets.
Prioritize Your Pet’s Health
While veterinary care is important, there are plenty of steps you can take at home to ensure your pet’s health and minimize costly vet visits. One step is grooming your pet. Nail trimming, teeth cleaning, brushing, and washing can all help your pet maintain good health, and if you do these things at home, they’re practically free (minus supplies).
Exercise is another important step you can take to keep your pet healthy, happy, and well-behaved. There are plenty of great ways to exercise your pet depending on your lifestyle and your pet’s needs; you can go on long walks, play chase in the house, create activities with toys, play fetch, swim, or socialize your pet with other animals.
Poor hygiene and dental care or limited activity can lead to health problems and expensive veterinary bills down the road. These are easily preventable with regular grooming and exercise.
Lean on Family and Friends
If you have a pet, you probably had some pet exposure prior that led you to pursue pet ownership yourself. Knowing others with pets can be extremely helpful when trying to save money on common pet expenses. For instance, your aunt’s dog could have outgrown its crate, your cousin could have an old fish tank, or your friend could have dozens of extra toys laying around. Don’t be shy about asking friends and family who have or have had pets if they have any supplies they don’t need anymore or can lend you for a little while. You’ll be surprised how many beds, toys, and even old towels or blankets you can collect that will come in handy with your new pet and save you from having to buy everything brand new.
Leaning on family and friends is also important when you need someone to watch your pet. Keep track of the people who offer to dog- or cat-sit or feed your reptiles and take them up on it when you go out of town. Placing your pet in a boarding facility or with a pet sitter can be one of the most expensive costs of pet ownership, so utilizing friends and family (and always sending them a thank you card or gift) will save you big time. Plus, you’ll be able to travel in peace knowing your pet is in a safe environment where it feels comfortable and you can easily check in.
Adopt or Foster
One of the largest costs of owning a pet comes at the beginning when you adopt or pay a breeder. This can deplete your savings account by thousands of dollars if you get a sought-after breed. Meanwhile, there are countless pets who are rescued or found and in need of adoption. Not only is the adoption fee substantially lower when you get your pet from a shelter, but you are also providing a safe and loving home to one of the many animals who really need it.
Similarly, if you would love to have a pet but aren’t sure you’re ready for the financial responsibility, you can consider fostering through a local shelter. Foster pet parents are always needed and the shelter usually provides all the necessary supplies, including food and bedding, and medicines if needed.
Consider Signing Up for Pet Insurance
It may seem like a budget-breaker to pay $40 a month for care you may never use, but if the unexpected happens, you’ll be thanking yourself if your pup snags a chocolate bar out of your bag, or worse, steps out into the street when you aren’t looking. These are just two of all-too-common occurrences that leave pets in urgent care and their owners with hefty vet bills.
If you are considering pet insurance, it’s important to get it when your pet is young, otherwise many pet insurance companies won’t cover a lot of common ailments as your pet ages. It could also be helpful if you have a breed that is prone to illness.
Some insurance companies also offer a preventative care package (for an extra fee, of course). It should include an annual check-up, standard vaccines, and tests for parasites and diseases.
There are so many companies offering pet insurance these days, whether it’s your regular insurance company or one that specializes in coverage for your furry friends. Make sure to shop around to see which plans cover what, and how much the monthly costs are. It might be a better plan to instead start a high-yield savings account that you put that same amount into monthly and use that for your veterinary care. Just make sure to choose whichever option is best for you and your pet.
Make the Most of Local Resources
Many cities offer animal care services that can help you afford the basic costs of pet ownership, such as low-cost spaying and neutering centers, free training classes, and pet food pantries. It’s a good idea to take advantage of these low-cost options if you need them. Spaying and neutering your pet, in particular, can prevent a litter as well as medical issues, such as mammary and testicular cancers that could cost you money in the future. Check around in your area for low-cost facilities or vouchers, to make the procedure more affordable. You can research your own city’s resources or the resources made available by local shelters to find support for pet expenses that feel unmanageable.
Owning a pet is a big financial responsibility, but with proper budgeting, research, and a little help, managing your pet’s expenses can be much easier.