Frugal Friday – Pet Care

Well, last week, my Frugal Friday post ended up being turning into a promotion for adopting a pet rather than a guide to saving money on ALL aspects of pet ownership, from getting a pet to caring for him or her.  Not that I regret encouraging adopting a pet, but once your have your furry friend, the question then becomes how can you keep your pet healthy and happy without breaking the bank?

That brings us right to the subject of today’s post, keeping your pet well while not spending a huge amount.  After all, there’s no reason that Fluffy has to ruin your retirement planning; it’s completely possible to have a pet without spending too much keeping your pet healthy and happy.  Here are a few ways to keep your pet-related spending to a minimum, without causing your pet to suffer in the process:

1. Feed Your Pet Healthy Food (and Not Too Much): Make sure your pet is eating healthy, high quality food suited for his or her needs.  This doesn’t mean that you need to spend a great deal to get the food; just as humans can eat well without having to dine on Filet Mignon every night, so can you give your pet a nutritious and healthy diet without you needing to break the bank.  One way to keep your food spending under control is by only giving your pet the recommended (by your vet or an appropriate source) amount of food.  Not only will you cut down your food spending, but you can also help to keep your pet at a healthy weight.

Since we're talking about pets, here's a picture of me 'enjoying' breakfast with my dog Toby

2. Buy Pet Food in Bulk (If Possible): As with most things, buying larger quantities at once will enable you to generally pay a lower per unit price.  Buying a 30 pound bag of dog food will cost you less per pound than getting a five pound bag.  Note, though, that depending on your type of pet, and the type of food your pet eats, this might not be possible; it’s much harder to stock up on, say, live mice for your snake in the same way as buying a large bag of dog food.  Of course, we’re on the subject of alternative food sources for your pet…

3. Prepare Your Own Pet Food: Depending on your type of pet (and possibly your skill in the kitchen) it might be possible to prepare food for your pet and save money that way.  Besides the opportunity for savings (which shouldn’t be underestimated), there’s also the ability to have greater control over what your pet is eating, thus avoiding any of the less savory ingredients that sometimes make their way into pet food.

4. Take Your Pet In For Regular Veterinary Check-Ups: Here’s one of those things that might seem counter intuitive; wouldn’t taking your pet to the vet more often end up costing more?  True, but trying to save money by not getting regular check-ups (for your pet or for you, while we’re on the subject) is being penny wise and pound foolish; you’ll save money in the short term, but risk your animal coming down with a disease that could have been prevented, which can end up costing you much more.  The better approach is to try to catch things as early as possible, before they become serious and expensive to treat.

5. Groom Your Pet Yourself: It’s tempting to take your little Fluffy-Kins or Sir Cuddlebottom to a fancy boutique and let them get all pampered and styled by professionals; unfortunately, that route tends to get expensive.  Instead, for the price of a single salon visit for your furry friend, you can purchase everything you need for most grooming purchases at many retail outlets; with a little practice, you’ll be styling your pet like a pro for mere pennies per grooming session.  There are plenty of hints on how to groom your pet frugally out there, if you just look.

6. Play With Your Pet: Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you this, but playing with your pet is a great way to keep them healthy and happy.  Frolicking with your pet outside, going for long walks, or simply grabbing a favorite toy and seeing how long it takes them to get it from you can all serve to keep your pet (and yourself) healthy and happy.  Plus, what’s the fun of having a pet if you don’t frolic every now and then?

How do you keep your pet costs down?  Are pets worth the price you pay to keep them (in money, time, and effort)?  Isn’t Toby just adorable?

5 Responses to Frugal Friday – Pet Care

  1. “One way to keep your food spending under control is by only giving your pet the recommended (by your vet or an appropriate source) amount of food.”

    I agree with everything except this line. I don’t trust many vets when it comes to recommending a brand of food. Far too many vets will automatically recommend the brand/s they sell (Science Diet, Purina, etc.), especially if they can sell you rx food for some reason or another. My parents pay a boatload of money for rx food for their retriever, while we pay less for better quality food (in some cases MUCH better quality, SD’s allergy food is awful)!

    Certainly, not all vets do this, but an unfortunate number do. Everyone should research their pet food, after working at Petco for a time I was shocked by how ignorant so many people are about what their pets are eating. Don’t take anyone’s suggestions as gospel until you look it up yourself.

    Ahh, tangents. :) I enjoyed the article!

  2. @Rebecca: Fair enough; there is certainly reason to believe that vets (and other health sources) might try to distort the truth about your pet’s (or your) food or other requirements. A certain level of skepticism about anything you hear, and plenty of research into other alternatives, is always a healthy plan. Thanks for your tangent; it’s always nice to know I’m inspiring people to share their stories.

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