Owning a pet is a wonderful experience, but it isn’t always cheap. The American Pet Products Association found that Americans spent approximately $55 billion on their pets in 2013, and that number is expected to climb to $58 billion in 2014.
If you own a pet, chances are you feel the financial crunch from time to time. But fortunately, there are ways to save on caring for your pet, and they might not be what you’d expect.
1. Spay or Neuter Your Pet
If you think that spaying and neutering only serves to keep your pet from getting pregnant or impregnating, think again. While controlling the pet population is a very important reason to fix your pet, it’s not the only one. Spaying and neutering can also save you money in the long run by improving your pet’s behavior and cleanliness and preventing certain diseases that could be costly to treat down the road.
Spaying or neutering improves your pet’s behavior by reducing the likelihood of sex-related aggression that can lead to fighting and expensive injuries. Spaying and neutering also controls marking around the house, which can help you to save on cleaning bills. As far as preventing costly diseases, neutering eliminates the possibility of your male cat or dog getting testicular cancer, and spaying keeps female pets from developing uterine cancer and reduces the risk of breast cancer.
These routine surgeries very rarely have complications, and most veterinarians suggest that you spay or neuter your pet around six months of age. To save on the procedure itself, you can search for low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area on the ASPCA website. A benefit of PetPlus is Pet Assure, which provides 25% off vet visits and procedures at participating vets.
RELATED STORY: How Much Should Spaying A Pet Cost?
2. Buy In Bulk and Consider Splitting Supplies
Buying in bulk tends to be less expensive, whether we are talking about packs of paper towel or bags of pet food. Buying in bulk might be something that you already do if you have multiple or large pets, but if you have a small pet or only one furry friend, it might not seem convenient.
It can be, however, if you have the space to safely store bulk items. Food should be kept in an airtight container, and food that won’t be used within a month should go in the freezer. If you don’t have enough room to store a bulk purchase, find someone who wants to share in the haul. Maybe you have a neighbor who owns a dog, and they’d like to split a bag of healthy food. Or perhaps you have a few cat-owning friends who would want to get together and throw down on a massive sack of litter. Reach out to your network; saving on your pet’s supplies might just be a phone call away.
3. Feed Your Pet The Right Amount Of Food
Seem obvious? You’d be surprised. According to a recent study by The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 50% of pets are overweight, and overfeeding is one of the leading causes of obesity in pets. Overfeeding therefore not only harms your wallet, it can also harm your four-legged friend. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine the correct portion size for your pal.
Remember that the portions indicated on most pet food labels refer to the average pet, and depending on your pet’s size, age, health, and activity level, their needs may be different. In addition, you should avoid free-feeding your pet, and you should serve your pet’s portion out of a measuring cup (as opposed to a scoop or coffee cup) to be sure that you’re doling out the exact recommended portion.
RELATED STORY: Your Dog Food Questions Answered
4. Alternative Boarding
Travelling tends to be expensive even if you don’t have a pet. If you do, you’ll need to add to your spending the cost of boarding your pet for each day you’ll be away. Going with traditional means of boarding such as a kennel can cost between $25-$45 per night. However, there are other options out there, such as in-home boarding. In-home boarding has become very popular not only because it is less expensive than kenneling (some in-home boarders charge as little as $15 per night), but also because your pet stays in a comfortable home environment, receives individualized attention, and is less likely to catch diseases that sometimes show up in boarding facilities.
DogVacay.com is one website that makes finding an in-home boarder incredibly easy. You can search by geographic location, browse profiles of boarders who have already passed a background check, and read reviews of boarders by pet parents.
Want to save even more on pet boarding? Sign up for PetPlus and get $50 off dog boarding services.
5. Buy Your Pet’s Medications Online
When your veterinarian prescribes a medication for your pet, you don’t need to purchase it then and there at the vet’s office. In fact, buying medication at the vet’s office is considerably more expensive than buying online. Why? Because according to The American Animal Hospital Association, vets mark up medications from 100 percent to 1000 percent!
These markups are so drastic because vets need to compensate for the fact that they aren’t purchasing medications in bulk, mostly because they won’t be prescribing large amounts of specific medications, but also because they don’t have the space to store bulk orders. Online pharmacies, however, do have the space and do buy in bulk, and therefore can pass those savings on to you. With PetPlus, for example, you could save up to 75% on your pet’s medications.
Do you know some other not-so-obvious ways of saving on pet care? Leave a comment below!