Easy Ways to Turn July 4th Into a Longer Vacation. Find Out How at aarp.org/takeaday

 

10 Tricks to Curb Pet Care Costs

Here's how to make owning an animal a little less expensive

  • Sam Edwards/Getty Images

    A Hairy Home Companion

    Nearly 80 million American households now own one or more pets, a 50 percent increase from two decades ago, according to the most recent owners survey by the nonprofit trade group American Pet Products Association. We love our pets, but properly caring for them can be an expensive proposition. Here are some tips for reducing pet care costs.

    1 of 13
  • Istock

    Save a Life — and Money — by Adopting

    Adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue group is not only the most humane option, it's also more economical. An animal that comes from a shelter usually has been seen by a veterinarian, received vaccinations and often has been spayed or neutered. If you're looking for a pet to adopt, check out PetfinderAdoptapet.com and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

    2 of 13
  • Istock

    Pick a Pet to Fit Your Budget

    Larger pets generally cost more to care for than smaller animals because food is usually the single largest expense. The average annual cost of care is $875 for a large dog, $670 for a cat, $200 for a small bird and $35 for a fish – not including the cost of setting up an aquarium. If you're considering getting a mixed-breed dog, ones that are 10 to 20 pounds are typically the least expensive to own, according to the ASPCA.

    3 of 13
  • Alamy

    Shop for Pet Food at Discount Stores

    Membership warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam's Club, and other big-box stores such as Walmart and Target, tend to have the best deals on dog and cat food, according to Consumer Reports. And don't pay extra for pet foods labeled "premium," which has no legal nutritional definition. Instead, any pet food (including store brands) labeled "complete and balanced," "total nutrition" or "100 percent nutritious" should meet minimum nutritional standards and be adequate for almost all healthy pets, Consumer Reports says.

    4 of 13
  • Gregg Vignal/Alamy

    Homemade Pet Toys

    Pets love simple toys that can often be made with things you already have around the house. Search for homemade pet toy ideas on websites like Pinterest and Etsy.com.

    5 of 13
  • Getty Images

    AARP Offer: Protect your money, grow your nest egg

    Take advantage of great information and tools to help build your future and prevent your money from going down the drain.   Join AARP and start saving for your future today.

    6 of 13
  • Istock

    Don't Overfeed Your Pet

    Chances are, you should feed your pet less. Overfeeding is an epidemic among the U.S. pet population, according to CNN. Not only will it cost you more in food, it can lead to obesity and related health problems. Pet food maker Merrick offers a calculator to determine how many calories per day your dogs or cats should consume to maintain their ideal weight, based on the weight recommendation of your vet.  

    7 of 13
  • Istock

    Save on Pet Meds

    Get prescriptions filled online through reputable providers such as PetCareRX and 1-800-PetMeds, which often offer discounts and special promotions. Or if you have a Kroger or Target store in your area, get generic pet meds through their pharmacy for as low as $4.

    8 of 13
  • Alamy

    Brush Your Pet's Teeth Regularly

    Brushing can help reduce costly dental procedures as well as gum disease, which can lead to heart and kidney problems. The American ASPCA recommends brushing two or three times per week, once your dog or cat has become accustomed to the process. Remember not to use toothpaste made for people, as it contains fluoride and may upset your pet's stomach.

    9 of 13
  • Alamy

    DIY Grooming and Training

    Check YouTube and other online sites for pet grooming and training videos, many of which focus on specific breeds. And for less than $20 — cheaper than the cost of a typical dog grooming session — you can buy a home pet-clipper kit that includes everything you need to keep Fido properly coiffed.

    10 of 13
  • Alamy

    Opt Out of Pet Health Insurance

    For most, pet health insurance is probably not a smart money move. That's because the most cost-effective insurance policies are those designed to protect you against financial ruin or extreme hardship, as opposed to financial inconvenience. While worst-case medical expenses for pets can be significant, unless they have the potential of upending your personal finances in a major way, skip the insurance. Instead, set up an emergency fund for your pets and make a small contribution to it each month.

    11 of 13
  • Getty Images

    If You're Really Having Financial Trouble

    Not only are there many local and national nonprofit groups devoted to finding good homes for pets in need, but many of these and other groups offer assistance programs for pet owners who are having trouble affording to keep their pets. A Humane Society directory lists organizations and programs nationwide that offer everything from free support services to financial aid.

    12 of 13
  • 13 of 13

Join the Discussion

0 | Add Yours

Please leave your comment below.

You must be logged in to leave a comment.

Next Article

Read This