How to Be a Great Pet Parent on a Budget
Even if you're on a budget, you can still be a purrrfectly great pet parent. But it's not always easy. Over the course of 10 to 11 years, the cost of owning a dog can range from about $11,000 up to $30,000. The cost of owning a cat is typically a little less than that — but still pricy.
If that sounds like more than you bargained (or budgeted for) for, don't worry. You can keep your pet parenting costs down with just a little creativity, without sacrificing health or fun.
Focus on Preventative Care
Preventative care may require an up-front investment, but it can save you a lot of money in the long run by preventing disease and catching illnesses early. Monthly heartworm treatment, for example, may cost $5 to $15, but treating heartworm disease in dogs can cost thousands. (And for cats, it's not treatable at all.) So don't skimp on regular checkups and vaccinations.
Want to save even more? Many shelters offer low-cost vaccinations, spays, and neuters. And don't forget to ask your vet about pet insurance. Some types of insurance can save you money in the long run.
Shop Around for Medicine
Don't be scared to shop around for your pet's prescriptions. Flea medicine, for example, may be less expensive at a big box store instead of a vet's office. And sometimes medicine costs less if you use your vet's prescription to order it online. Before doing so, however, make sure the medication is just as good as the stuff you'd get from the vet. Even identical-looking products sold online from other countries may meet different standards.
Keep Your Pets Hydrated
Many expensive health issues can crop up simply because your pet is dehydrated. Keep plenty of water bowls around in easy-to-access places for your pet. If you take your dog outside to play, bring water with you. For cats, feed wet food or add a little water to their dry food, and consider a small water fountain bowl.
Overweight pets are more likely to develop expensive health issues as they get older. So make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise! Take your dog for walks every day. Get out a feather wand and make sure your cat jumps and chases you around daily. Even a little exercise can make a big difference.
Buy in Bulk
The cheapest food may not be the best for your pet. Instead, buy higher quality food in bulk to save money. You can even buy your cat's litter in bulk to keep costs a little lower.
Brush Your Pet's Teeth
Getting your pet's teeth cleaned at the vet can be really costly. Start brushing your pet's teeth when they're still a puppy or a kitten, so they get used to the feeling. You can also get dental treats that can help keep their teeth healthy. Try Milk-Bone® Brushing Chews® or Meow Mix® Brushing Bites®.
Play Games & Reuse Toys
You don't need to constantly buy new toys to keep your pets happy. What your pet really wants is YOU. So invest your time rather than your money. Chase your dog in the backyard or turn on the sprinkler for her to play in. Teach your cat new tricks or use a "red dot" pointer to entertain him. And instead of buying new toys, put some away for a while. When you bring them back out, they'll feel new to your pet.
Brush Your Pet Regularly
A professional groomer is a luxury you can't always afford on a budget. But you need to keep your pet's hair smooth to prevent matting. So make it a habit to brush your dog or cat daily. Not only will this keep your pet healthier, but it will build your bond.
Your pet wants you, not a lot of expensive toys and luxuries. With a little creativity, you can keep your pet healthy and happy without breaking the bank. Do you have any other ideas for keeping costs low? Share them with us in the comments.
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