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It’s been reported that Americans spent in excess of $50 billion on their pets in 2011. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates it costs about $1,600 annually to care for a dog and a little over $1,000 to care for a cat. Responsible pet ownership comes with a price and for many it’s a small price to pay for the love we receive from our pets.
The pet industry is booming as dog and cat owners – especially those empty-nesters – spend even more to pamper their pooches. From spa treatments to grooming to specialty foods and top-of-the line medical care, pets are being treated even more as beloved members of the family on whom no expense is spared. Regardless of the amount of love you have for your pet, you may be wondering how you can save money while still pampering your dog, cat, reptile or guinea pig.
- Become a Do-it-Yourselfer. Depending on the type of dog you have, you may be able to save money by grooming her at home or taking her to a self-grooming salon rather than taking her to the expensive doggy salon. If your dog is one of the breeds that needs regular hair cuts in addition to a bath, you may still need to take her to a groomer, but see if you can extend the time between visits. Other ways to save on pet care costs are to become diligent in brushing your dog (or cat’s) teeth as this can cut down on vet dental bills later. Learn to clip your pet’s nails and clean their ears at home. If you’re taking your dog to a groomer ask for the basics – truly does she need a doggy facial or scented shampoo? Not likely.
- Don’t Overfeed your Pet. It’s no surprise that even as we humans overeat, chances are our pets are getting over fed as well. Read the labels on the pet food and feed your pet according to the recommendations. You will save money if you’re feeding according to the directions.
- Veterinary Bills. Make certain your pet is getting his or her required vaccinations. Missing vaccinations can lead to costly health problems later. Most importantly, talk to your vet about what is right for your pet.
- Compare Prices and Clip Coupons. Spend some time comparison shopping for the food your pet eats, the toys he plays with and the vet services you have performed. Make some phone calls, surf the internet and visit various stores to compare the prices. Some online pet stores offer perks such as free pet food delivery (without marking up the prices) which can be a big saver.
- Cut Back on the Extras. Does Fluffy or Fido really need a new sweater or a Sunday dress? Probably not. In some areas of the country though having your pet don a jacket to keep the chill away isn’t a bad idea, but when your pet’s wardrobe rivals your own, you may need to look at the sometimes-frivolous objects you’re purchasing.
Having a line item in your budget for pet expenses is just as important as budgeting for your other household items and family spending. Knowing what you have set aside for monthly pet care makes you more cognizant of how much you’re spending. And heeding the advice above can help you reduce those expenses.