Money Saving Ideas for Pet Care: Tips for Saving on Food, Veterinary Care, Toys and Supplies

Saving money on pet care costs is imperative for those pet owners faced with a dwindling income and higher prices. As consumer costs rise, pet owners are being forced to make difficult choices about their dogs and cats. According to “Economy Forces People to Give Up Pets”, a Philadelphia Inquirer article written by Melissa Dribben, animal shelters throughout the country are reporting an increase in unwanted animals.

Pet owners cite the high cost of feeding and providing veterinary care as reasons for dropping off their pets at shelters. Others owners have to give up pets due to a change in living arrangements, with some even becoming homeless because of job loss. Pet owners looking for a way to economize on pet care basics may wish to consider the following tips.

Look for Affordable Veterinary Care

When times are tough financially, there are a few things pet owners can do to decrease pet care costs and avoid the prospect of giving up their pets. Veterinary care can take a large chunk out of a budget, particularly high-priced emergency veterinary care.

Humane Societies and SPCAs in some areas offer low-cost veterinary clinics open to the public. Those organizations that don’t offer full-service clinics may still occasionally offer rabies shots at a discount or may offer low-cost spay/neuter days. Many veterinary schools provide clinics that may be less costly than local veterinary hospitals.

Few veterinarians offer payment plans since the advent of credit cards, but many do offer financing through a variety of companies, such as CareCredit. These plans finance a pet’s treatment and may feature interest-free payments for a specified time.

Buying pet health insurance when a pet is young and in good health can be a good investment. Plans details vary, but good plans cover a percentage of the costs for well visits and the treatment of common illnesses and disorders.

Become Your Own Groomer

While sending the dog to the groomer is a more pleasant experience for everyone involved, owners can bathe and brush pets themselves to save a few dollars. Cutting nails can be done at home with a good pair of clippers and a helper or two. Owners of dogs with clipped coats can even attempt basic cuts at home, but may feel more comfortable leaving the complicated cuts to groomers.

Find Cheaper Food and Pet Supplies

Check circulars and websites for the best deals on food, cat litter, dishes and treats. Large pet stores often have cat and dog supplies on sale, but don’t neglect checking prices at discount stores. While finding a deal is a good thing, owners need to be sure not to scrimp on food quality, as eating poor quality food can result in illness and veterinary bills in the future. Buying in bulk is a good way to save money, particularly if pet owners can split the cost with another owner.

Homemade Toys Are a Good Option

Dogs love balls, homemade or store bought. Old socks can be used to make a ball by stuffing several socks inside one long sock and knotting it above the stuffed area. The toy is machine washable and costs nothing to make.

Cat fishing rod toys can easily be constructed at home. A wooden dowel with a string tied to one end quickly becomes a toy. A small stuffed animal or toy added to the end of the string provides a cat with a convenient object to bat and chase. Homemade fishing rods should be kept out of reach when not in use to prevent the cat from accidentally swallowing the string or becoming entangled in it.