Our furbabies are such a big part of our lives, and often a big part of our budgets! According to the chart below from Simple Dollar, you could spend up to $33,600 over your dog’s lifetime or $22,350 over your cat’s lifetime. This week, we are sharing our favorite tips for decreasing the cost of your pet expenses.
I have two cats, Sparrow and Turner. Like most pet parents, their health and happiness is one of my top priorities. However, this can become a large portion of your monthly budget. According to the chart from Simple Dollar, veterinary care accounts for the majority of your pet’s lifetime cost. There are ways to make this cost more manageable and even reduce the expense.
Save at the Vet
- Keep your pets up-to-date on their vet visits and their vaccinations. Animals do not always tell us if they are not feeling unwell and regular visits to your vet can help prevent serious medical issues and expensive medical bills. Most vets recommend, depending on your pet’s age and medical history, you take them to the doctor once or twice a year. Skipping even one year can be risky because pets age quicker than humans. Skipping the vet for two years in a row can be the equivalent of a person not getting a check-up for twenty years! Keeping up-to-date on vaccinations can help protect your pets from serious diseases they might come in contact with throughout their lifetimes.
- Talk to your vet about ways to bundle your services. Many vet clinics now offer wellness plans that can reduce the cost your pet’s yearly medical expenses. I have Sparrow and Turner enrolled in a wellness plan that absorbs the costs of their vet visits (including two yearly comprehensive exams), their vaccines, and gives me a discount on medications and dental cleanings. Doing the math, this plan helps save me roughly $900 a year for both cats.
- Always be prepared for unexpected medical costs. We cannot plan for everything. Even being diligent with our veterinary care cannot prevent every illness or injury. It is important to set aside money (in addition to your rainy day fund) for emergencies vet bills. Or you can look into pet insurance. This coverage typically covers treatment for illness and injury for “covered occurrences.” Depending on your pet’s age and breed, plans can be very reasonable.
- Keep your pets healthy at home. Like people, animals need to remain active in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For dog owners this means allowing you dog to get out and stretch their legs. Take them for regular walks – and not just so they can “do their business” – take them to the park or run around backyard if you have one. But please supervise them to prevent injuries. For cat and dog owners this means playtime. This is good for their physical and mental health. But toys and be expensive and create clutter.
Treats & Toys
- You only need 5 – 10 toys to keep you pets active. It also helps to rotate their toys so they do not get bored with them. Animals tend to gravitate to their favorite toys (for Sparrow this is his stuff Gir doll and wind up blue mouse, for Turner it’s his green fish and his Happy Pill doll). Buy a couple of similar or identical toys to swap out when their toys wear out. Try to find the most indestructible toys possible for your pets, and test them out – those “indestructible” massive tennis balls only last about an hour with my brother’s dog, Niko.
- Make your own pet healthy treats! These are often healthier than the store brands and your pet will still go crazy for them! There a many recipes online and it can also be fun to experiment on what flavors are your furbaby’s favorite.
- Groom your pets yourself. Simple Dollar’s chart estimates that a dog owner can spend about $14,000 on grooming a long for their dog’s lifetime! Cat owners get “lucky” at about $4,500. There are grooming activities that you can do at home to reduce costs. Learn how to give your pets “pedicures.” Clipping their nails at home can save a good deal of money per month and can be a good training and bonding experience. It important to go slow with plenty of positive reinforcement at the beginning. If you have young animals start this training the earlier the better. For nail trimming never use people nail clippers, and only clip the tip. There is a blood supply in pet nails called the Quick, and they will bleed if you trim their nails too short. Flour is a natural clotting agent that can help stop the bleeding if you cut the quick on accident. Brush your pets weekly (or more depending on their coat) to help with shedding and to reduce the frequency of a groomer visit.
Save Money & a Life.
- If you are planning to get a new pet please consider adoption. The cost of buying from a breeder can be enormous compared to adoption cost. There are many purebred animals at shelters as well, so if you are looking for a specific breed your locate shelters probably has it and those pets desperately need a forever home. Additionally make sure to spay and neuter your pets. There is an over populate of animals and this is one very good (and inexpensive) way to help out.
Owning a pet is a lifelong commitment that can add a great amount of joy to your life, but they are also not cheap to care for. So it is important to figure out if owning a pet can work into your schedule and your budget. However, owning a pet does not have to eat you out of house and home. There are many tips – even more than mentioned here – to help reduce they cost of pet ownership without sacrificing their health and your sanity.
**Pictured, Sparrow (Brown and White Tabby, top) and Turner (Orange and White Tabby, bottom) – both rescues.