Save Money on Your Pets!

Daniella Cressman

Disclaimer: This information is accurate and true to the best of my knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Pets can provide you with a certain amount of solace when you are sad, they can be your playmate during rainy and sunny days alike, and they truly feel like best friends. Arguably, the emotional connection one fosters with a cat or a dog is priceless.

That being said, if you are financially strapped, the costs really do add up, surprising many.

"Though pet ownership has always been a financial commitment, it's especially true today. Average annual costs now range between $1,270 and $2,800 for dogs and between $960 to $2,400 for cats, according to a Synchrony Bank survey of pet owners. It’s an expense that often comes as a surprise to first-time owners: Some 45% of dog owners and 38% of cat owners said they underestimated the cost of caring for their pet. What’s more, pet products have seen the same sky-high inflation this year as other everyday consumer goods, up 9.7% from last year." —Kaitlin Mulhere

Thankfully, there are quite a few ways to be a savvy spender when it comes to tending for your pets!

1. BE INTENTIONAL ABOUT WHAT YOU SPEND YOUR HARD-EARNED CASH ON

Be intentional about your spending: dishing out a little more money for high-quality foods will likely lead to fewer veterinary visits. On the other hands, pets are usually more than content with the most basic of toys.

2. WEIGH THE PROS AND CONS OF PET INSURANCE BEFORE COMMITTING

"Pet insurance prices depend on location, breed and scope of coverage. But a typical policy costs $50 a month for dogs, on average, and nearly $30 a month for cats, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association. The most common pet insurance plans don’t cover preventative or routine care, like vaccinations or teeth cleaning. And you’ll have to spend enough money out-of-pocket to meet your deductible (typically about $500). After you hit that amount, you’ll still owe a percentage of the remaining costs (between 10% and 30%, depending on your coverage)." —Kaitlin Mulhere

While insurance can be nice to have, the costs could certainly add up, and it might be in your best interest to pay out-of-pocket unless your pet has a severe health condition.

"A 2021 Money analysis of pet insurance rates and veterinary expenses found the odds are low for collecting on insurance if your dog or cat has a 'normal' medical life. Even minor accident may not add up to enough to meet your annual deductible: According to a survey from the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend an average of $170 to $255 a year on vet visits for a surgery, sickness or emergency. For dogs, the averages range from $285 to $460. So insurance is most likely to pay off if your pet develops a serious illness or has a major accident." —Kaitlin Mulhere

3. ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN ABOUT A WELLNESS PLAN

Owning a pet is an enormous responsibility, and you'll want to make sure your furry friend is thriving. You can do this by asking your local veterinarian about a wellness plan so that you can take care of annual shots, dental cleanings, and more.

"Insurance in the pet world is reactive; it typically kicks in after there’s a health crisis. Lester says he’s an advocate for helping owners afford 'proactive health care' for their pets. That means staying on top of things like annual shots, check-ups and dental cleanings to help prevent the need for more expensive procedures down the line." —Kaitlin Mulhere

In short, signing up for a wellness plan can save you a lot of money.

"For $30 to $50 a month, depending on the plan, all your routine veterinary services will be covered. That includes vaccinations and preventative care, and often extends to things like nutrition counseling and dental care." —Kaitlin Mulhere

The caveat, of course, is that you really have to utilize every service offered on a regular basis to make the cost worth it, but that is arguably money well-spent towards your pet's health.

4. COMPARISON SHOP FOR PET MEDICATION

Just like human medication, pet medication is not standardized, meaning that you can often find lower pricing if you know where to look!

"Don’t take the first price you’re offered, either. After getting an estimate from your vet, look at specialty online retailers like 1-800-PetMeds, Discount Pet Medicines or PetCareRx." —Kaitlin Mulhere

5. LOOK FOR WAYS TO SAVE ON PET SERVICES

If you play your cards right, you can save money on nearly everything.

"Pet services like dog walking, dog daycare and pet sitting are popular with owners who work outside of the house for long periods of time. But that help comes at a steep price. Since dog walkers generally set their own rates, the costs can vary quite a lot. Your location and days of the week when you’re out of the house can also influence the price. But, in general, walks on apps like Rover and Wag start at about $20 and increase with longer walks. Pet sitting or boarding also varies widely, with an average around $30 to $40 a night. (Cats tend to be cheaper.) Sitters with a lot of experience can charge much more." —Kaitlin Mulhere

If you need to take your furry friend to doggy daycare, you can usually save by purchasing a package of days at a discount.

Pets are wonderful, but they can also be expensive.

It's important to understand the costs of care before committing financially and budget for each one.

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Canadian-American author writing about local politics, personal finance, & dining in Albuquerque.

Albuquerque, NM
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