For many of us, pets are beloved members of the family whose sweet meows and wagging tails provide years of laughter and lasting joy. But, as every pet owner knows, it can be surprisingly expensive to care for an animal. According to the ASPCA, cat and dog owners will typically spend $1,000 to $1,900 on pet care in the first year alone.
Use these seven tips to reduce expenses without compromising your pet’s health or happiness:
Pet Emergency Fund: Emergency funds are critical for unexpected expenses like a blown tire, broken dishwasher… or even your pup’s parvovirus. Be sure to set aside extra funds for the health care for your pet, taking your pet’s age, breed and health history into account.
Pet Insurance: Even better, consider investing in pet insurance. There’s no question that health insurance is important for humans, and it’s important for animals too. Just like humans, pets’ health often declines as they get older – and veterinary care for aging animals can be quite costly. Purchase a policy while your pet is healthy so you can obtain the medical care your pet needs without incurring staggering vet expenses.
Spay or Neuter Your Animals: In addition to preventing an unexpected litter, spaying or neutering your pet protects against serious health problems like testicular, ovarian and uterine cancer. Your local humane society or ASPCA can point you to free or low-cost spay/neuter programs in your area.
At-Home Grooming and Care: Learn how to provide basic care for your pets. Bathe and groom them at home, brush their teeth regularly to avoid dental disease, trim their nails to protect against injury, and regularly check their coats for fleas and ticks to prevent minor skin irritations and even life-threatening anemia. As with humans, such preventive measures keep your pets healthy and happy for the long-term.
Regular Check-Ups: Regular veterinary visits will help you protect your animal against illnesses, identify health concerns before they become major issues, and stay on top of essential vaccinations. You can also ask your veterinarian if he/she offers a wellness plan, which can save you money over the long-term, especially during your pet’s first year.
Healthy Diet: A good diet is critical to your pet’s long-term health and wellness, but price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality when it comes to pet food. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a food that’s available in bulk at pet stores, big-box retailers or warehouse discount stores. Also, avoid feeding your pet table scraps. As America’s obesity rate has climbed, our pets have followed suit. Obesity causes health problems in animals just as it does in humans.
Shop Deals and Discounts: Price shop for pet food, grooming supplies and medicine, and always keep an eye out for special deals. Signing up for rewards cards at major pet suppliers like PetSmart or Petco will earn you in-store discounts and coupons by mail. Sites like discountpetmedicines.com and 1800petmeds.com provide trusted brand-name medicines at a reduced cost. You can even “shop” local vets by comparing fees for wellness plans and emergency visits.
If you don’t have a pet but are considering it, visit ASPCA to determine whether owning a pet is affordable for you.