Seven ways to save on pet care: From adoption fees to food

If you’ve been a pet owner for any period of time, you don’t need us to tell you just how expensive those bills for Fido and Fluffy can get.

Whether you’re a dog or cat owner, the costs don’t stop at kibble and litter boxes. From the minute you bring your companion home, your budget will almost instantly start to feel the squeeze of pet parenthood.

To help you find ways to cut back on the costs of pet care — without sacrificing the comfort or health of your precious pooch or kitty — we’ve come up with a list of tips.

Adoption Fees

Adoption fees for cats and dogs can start as little as nothing and easily soar to $200 (cats) and $500 (dogs), according to statistics from Petfinder.com.

Adoption fees can be greatly influenced by the age and health of the animal, with lower fees associated with older, less healthy pets. 

To save up to $350, choose shelters that include the cost of veterinary services, like spaying, neutering, or vaccinations.

Either way, adoption is certainly a more cost-effective route to take than buying a pet from a breeder. That could increase your upfront costs from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the breed.

Spay/Neuter/Vaccinations

Cats and dogs are pretty much the same when it comes to spaying and neutering costs — you’ll spend $60 to $350 on a cat and $95 to $350 on a dog, according to Petfinder.

Either way, it won’t be cheap. To save on these expenses, check around to see if you can get low or no-cost surgeries at a local shelter. The ASPCA has a database to make your search a bit easier.

Veterinary Care

Prevention is the key to saving on pet healthcare needs. Schedule regular checkups to catch potentially expensive health issues early. Also, you don’t have to get every vaccine your vet offers.

Some vaccines are optional. Unless the state where you live requires it, you may not need to spend the extra cash. Talk to your pet’s veterinarian about what’s recommended and what your options are before making any choices.

Going the extra mile to brush your pet’s teeth and to check pets regularly for fleas and ticks to protect them from parasites can save you on vet care as well. Take care not to use a product intended for a dog on a cat or vice versa.

Food

Many pet owners save on food, treats, and vitamins by knowing where, when, and how to shop for these items. Ordering in bulk may help in the long run. Finding and comparing local and online deals and coupons can provide significant savings as well.

Just don’t skimp on the quality. The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends food formulated for your pet’s needs. Combined with a proper diet to avoid pet obesity — and the expensive health issues that it can cause — spending more for the right food could be more cost-effective in the long run.

Grooming

Grooming is essential for a healthy pet. Learning to groom your pet at home could mean easy savings on trips to a professional groomer, which can run up to $83 per visit for dogs. Keep your pet primped with regular at-home washing, brushing, and nail trimming to help reduce the hairballs and keep your pockets lined with extra cash. You can find tips for grooming your cat or dog at aspca.org.

Boarding 

If you plan to be out for longer than a couple of days, you may need to spend some cash on your canine’s or feline’s room and board. To save the most, hire a family member or friend to pet-sit while you’re away. Using professional boarding companies can easily cost hundreds of dollars for a stay that lasts longer than a couple of nights.

Set Up a Pet Emergency Fund

You might also consider setting aside $1,000 to $2,000 or a portion of your emergency fund for unexpected vet visits and pet emergencies throughout the year. Pet insurance can be another way to prepare for massive medical bills, but many policies come with hefty deductibles.

MagnifyMoney is a price comparison and financial education website, founded by former bankers who use their knowledge of how the system works to help you save money.


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