Yes, your pet is just like family. But you don’t need to waste money caring for your furry friend.
This year, owners will spend an estimated $72.13 billion on their pets, according to the American Pet Products Association. 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 are 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 welfare groups in your area at Petfinder.com. The 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 $535 annually in 2017, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. For cats, it was $335.
Such insurance can make sense if your pet is a member of a breed that has a history of high-cost medical needs. Pet surgeries and medical treatments are so prevalent now that pet health insurance providers are routinely entering the marketplace. That has made it easier for pet owners to personalize insurance and find cost-effective plans.
3. Don’t forget to coupon
If you are signed up for cash-back sites — such as Ebates, Mr. Rebates or Swagbucks — 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 Tips for Slashing Your Pet Food Bill.”
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 and Pets Can Stay are sites that will help you find animal-friendly accommodations. Also, check with your vet 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, says VetStreet. A twisted towel can make a great toy for tug-of-war with a dog, the site notes. Just make sure you avoid toys 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. Also, be aware of the common hazards your species and breed face. Check out “10 Pet Dangers You Don’t Know About.” Read up on the type of critter you have and get tips from animal-safety advocates like the Center for Pet Safety and American Humane.
What expenses have you run into with your pet? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.
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