Love Your Pet but Not the Cost? How to Reduce the Cost of Raising Your Best Friend

family petsHave you ever taken the time to calculate how much your furry or feathered friends are costing you each month? There is food, vet care, that regular application of flea and tick protection, grooming fees, litter or bedding, and of course toys, treats and equipment such as carriers, cages and the like.

Depending on where you live and how eco-friendly or upscale you want to go with food and supplies, expect to pay up to $1,500 for a cat and $2,000 for a dog during the first year. Rabbits, hamsters, birds and fish are somewhat less expensive. Let us take a look at some ways to reduce pet costs, not just during the first year of companionship but for the rest of your pet’s life.

We can start with the cost of the pet itself. The numbers quoted above don’t count in the amount you might pay to purchase your pet. If you want a pet from a breeder, you can expect to pay anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars, depending on the breed and the pedigree of the animal. In comparison, adoption fees from shelters or rescue agencies can be as little as $25, although the average is closer to $90 for a puppy or kitten and $65 for a dog or cat older than one year. Often you will be offered a discount if you choose to adopt more than one animal at a time.

Adoption makes financial sense for another reason. These animals are usually already spayed or neutered and are up to date on their shots, thus reducing your vet costs.

Medication can be another expense that is easily reduced. For over the counter medications and treatments, look for coupons, and sign up for offers and pet loyalty cards. When there is a special on your particular brand of medication, stock up.

For prescription medication, consider not purchasing it from the vet. Did you know that you can you can fill prescriptions for pet medication at your own regular pharmacy? Often you will save $10 or more each time by doing this. Also, ask if a generic version is available. You could save hundreds on the price a medication when you substitute a name brand for a generic version.

Consider bartering for pet-related services, such as pet grooming. Figure out what you have to offer in return and then just ask! For dog and cat sitting when you are out of town, offer to reciprocate for a friend or neighbor. This way you both can save while knowing that your pet is in good hands when you aren’t around.

You can save on food, litter and bedding supplies when you purchase them in bulk. Canned food lasts for a long time, so if you have the space, ask your store if you can purchase a case or two. Often, the manager will discount the cost and credit you money as “stocking fee discount.” Warehouse grocery stores also carry discounts on bulk pet supplies.