Yes, your pet is just like family. But you don’t need to waste money caring for your furry friend.
The American Pet Products Association estimates that in 2021, U.S. pet owners will have spent an estimated $109.6 billion on their pets.
Don’t go crazy adding extra cash to that total. Instead, consider these ideas to keep your pet and your budget happy.
1. Look for low-priced vet care
There is a host of no-cost and low-cost animal medical care providers. They offer inexpensive vaccinations, spaying, neutering and more.
Contact rescue or other animal-welfare groups, including the one where you adopted your pet. You can get a rundown of animal shelters and rescue groups in your area at Petfinder.com. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also has a list of low-cost spay and neuter programs for which your pet may qualify.
The Humane Society has a list of charities that provide needy pet owners with financial assistance for the medical care of pets. Click on your state to find a charity near you.
2. Consider pet insurance
As we’ve previously reported, the cost of pet health insurance depends on many variables, including your pet’s species and breed, where you live and your pet’s age.
To give you an idea, the average accident and illness premium for dogs was $594.15 annually in 2020, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. For cats, it was $341.81.
Such insurance can make sense if your pet is a member of a breed that has a history of high-cost medical needs.
3. Don’t forget to coupon
If you are signed up for cash-back sites — such as Rakuten, Swagbucks or Mr. Rebates — you can save even more on your online pet supply purchases in the form of a cash-back check. If you’re not signed up for one or all of these sites, you are missing out on a painless way to save money online. Check them out.
Also read: “8 Ways to Save Money on Pet Food.”
4. Consider boarding alternatives
Rather than pay to board your dog or cat when you go out of town, consider taking your pet with you on trips. PetsWelcome helps you find animal-friendly accommodations.
Also, check with Rover or with your veterinarian to find a low-cost, in-home pet-sitter. Or, arrange to swap pet-sitting duties with friends who also need their pets cared for when they’re away from home.
5. Create low-cost toys
Retailers sell a variety of pet toys at a high cost, but it’s just as easy to devise low-cost alternatives. You can make a cat scratching post by wrapping sisal rope around a post. A twisted towel can make a great toy for tug-of-war with a dog.
Just make sure you avoid toys or materials that could prove toxic or result in choking. Talk to your vet or those at local animal shelters for other ideas.
6. Prioritize prevention
As with humans, pets are less likely to need expensive medical attention if they have good health habits.
Get the recommended immunizations for your pets, stick with recommended dog and cat foods, keep cats indoors and make sure dogs get the exercise they need.