Whether recent events inspired you to get a pet (shelter adoptions soared by 116 percent during the pandemic!) or you’ve been a fur mom forever, caring for an animal isn’t cheap. Here are four clever ways to tame the expenses that come with new and existing pets.
Slash food costs by going generic.
A food secret many fur parents might not know? A store’s generic-label pet food often contains the same ingredients as well-known brands but at no-fuss prices. An example: American Journey, the house brand at Chewy, costs $36 for a 24-pound bag of grain-free dry dog food, compared with $54 for Blue Wilderness, reveals Elizabeth Willard of the financial independence blog Frugalwoods. Her tip: Choosing the auto-ship option at Chewy can save you even more, including 25 percent off your first order!
Take grooming into your own hands.
Many dog owners routinely shell out $45-$90 to have their pets professionally groomed. To sidestep those steep expenses (and save thousands long-term), consider “insourcing” some of the recurring services you’ve been outsourcing, like bathing, grooming, or nail clipping. Willard recommends the Safari Professional Stainless Steel Nail Trimmer (Buy on Amazon, $12.95) for easy at-home clipping. And money-saving YouTuber Meredith Helm purchased the Oneisall Dog Shaver (Buy on Amazon, $45.99) and used free online tutorials to learn how to keep her poodle’s hair tidy.
Save big on Rx bills.
There’s little doubt that medications are important to the health of your animals. But buying them directly from a vet’s office often comes with a steep markup — sometimes as much as 200 percent. Instead, try third-party sellers like Allivet, an online pet pharmacy that sells meds for up to 70 percent off. To save even more, ask your vet if you live in an area that gets cold enough to pause the need for flea and tick prevention. For her pet, Willard discovered that there was “no need to apply in the wintertime — all the bugs are frozen!”
Nab play toys for a buck.
Money quickly gets gobbled up when buying chew toys for your pets at $8-$10 a pop. The often-overlooked solution? Buy pet toys at the dollar store! “Our dog’s favorite toys are the cheapest ones we bought,” Helm says. “It’s worthwhile, especially since they’re just going to chew them to shreds anyway.” Also smart? Whip up your own free toys with items you would have trashed. For example, cut up an old T-shirt and braid it to quickly create a favorite new tug toy. Or attach a few feathers from an old duster to the end of a shoelace and create your cat’s newest fascination!
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.