National Pet Month is on its last legs here on the 20th day of May. It’s a thirty-day stint dedicated to promoting responsible pet ownership, and a way to raise awareness of the role, value and contribution of service animals to society. Unfortunately, that role is often wrought with high costs—whether it’s nutrition, preventative care or toys. In 2011, pet owners spent $55 billion on their beloved little multi-legged beasts. Dog owners alone spend an average $101 a month. Considering this, it’s beneficial to share a few ways everyday folks like you and me can save on pet expenses. Like an eager Beagle finding lost treasure for your savings pleasure, here’s what I was able to dig up:
How to Save Money on Pet Expenses
When purchasing pet medications, try to avoid the vet next time. Two-thirds of pet owners buy meds from the people who prescribe them. While it’s worth it to obtain a diagnosis you can trust, it’s also worth it to visit stores that offer blanket prescription fills for both humans and animals. “Prescription Savings Clubs” exist in stores such as Kroger, Target and Walgreens, and they sell generics at considerably lesser prices than vets. As is common knowledge, generics are basically the real thing with different packaging. So this presents a cost-effective alternative to dropping hundreds on brand-name meds from your vet.
Is pet insurance worth it? Like any insurance, pet insurance will save you from large and unplanned expenses you’d have to make in the event your pet becomes sick or injured. Veterinary care is expensive, and pet insurance offers coverage, peace of mind and possible discounts. Healthy Paws, the preeminent leader in pet insurance, offers plans for as low as $30 a month. You could also look at it this way: pets are family members (some would say favorite family members), and pet insurance is an investment in love. It just depends on where you are financially, and—in the most macabrely realistic terms possible—whether your pet deserves it. As an alternative, you could set up a pet savings account. It is cheaper, and it doesn’t bring the gamble of paying monthly rates that may never pay off.
On veterinary visits, bring your pet the first thing in the morning. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. You should always bring your pet in first thing in the morning because it lowers the likelihood that your pet will have to stay overnight, forcing you to pay for boarding.
Don’t overfeed your pet. It’s sometimes difficult to ration properly, especially when you have more than one pet. But overfeeding can lead to health problems which can drain money from your wallet. Obviously, it also wastes money on superfluous food expenses. But there is a difference between overfeeding and overstocking, and you should always buy pet food in bulk because bigger packages tend to be cheaper over the long run.
Shop around for a veterinarian. It might not always be the best option for you to go to the vet who is closest to you. Veterinarians don’t always charge the same. Meet with at least three when you have a new pet. Do research on your pet’s breed to see what he or she is susceptible to. Once this information is obtained, you will know what medical professional is suited best to your particular case and which rates are best suited to your budget.
Best Deals on Pet Stuff
PetSmart Coupon: 20% off orders of $60 or more.
Petco Coupon: 10% off and free shipping on orders of $49.