A recent Forbes survey found that 78% of pet owners brought home new pets during the pandemic. However, thousands of people are now surrendering dogs, cats and other animals to shelters and rescues, many because of inflation and the high costs of pet ownership.
“The majority of what we’re seeing is because they don’t have the money to take care of the animals, the money to feed the animals or vet care,” Vanessa Heenan, Director of the Boone Area Humane Society, told WHO 13 News in Des Moines, Iowa. “Landlords, wherever they live, are requiring a deposit or rent for their pet and they can no longer afford that.”
If you have pets and are also feeling the pinch, several measures can help you save money while caring for your pet. Try incorporating these tactics to keep your furry family member safe, healthy and happy at home with you.
Negotiate Pet Fees
If you are moving into a new rental that requires a substantial pet deposit, fees or monthly pet rent, see if the property manager is willing to consider a compromise. If possible, provide references from past landlords, roommates or neighbors who can vouch for your pet’s good behavior and for leaving the property clean and undamaged.
Ask if the landlord will waive all or part of any fees if you agree to sign a longer lease upfront. Describing ways you will pet-proof the home may also help sway them. Inviting the manager to meet your well-behaved pet might be helpful as well.
Find Alternatives For Routine Care
It is vital to have an established relationship with your pet’s veterinarian. However, seeking free or low-cost preventive care and treatments can be more affordable. For instance, many shelters and non-profit organizations like the SPCA frequently hold vaccination clinics and perform affordable spaying and neutering.
Farm supply stores are another resource for low-cost pet vaccinations. In addition, government-funded animal shelters and vet schools may also offer free and low-cost vaccinations, spaying and neutering, dental cleaning and other preventive health services.
Shop Around For Food
In 2020, U.S. pet owners spent $50 billion on pet food and treats. Several strategies can help you decrease your personal spending in this category. For instance, if you are loyal to one brand, look for deals at different stores and websites before you buy. Sign up with the brand’s website for promotional emails that may include coupons, discounts and sales. Ask your vet’s office if they also have coupons or samples.
Make sure you aren’t overfeeding your pet. According to a recent report by Banfield Pet Hospital, 34% of dogs and 38% of cats seen at the practice in 2020 were overweight or obese, which can lead to numerous health issues. Referring to your vet and pet food label to ensure you are feeding your furbaby the right amount can help keep them healthy — and will likely save you money. Be sure to factor in daily treats, as well.
Consider Insurance Or A Vet Discount Plan
Typically, pet insurance is low-cost coverage that will reimburse you for certain types of veterinarian expenses. Some plans will only cover emergencies, illnesses or accidents, while others offer wellness coverage, such as regular office visits, vaccinations and prescriptions. Typically, you must meet a deductible before coverage begins, and there may also be co-pays. Comparing premiums and coverage of several different pet insurance providers could be a smart way to save big in the event of a costly medical emergency.
A veterinary discount plan is not insurance but could help decrease vet bills. A discount plan offers discounted rates when you take your pet to a veterinarian within the program’s network. These plans typically have a low monthly or one-time fee. However, special pricing may only apply to certain services, and the list of participating vets can be limited, so research any plan you consider before signing up for it.
Learn Basic Grooming
If you have a pet that requires regular grooming, you could be dropping more than $800 a year (before tips) on trips to the groomer. So, while you might not want to try your hand at a poodle cut or a lion cut, you could save some cash by caring for your pet’s basic grooming needs at home.
For instance, bathing and brushing your pet’s hair are relatively simple to do yourself. You can also learn other grooming basics, such as trimming their nails, cleaning their eyes and brushing their teeth. So, while your furry friend might still require visits to the groomer, you could make those appointments less frequently and spend less over time.
Buy In Bulk
Purchasing kibble, treats, litter and other pet supplies in larger packages or quantities is generally more economical than buying smaller amounts more frequently. If lugging home oversized bags is difficult, check online retailers like Chewy, PetFlow or Amazon, where you’ll find options to have the goods delivered to your home. You’ll likely also find low prices and free shipping options, which makes it even easier.
Also, if you are using an online option for pet supplies you always use, look into a subscription. Most online pet retailers offer discounts when you set up recurring automatic orders. As a bonus, you won’t have to remember to buy more before you run out.
Offer Homemade Toys And Treats
Some pets will coddle a treasured toy for years, while others can destroy a plaything in minutes. One way to save on fun things for your furry friend is to DIY homemade toys. For instance, you can create a snuffle mat by tying pieces of fabric to an old bathmat or rug for your dog’s enrichment. And cat owners already know how much happiness pets can find in an empty box.
You can also make tasty, nutritious, affordable treats with ingredients already in your kitchen. For example, sliced sweet potatoes can become healthy dog chews. And with nothing more than an egg and a can of tuna, you can whip up some treats your kitty will beg for.
Join (Or Start) A Local Pet Parent Group
If you occasionally need a petsitter, dog walker or a place to board your furbaby, consider swapping with other pet owners in your area. Apps and sites like PetSwapp and PetFam help pet owners connect and exchange services. Alternatively, you might turn to local social media groups to find like-minded pet owners who would be interested in starting a co-op of sorts.
With a little creativity and just a bit of extra effort, you can cut many costs associated with having pets in your home. Of course, you can’t put a price tag on unconditional love, but saving some cash without sacrificing your pet’s happiness is worth it.