How to Spoil Your Pet Without Blowing Your Budget
Spending on family pets is at an all-time high. From elaborate pet toys to adorable sweaters and swanky carriers, pet parents are in love with their animals and want to show them affection by spoiling them.
Gone are the days when cats roamed the neighborhood and dogs were tied up in a backyard. Not only is it considered politically incorrect, but many pet owners today view their animals as members of the family and want to keep them indoors and pampered.
So how do you care for your pet without spending as much money as you would on a child? Here are some tips on how to spoil your pet without blowing your budget:
1. Don’t Buy Animal Fashions & Fancy Accessories
It may be tempting to buy a dog sweater or blingy cat collar, but those discretionary items can be as expensive as baby clothes, and often more! When it comes to sweaters, animals don’t generally need the extra warmth. Their fur protects them much more than you realize. It’s more likely they will suffer from too much heat in the summer than being too cold in the winter, assuming you’re not taking them to the Arctic tundra. Then again, how many sled dogs do you see wearing Luis Vuitton?
2. Develop a Pet Budget
The best time to set up a pet budget is before you buy or adopt, but it’s never too late to get on track with your spending. Work out a budget for the entire year and add up projected expenses — including exams and vaccinations, food, treats, toys, shelter and bedding, pet insurance, and accessories. You’ll probably be surprised at how much you’re spending annually. Having a budget will help curb unnecessary spending that adds up.
3. Do Your Own Grooming
It’s convenient to drop off your pet for grooming, but it will save a lot of money to do it at home. The key is to keep up with grooming on a regular basis so it doesn’t get out of hand. Search the internet for videos and posts that go into detail on how to clip nails, trim hair, shampoo and dry, and keep your pet well groomed.
4. Trade Pet Sitting Duties With a Friend Who Has Pets
When you’re traveling or on vacation, instead of paying a pet sitter, find a friend who also has pets and discuss trading pet sitting. As long as your friend has friendly, socialized animals or is willing to keep your pet in a separate area, this can save a lot of money for both of you. If you find a friend who’s willing to work with this arrangement, consider bringing your pets to each other in advance to determine whether they can be kept together or must be separated. It’s best if both you and your trading friend are well-versed in basic animal behavior to make the arrangement less stressful on the pets.
5. Make Toys Instead of Buying
Many animals love to play with ordinary household items and don’t require colorful, expensive toys. Who hasn’t witnessed a cat assuming ownership of a shoe box or a dog staying occupied for hours with a simple piece of rawhide. Use your creativity to provide makeshift toys that your pets will love. Just be careful that they are not dangerous. Bones are not a good idea for dogs, as they are known to choke on them. And cats (or dogs) should not be given any type of loose plastic. But you can easily create a cardboard or carpet sample scratching post.
6. Schedule Comprehensive Annual Check-Ups
In advance of your pet’s annual check-up, contact the veterinarian’s office and discuss any unusual issues to ensure you’ll have enough time to go over everything and get a full examination. Let them know you also want a teeth cleaning at this time. Good dental hygiene is important to prevent other physical problems as your pet ages. Make sure your pet also receives all vaccinations on schedule. There are many diseases a pet can contract, and the best way to save money on pet care is to prevent your pet from catching a common illness.
7. Invest in Quality Food
This is an issue that can create a lot of controversy. Some pet owners buy the cheapest food at the grocery store and assume it’s healthy. Just like people food, you may not want to feed your pet just anything on the shelf. Investigate the ingredients of any food given to your pet and determine if it’s cheap fillers or quality proteins. If you want your pet to have the longest, healthiest life possible — with the fewest health complications — buy them high-quality food. It might mean more money spent now, but it could reduce the possibility of your pet developing an expensive disease.
8. Keep Your Pet Active
To further ensure your pet is happy and healthy, don’t worry about spending money on a lot of toys… just spend time with your pet. They much prefer you to any squeeze toy or bouncing ball. Walk your dog on a daily basis so it has a chance to exercise its muscles. Spending time engaging your cat or other indoor pet in chasing or fetching games. It costs no money, but makes a huge difference in the animal’s quality of life.
9. Get Your Pet Neutered or Spayed
If you’re on a tight budget, the best way to save money on pet ownership is to make sure your pet is not able to reproduce. Having an unexpected litter of cats or dogs is a quick way to spend a lot of money. If you’re aching for kittens or puppies, the local animal shelter likely has hundreds of animals ready to be loved. Preventing reproduction is not only a way to save money, it’s the compassionate thing to do.
10. Buy Pet Insurance
Talk to your vet to find out if they can recommend pet insurance. It might seem like an unnecessary cost, but if your pet becomes ill or causes damage to someone’s property (or bites someone!), you could be liable for a pretty large bill. Shop around until you find a good policy that offers protection and peace of mind.
10. Train Your Pet at Home
There are thousands of videos and articles online to help you train your pet on your own. Instead of paying for pricey obedience schools, do some homework and set up a training schedule of your own. If your pet is extremely unruly, ask for help from friends who’ve had experience, check Craigslist or forums, or call your local animal shelter to recommend a low-cost pet trainer.
What are some other ways you suggest taking care of a pet without breaking the bank?