28 Ways to Save Big Bucks on Pet Supplies

Even the most frugal pet owner needs to spend SOME money. The following tactics will help you stretch your funds to provide the best life you can afford for your animal companion.

How much could that doggie (or kitty) in the window cost? Anywhere from $580 to $875 per year just for the basics, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

That’s in addition to “capital costs” such as purchase or adoption fees, spaying/neutering, collar, leash, crate, carrier bag, training and microchip implantation.

Obviously, the estimates are merely that. Prices vary by region, and vet bills may be low for a while, then rise as your furry friend gets older. You may already own some of the equipment (e.g., your former cat’s carrier), or choose to borrow dog-training books from the library instead of attending formal classes.

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Too, different owners have different habits: Some lavish their dogs with toys and treats and keep them in doggy day care, while others crate-train their pooches and throw sticks during daily walks. A doting cat owner might buy a new catnip mouse every week, whereas others will never buy a single toy.

Even the most frugal pet owner is going to have to spend some money. The question is whether you’re using that money wisely. The following tactics will help you stretch available funds to provide the best life you can afford for your animal companion.

Get it online

1. Forget brick-and-mortar. Sites such as Wag.com, PetSmart and Petco regularly run sales, hand out coupons and offer free shipping for food, medication and supplies. And yes, free shipping may apply even toward heavy stuff, such as giant sacks of kibble or large boxes of kitty litter.

2. Snag rebates. Access those online merchants through a cash-back shopping site, and you’ll get rebates of up to 15 percent.

3. Go generic. Kendal Perez, who blogs at Hassle-Free Savings, always buys generic heartworm meds online for her two dogs. Recently she was about to reorder with a $5 coupon when her husband found a much better price through a different merchant. “It pays to shop around,” she says. Use a price comparison website such as PriceGrabber.com or FatWallet.com to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

4. Subscribe to save. You can set up a recurring order for products you use regularly, such as food or litter. This may mean a product discount (Amazon.com gives one), but at the very least it saves you time, gasoline and the premium you’ll pay if you find you’re out of cat food some Sunday evening.

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  • Rob F

    #1 way to save on the cost of pets is to not get pets in the first place 😉

    • Jcatz824

      Rob “F” – I have to wonder why you bothered to read this article about how to save big bucks on pet supplies since you very apparently don’t believe in having pets. Why waste your time on something you don’t care about???

      • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

        I guess some people just do not understand, do not care, or are completely clueless….

    • Y2KJillian

      Rob, that’s true, and is a sensible post. When one has pets, it’s like when one has kids–they can cost
      you a lot more than you expect, so think before you end up with them and their costs. Not to say we didn’t have kids or pets anyway…we did. And paid the price. Was it worth it? Some of it was! XD

    • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

      animals CAN, and often DO, complete one’s life in ways that another human being can not even begin to imagine…not saying anyone should go celibate, but for some, the completeness they find with a pet can only be felt in the heart.
      The pet may be a cat, a dog, a bird, it could be a reptile/amphibian, the sky’s pretty much the limit.
      A pet can bring more tranquility, peace & harmony & less stress, than any human could ever think of….

      So B4 you start condemning those of us with pets, you need to keep in mind that pets are not just pets, but they are family members that we love more than life itself.

    • Y2KJillian

      I see that you’re winking. Naturally, the #1 way to save on anything is not to do it. Think of all you can save by not eating, for example! And imagine what you could save by not living at all! But for those who indulge in living, eating, and pets, these tips and many more you can find online can be helpful.

  • Mara Cain

    Could have done without your post, Rob. It is not helpful.
    There is an organization in parts of Texas called “Don’t Forget To Feed Me”. They donate pet food along with people food. Fewer pets enter shelters if people can just get food for them.

  • jmills

    First of all, IAMS is NOT a good brand of pet food–too many recalls!

    • Skeptic_6

      jmills, just judging Iams due to recalls is not really a way to determine whether or not it is a “good” brand–it depends on the reasons for the recall(s). And a recall is certainly better than just hoping no one finds out. Who issued the recall, the manufacturer after they discovered a problem?
      The tips as offered are good for some people, evidently not for you, good for you that you have other means of determining what works for you.

    • Y2KJillian

      I wasn’t recommending IAMS in particular. And I agree with the replies below; it all depends. Since I posted a year ago, I’ve done a lot of reading and thinking about it…our girls are getting older and having some problems; heck, so are we. We love them–and I mean that sincerely. We’re doing the best we can in light of what we know now, and will continue to learn and try to do better.

  • jmills

    Secondly, the WORST thing for a dog’s teeth is a tennis ball!! Instead of saving you money, it’ll cost a fortune at a vet’s for dental work. Use a rubber ball instead, one that will withstand constant chewing.
    Finally, don’t buy supermarket pet food–it’s so full of harmful and unhealthy fillers that your pet will need more vet visits because of various avoidable illnesses. Go online and search out reputable food manufacturers and food reviews. You’ll spend a bit more up front on GOOD, SUITABLE food, but you will save at the back end on vet bills.
    In short, this article was only somewhat helpful. The writer should do more research in future instead of misleading people in a harmful way with money-saving “tips.”

    • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

      If one takes the time to research the ingredients label on every package of dog/cat/small animal/bird food, you will find that there is no such thing as GOOD, SUITABLE food, in the animal feed industry.

      So how do you make sure your “babies” are eating healthy? 2 things.

      #1) open communications with your vet at all times. let him/her advise you as to what is best.

      #2) make your own dog/cat food at home per your vet’s instructions/directions.
      Yes it means more work for you, but would you deny your own children a healthy diet if money allowed?
      Then why deny your pets?

      • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

        My vet’s advice was “The dry food from PetSmart is perfectly fine.”

        • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

          Then I suggest you follow your vet’s advice….

          I however, do not agree with his/her advice, hence wy I make my own dog/cat food.

          I’m not saying he/she is wrong or full of it, I’m just saying I do not agree with it.

          For the sake of your pets, I encourage you to follow his/her advice.

        • Jcatz4

          PetSmart sells many different brands of dry (and wet) pet foods so which brand that they sell does your vet say is perfectly fine?

    • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

      That depends on the supermarket. I just recently checked ConsumerSearch to find recommended brands of cat food for our two new kittens, and it says that the canned food from Trader Joe’s is comparable to premium brands and about half the price. And the company has an exemplary safety record: when a Chinese factory they did business with was implicated in contaminating several brands of pet food, they pulled all their food off the shelves–even though their brand was *not* one of those affected–just to do their own tests and make extra sure it was safe. I also checked and confirmed that all their pet food cans are BPA-free. So not all “supermarket brands” are created equal.

  • Y2KJillian

    You can find out online which pet foods have been subject to death-related recalls, like the recalls a while back where pets were dying because of what, melmac? in the food? Melamine? Plastic contamination from China? That was disgraceful! On that list, I found one, Purina, which has, so far, never had a recall, is manufactured IN AMERICA (a key concept) and is a decent food and sold in grocery stores (so is IAMS)–you don’t need to be overly fussy; Consumer Reports has stated that Ol’ Roy from Walmart is as good as most premium pet-store dog foods…I used to buy only Eukanuba, but after reading that article in CU, I lowered my sights a bit. My little dogs are in their 18s and still leaping on the furniture and guests; so healthy enough, although ill-trained.

    • http://ecofrugality.blogspot.com/ Amy Livingston

      Purina has had recalls, just none in the past two years. (I looked it up on a site called Pets Adviser.) I guess “Made in America” is not an absolute guarantee.

  • Patty Ellis

    Please be careful of buying generic heartworm meds online. You may not be getting what you think you are getting, and cold end up with a pet with a perfectly preventable disease that now will cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to treat, instead of that extra dollar or two per month that you thought you were saving.

    • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

      This is just my personal choice, my personal 2 cents, so please, take it as such.

      I refuse to buy medicine for my “baby boy” online…

      #1) you do not know just exactly what you’re getting….
      even with a highly detailed description.

      #2) in most cases, where the website owner claims the medicine comes from, may NOT be its true point of origin.
      How much garbage comes out of China on a daily basis & is sold to unsuspecting Americans?

      The Chinese Gov’t doesn’t give a rip about its own people, do you honestly think they are going to give a darn about someone thousands of miles away?

      #3) Lastly, in most cases, I trust people about as far as I can toss an Abram’s battle tank.
      As a general rule of thumb, people will shaft you every chance the get. enough said.

  • http://www.badgerbalm.com/ CAPERNIUS

    about saving money on cat litter…

    there is a product used in the auto industry called “oil dry”….
    I’m sure it goes by other names as well, but I believe “oil dry” to be the most common.

    The point I am trying to make is this; this “oil dry” product is made(in most cases) from ground up clay….the same material as cat litter.
    Some brands of oil dry have chemicals added to it & some do not…
    for years, I have used basic oil dry for cat litter & saved a TON of money. Now in the oil dry I use, it is nothing more than ground up natural clay, and when I buy a bag of it, cost per ounce, is about 1/4 of what I would spend for “kitty litter”.
    Just have to make sure that it is pure natural clay WITHOUT additives.

    I wish to extend my thanks to you for all the information listed in this article.
    Some I was already aware of, but the Lion’s Share of it, I had no clue…
    which is just one of oh so many reasons why I enjoy MONEY TALKS NEWS so much. : 0 )

    • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Stacy Johnson

      Thanks for the kind words and the cat litter tip, Capernius! I’m the proud companion of three cats and Lola, the Money Talks dog! :-)

      • Jcatz4

        I knew there was a reason that I liked you, Stacy! I have 3 kitties but no doggy. I also have a BF of 35 yrs. but we could never live in the same home because he is not a pet person. Have a good day!

        • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Stacy Johnson

          When Lola was a puppy, she constantly played with one of our kittens. For about a year, our house was a non-stop YouTube video. Super-cute. Now that Lola’s older, they’re still friends, but not as much action.
          Gotta love the furry children!

          • Jcatz4

            Furry children are the best!! Lily, Maggie and Zoey say “meow”.

  • Dale

    Subscribe to Facebook pages and/or send your e-mail info to your favorite pet food companies. I’ve received some awesome coupons for up to six dollars off a (very expensive) large bag of Wellness cat food. After the huge pet food contamination scare I stopped feeding my kitties Iams or any other supermarket brand. A friend with six pets (!) recommended Wellness. I also keep a spare set of coupons with no expiration date for another super premium brand of food that costs far less for when times get tough(er). When I buy my food from Petco they often have sales that include wet food from the same product line. My kitties don’t eat these wet foods so I donate them to a local shelter for better quality food for the homeless pets. It gives great satisfaction when I volunteer to be able to feed the kitties myself from my donation. Believe me when I say that every little bit helps them!

  • delgal

    I signed up for the pet food stamps and never neard back from them. This was several years ago. I read later on that the place running pet food stamps out of new york was scamming people by taking the social security numbers from their applicants and using them elsewhere.

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