Many people with pets strive to treat their animals more like family than anything else. This usually means taking extra care to keep them healthy, including them in family activities, and buying them treats and surprises.
But you don’t have to leave your pet millions to show them your love, nor do you need to spend a lot of them while you’re alive. In fact, there are plenty of ways to be a responsible pet owner without spending much at all. Consider these hacks that may help keep pet ownership within your budget:
1. Invest in pet insurance
We all know that a sick pet can rack up some pricey medical bills, but did you know that you can buy insurance for your pet? Similar to health insurance for humans, pet insurance can kick in to cover big medical bills if your pet is injured or sick.
Prices for pet insurance can vary, but the premiums will be well worth it if you need to use your coverage.
2. Grow a pet savings account
In addition to pet insurance, it also doesn’t hurt to build up a pet savings account. If you can add $20 here and $15 there, you’ll slowly build up the money you need to cover pet care, food, and supplies in the event of an emergency. If you’re worried it will be hard to save, think of it just like your retirement account or general emergency fund.
3. Buy food and supplies in bulk
One of the easiest ways to save on pet supplies and food is to not wait until the last minute. Buy food in bulk and make sure to consider the unit price to find the best deal. If you wind up buying pet food at a grocery store in a small quantity, you’ll typically pay a lot more for a lot less.
4. Invest in preventative care
Skipping your pet’s annual shots or regular visits will likely cost you in the long run. Even if you have to pay for regular pet care, preventative procedures and visits can help you spot problems and fix them early on.
For example, while heartworm medicine for dogs can cost as little as $15 per month, treating heartworm after the fact can cost $400-$1,000 or more. Aside from the cost, heartworm treatment is notoriously inconvenient and can be painful for dogs and other pets.
5. Shop around for vets and clinics
Shopping around for vets and clinics is important. Veterinarians and animal clinics may offer competitive rates for appointments, but you’ll never know unless you check.
Before you decide on a vet, make sure to check pricing on at least three options in your area. Find out how much a basic veterinarian visit will cost, along with the price for annual shots for your dog, cat, or small animal.
6. Don’t let your pet’s weight get out of hand
Just like humans, overweight cats and dogs tend to run into more health problems than those with a healthy weight. Extra weight will hurt your pet’s quality of life, and it could lead to hip or back problems or make it hard for them to breathe. It will cost money to have any of these preventable conditions treated.
Do your pet a favor and feed them the suggested serving sizes of their chosen food based on their weight. If they still beef up, see their vet about selecting a different type of food or cutting portions down.
7. Have your pet spayed or neutered
Having your pet spayed or neutered can cost up to $200, but it can help you save money in other ways – most notably by preventing your pet from bringing other pets into the world. If you think your dog or cat is expensive, try covering food and vet bills for a family of eight!
To make the procedure as inexpensive as possible, look for low-cost spay and neuter clinics in your area and have the procedure done there instead of at your regular vet.