Ask the Readers: How Do You Care For Your Pet Affordably?

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  • Comment #24 pet care and saving money Submitted by Guest on March 2, 2010 - 14:48.  I believe their is a big nutritional diffference between some of the commercial pet foods and the premium and or organic based foods. These foods over the long run will keep our pets healthier. The big benefit is that optimum nutrition excels at keeping pets out of the vet's office. Add in a few extra vet visits a year and your pet care budget is certainly exceeded. The bottom line is that by spending a bit more up front you can save costly vet bills.
  • rbaech to keep pet bills low, I have pet insurance. I've seen families have to pay out thousands for sick pets - if they can :(. #WBAsk

We've been talking about pets quite a bit here on Wise Bread: what to feed them, how to treat them affordably, their health and their well-being. We all love our pets, and sometimes, it's hard to justify spending an insane amount of money on them -- especially in this economy.

What are you doing to treat your pet, despite tight funds? Do you opt for homemade options? Are you buying the most affordable brands? Or has there been no change in what you've been doing for your furry (or feathered) friend?

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Andrea Karim's picture

Linsey, that picture is NOT fair. I think my knees gave way underneath me.

Guest's picture

My local pet store has crazy sales...I frequent them and watch the unit prices! (PS. I have guinea pigs.) I watch Craigslist too - sometimes local farmers have timothy hay, which the little wiglets like, and they'll give it to you for MUCH better prices!

Guest's picture

One of my cats has special food that he needs. I buy it online through PetFoodDirect as they are about half as much as the vet wanted to charge me for the food. I always buy everything else with a coupon, and for their dry food, I will use a coupon plus wait until PetSmart has it on sale. I buy store brand litter that I'm pretty sure is the same stuff as the national brand has. I get them treats from time to time, and also wait until they are on sale and there are always Buy One Get One Free or 50 cents off (which I double) coupons in the paper, making these at least 60-70% off the regular price.

Guest's picture
Briana Sanford

My husband and I have 2 cats and a 16 month old puppy, who just happens to need surgery. In order to keep our costs down, we shop sales, buy their food at Costco, order from, and shop at a locally owned feed store that has great prices.

Guest's picture

i have two cats, and while i don't use World's Best litter (i'm not a fan of its lack of stink control), i DO feed them Blue Buffalo Wilderness, which is arguably one of the best foods out there. we'll be doing the same when we get a dog. i absolutely refuse to buy crap food (Hill's, etc) when it leads to bad health.

Guest's picture

I just buy the best quality dog food available. And give supplements. The treats I give them are veggie pieces when I'm preparing my dinner (rather than store bought pet treats). I also take them on walks, and play frisbee or ball at the park (good exercise for them and me). Through exercise and good food, prevention is key.

Guest's picture

Pets are like family members... And if I can eat well, my pet should eat well... I do a mix of dry Merrick's and i buy meats that go on sale or get discounted and cook it for him... its a lot cheaper than canned food, AND you know the meat is USDA meat that you would eat...

Guest's picture

We bought health insurance for our dog because it turns out I am willing to spend too much money on her. (Old dog had two knee surgeries, not life threatening and greatly improved quality of life). It costs about $100 a year and only covers major medical expenses. We also try to do the things for her that we do for ourselves: preventative care, healthy food, and lots of exercise.

Guest's picture

R, if you don't mind my asking, what insurance do you have for your dog? I'm looking for some for my puppy, and $100/year is much less than anything I've found so far!

Guest's picture

Luckily, our two cats have been very healthy. We buy their litter at Sam's and feed them Iam's. They go visit the vet once a year, and that's about it. If any major issues came up with their health, I would probably shop around some.

Guest's picture

In addition to buying dog food in bulk, I've been giving my dogs the same treats that we eat at home - Cheerios, fresh fruit (apples, pears, blueberries) and vegetables (green beans, carrots, broccoli). Many store bought treats are extremely over-priced and have additives like garlic that could be harmful to your dogs, so it's much simpler and cheaper to treat them with things I eat as well.

I've also learned to do all their grooming at home. I purchased a cheap set of clippers for haircuts, and use diluted Dove Go Fresh human shampoo at bath time, which is ok for single-coated dogs and much more affordable than dog shampoos. I trim their nails and pluck their ears, as well - this alone saves about $45/month, as the vet charges $15 to do this and I have 3 dogs at the moment.

As with anything else, having a dog doesn't need to be expensive. My 3 small dogs probably only eat about $20-30 worth of dog food a month, and I only buy shampoo twice a year. A little bit of research and training go a long way towards making pets affordable.

Guest's picture

I wouldn't feed my dog Cheerios - dog digestive tracts cannot process corn, soy or wheat, and Cheerios has whole bran, corn starch, oat bran, oat fiber and wheat starch (read the label). For the same reason that doggie treats are doggie junk food.

Guest's picture

My parents save by taking their dog to a vet who mostly cares for farm animals. He recommends what is needed for his health, but omits a lot of extras.

Guest's picture

After doing some research and finding out that rawhide bones are not good for dogs (apparently they can choke on them), I decided to try to find a way to satisfy my dog's craving for chewing. I found out that nylabones are the best store option because they are very durable and can last for a long time while being safe for dogs. Problem is that they are about $8 per bone. Most people online said that all natural bones are the best way to go. If you have a friend that is a hunter, the dogs will LOVE the bones from the deer, and they are safe. I live right next to Auburn University where we have a meat laboratory that sells eggs, meat, etc. They also sell natural bones from cattle and pigs for $1. My dog goes to town for about an hour each bone. If you go to your local butcher, they most likely have bones that they don't need and will either give to you or sell for cheap. Your dog will thank you.

Guest's picture

Last year we gave our family beagle the ham bone from Christmas dinner, 2 days later she was extremely sick. Turns out she had chewed down the bone so much tiny shards got into her kidneys and shut them down. We had to have her put to sleep the day after New Years. Not saying you shouldn't give your dogs bones, just check with your Vet for the right kind.

Guest's picture

Thanks for the guinea pig ideas, Heather- ours have been way expensive! We also have a dog who would think all of your dogs that eat veggies are crazy! She does love any leftover meat pieces, though. Mostly I save on her favorites by matching coupons with sales. Now, though, the vet is saying she needs glucosamine for joint problems. Anybody with ideas on how to save on this supplement?

Guest's picture
Linda Lambert

My dog took the store brand of Centrum Silver, buy one get one free, people glucosamine is the same as dog glucosamine, so before my dog was older - I did this, then the Centrum Sliver store brand, checked this out with two vets they said your right -it does have everything a dog could need!

Guest's picture

I am a former dog groomer and I would like to pass along a few tips that can help you save money by reducing or eliminating trips to the groomer and vet.
Don't fall for the teeth brushing thing, and don't pay your groomer extra for this service. Some people do use it, but most people will find it a waste of time and money. If your dog does have plaque, no amount of teeth brushing is going to remove it. See your vet. Getting plaque removed before it turns into an infection is a lot cheaper.
If you have a dog that has hair that needs to be cut, brush your dog every day. This eliminates knots and matting and can increase the time needed between haircuts. A great winter trick; hair knots are often caused by static electricity, a very common symptom of dry air. Every day wipe down your dog with a dryer sheet. They are non-toxic (but double check the brand you use to be sure) and your dog will also smell great. You can also use an anti-static spray on a brush and then brush it into your dogs coat. You'll notice less knots and tangles right away.
If you have a dog that sheds and never needs a haircut, get a Furminator which are now available almost everywhere. Nothing else works as well - don't even waste your money trying anything else. You will cut down on shedding tremendously.
Clean your dog's ears at least weekly with a cotton ball and either Hydrogen Peroxide or better yet something commercially available. Never use water! Clean ears prevent ear infections which could save you a trip to the vet.
Don't buy doggy shampoo - the stuff is a rip off. Baby shampoo is great for dogs and won't irritate their skin or eyes.
If you do everything above your only concern will be nail clipping. Look for a cheap 'walk-in' service for nail cutting and avoid the full grooming until its needed.

Guest's picture

I have to take into account that my dog has a sensitive stomach, so this CAN bring food prices up. Because of this, I buy as big of a bag as I can to save per oz. and buy early in case I need to move her from one food to another. I buy pet meds online and re-up my Rx with a trusted vet who does not insist on a check up to prescribe heartworm meds.
Lastly, just as with the human members of the family, we try to keep reserve funds around for medical emergencies so that an unexpected vet visit will not put us in a credit pinch.

Guest's picture

I feed my dogs one the very highest rated DRY dog foods on the market--Kirkland Signature at Costco. Take a peek and evaluate the dry dog food yourself abd you will also see what a terrific dog food it is. I DO NOT feed them treats of ANY KIND because they are basically JUNK food for animals. I do not feed them ANYTHING other than DRY DOG FOOD--PERIOD. I do not let my animals WHO ARE ALL WELL---around other animals that I know nothing about such as dog parks etc. Dogs will walk & sniff just like kids then lick their paws ---real quick transmit for worms. I also seek out AFFORDABLE places for shots. Shots are extremely cheap--YOU are paying for the VETS car. Community areas (I live in Cleveland,OH) run SHOT clinics all the time for pets--I paid yearly ---all shots PLUS heartworm testing for one dog---37.00. I also give Heartworm Pills for all---Pet Shed (look on the web--the generic heart for flea control. DO NOT INTRODUCE your pet to others will see an illness. PREVENTIVE is the key with animals!

BY THE WAY---I HAVE 14 RESCUE ANIMALS---4 CATS FROM HURRICANE KATRINA--3 PIT BULLS NO ONE WANTED FROM KATRINA--7 others that no one wanted or were mistreated by mean humans. All the dogs are between 80 and 100 pounds EACH.They ALL get along and are presently sleeping in various places INSIDE my house. They are not outside animals except for going to the restroom (I pick up all their waste daily--even in the snow). Litter boxes cleaned daily....kitty litter is high grade MIXED with lower grade--

I LOVE all my animals dearly. My surgeon got rid of my cancer but my pets helped my soul through the rest. I have three kids & a loving husband but throughout the cancer treatment & surgeries they (people) had to go about their own lives (as expected) BUT ALL MY ANIMALS were there day & night right by my side---with kisses, love & kindness---unconditionally. I will always be eternally grateful for all 14 of them for that dedicated love & devotion.

Guest's picture

I also have guinea pigs. I do buy nice hay and pellets online (shipping is killer) but they have lived long, fairly healthy lives as a result. I will have had them for 7 years this May.

A couple things that help: their cage was cheap, made of those wire grid storage cubes and some corrugated plastic. It's big enough to give them plenty of space.

My friend works with horses, so she brings me hay in season. That's a huge help because the guinea pigs need lots of hay.

I ration pellets, which is good because they are expensive and not terribly healthy for the little guys.

The big one, and this is one I've learned better in the past year: I feed them my veggie scraps. Why peel a carrot over the trash can when I can peel it right over their cage? I treat them as furry little composters, within reason of course. I'm joining a CSA this year and I have a feeling they will get lots of leftover salad greens and vegetable odds and ends. They love apple cores and watermelon rinds!

One of my animals has had significant medical issues. He's cost me over $1000 in the time I've had him, but it's worth it. For vet costs, I say plan for when they will happen, not if. My sister is planning on getting a pet when she moves out and I warned her that it is better to be ready for something to happen.

Guest's picture

I feed my cat one of the best kitty foods out there, WellCore and I use the World's Best Cat Litter.. I think to prevent future health problems for the ones you love, you have to give them the best there is to offer.

Guest's picture

I use discounted PetCo gift cards from in combination with coupons and sales for things like food and flea medicine.

I have also found the cheapest vet in the area who just happens to be one of the best too. They don't take appointments, but its worth it for the care and the price!

Guest's picture

I buy PetSmart's store brand cat food for my cat. If you look at the ingredient list, the first one is fish! That's so much better than other brands of cheap cat food, which are full of corn and wheat that cats can't digest. I also use the PetSmart shopping card to get deals on toys and treats.

Guest's picture

My husband and I treat our cats as our children. While we haven't made any big changes in our care-taking routines for them, we do make sure that we have what is necessary to provide for them.

We have been able to find coupons for their food and kitty litter brands to shave just a few dollars off each purchase. My husband clips their claws, and we groom them about once a week (we just got a Furminator - amazing grooming tool!). We take them to our vet annually, and our vet's office often has promotions that allow us to take a small percentage off the overall visit. We also budget for our pet expenses and keep a little emergency fund just for them. Our kitties are happy and healthy, which makes us happy.

Guest's picture

Since my dog, Andy, has allergies (unknown cause), I try to mitigate his symptoms by feeding him organic raw dog food which comes in a frozen bag. The cost is worth every penny. The only treats he gets are raw organic veggies which he loves. I knew poodles were high maintenance dogs, so his grooming bills are high, but I brush him twice a day and stretch his appointments to every seven weeks which helps keep the cost down a bit.
Through trial and error, my holistic vet and I have found supplements that help with his scratching. Instead of using the vet when ordering these supplements, I have ordered them through PetMeds or get them at Petco; this has helped save a lot of money over the last two years.

Guest's picture

I believe their is a big nutritional diffference between some of the commercial pet foods and the premium and or organic based foods. These foods over the long run will keep our pets healthier. The big benefit is that optimum nutrition excels at keeping pets out of the vet's office. Add in a few extra vet visits a year and your pet care budget is certainly exceeded. The bottom line is that by spending a bit more up front you can save costly vet bills.

Guest's picture

The best thing my husband and I ever did for our first dog was to set up a savings account for him. I looked into pet insurance, but ultimately decided against it - he was older and the premiums were high.

So we started to put 20 bucks a week in an ING Account automatically. We used this money for his regular check ups and for emergencies. If it didn't completely cover the bill, it came close. We now have three dogs of varying ages, and their care is more than covered by what we've built in the "Dog" account.

Preventative care, a steady diet and lots of attention are all they really need. Expensive toys? Not really needed - they'd rather play with you. I have to remind myself sometimes, since I'm a sucker for packaging, that most of that stuff is made for the pet owner, not the pet.

Guest's picture

I have a smooth coat chihuahua and her grooming is low maintenance. I trim her nails and bathe her myself. I use coupons for her food and treats. I mosly give her baby carrots as a treat. I walk her around my apt. complex for exercise - good for me too. I give her heartguard and K9 Advantix to keep fleas off. She only goes to the vet once a year. I just budget for the vet visit and her meds. She is small and doesn't require much food. She is very healthy and happy. Her weight is just right. I also shop at Petsmart when they have sales that will go with my coupons.

Guest's picture

We're almost ready to bid on a house, and we'll be finally be able to feel like we can give a home to a cat and a dog or two. So we're happy to see all these tips, as neither of us has had a pet in a very long time.

We definitely expect to treat any pet with the high quality food, to echo #24's comment.

Guest's picture

The only way I've found to save money is by making the dogs scooby snacks myself (I make the peanut butter puppy poppers using no salt pb from Trader Joes).

I have 2 cats that need medication twice daily and to get them to take it I make my own version of a pill pocket by blending a can of tuna fish, dry milk and a bit of oil. The cats come running when I call 'time for your medicine!'.

Guest's picture

I've got two cats. I look for coupons for food and litter and buy in bulk when I can get a good deal.
One cat will only eat cat food and the other gets treats of bits of meat leftover from my meals.
Their toys are the plastic rings that come off of milk jugs (they love them), old shoe laces and a few balls made of old socks stuffed with old pillow stuffing and catnip and sewed shut. They're more than happy with those and it's all free stuff.

Guest's picture
Linda Lambert

If your cat only eats people food - make sure it has taurine (ask your vet about this, cats need it or they will go blind) there was a time when a cat would eat an entire mouse and get this nutrient, its not in people food but in cat food>

Guest's picture

My husband and I have five cats that are our children. We'd spare no expense for their care and wellbeing, but are still mindful of ways in which we can save on their upkeep without sacrificing the quality of care.

-- Until recently, our local warehouse club sold large bags of the dry pet food we prefer to feed them. Although they have stopped carrying it there, we can still stock up on the same brand of canned cat foot, and litter, at a significant discount.

-- With five cats, we have to be diligent about litterboxes. We found that litterpan liners were a waste -- the cats would scratch through them anyway (making them difficult to remove without also making a mess) and simply scrubbing out the boxes on a regular basis both keeps them clean and eliminates the need for liners.

-- Clumping litter not only makes for more efficient use, but results in a much cleaner-smelling litterbox, as well.

-- Having the cats on a staggered vet schedule lets us keep up with their annual visits without having one huge annual cost. Spreading it out over a few months means less stress on our wallets, especially if one of them needs special care.

-- Our vet offers three-year rabies vaccines, which is more cost effective than having them renew it every single year.

-- By volunteering as foster parents for local rescues, when we decided to keep one of our foster cats, they covered the entire cost of having him fixed and inoculated.

-- Another local rescue offers discounted spay and neutering, FAR below the cost of going to a regular vet. We always recommend them to other cat owners who have been balking at the cost. It's less expensive to them, and it means fewer kittens end up in the system later on.

-- Keeping your cats indoors all time time means is not only what's best for your pet, but it means less (or no) flea-and-tick control, and all-around healthier animals.

-- Buy a $5 clipper and learn how to clip your cat's claws. They'll accept it as routine, your furniture will be spared, and you won't have to put out money for a declawing procedure that's expensive, unnecessary and detrimental to your cat's long-term health.

-- There are a million recipes for dog treats online, made with simple ingredients that you have at home, or can buy inexpensively. At Christmas I make batches of treats with shredded cheddar cheese, beef bullion, whole wheat flour and peanut butter. Dogs LOVE them, the ingredients are all-natural (you can even go organic, if you want) and you can roll them or cut them to a size that is perfect for your dog.

Guest's picture

As my subject line indicates, I have three ferrets in my household. Ferrets are notorious for having many expensive health problems and I've had one already that cost me alot of money. If anything, I spend more money on them. I believe making sure they eat a high quality food is the most important step in keeping them healthy. Spending more money now on high quality food will hopefully save me money down the road by avoiding some of the major health problems they get. It's an investment but when I got pets, I knew it would be a struggle sometimes and I know I'll always do everything I can for what's in their best interest. I guess the one thing I do now is make a big effort to find coupons and deals for food and toys for them.

Guest's picture

We buy our dogs' food & treats at Trader Joes, as their stuff is pretty high quality and well priced. I like to buy toys at the post-Christmas sales at Petco - the dogs don't care if their toys are all red and green! :D They do need to be groomed occasionally, but in between we use the self-serve pet wash which is pretty inexpensive. For vet care we count on spending a couple hundred a year on preventive care, and I definitely favor keeping a savings account for emergencies and extra stuff - for example our girl needs a tooth extracted and that's pricey.

Pets are a bargain. In addition to being a joy all on their own, having them helps keep our entertainment, health, and fitness costs down. :)

Guest's picture
Linda Lambert

With 6 cats and 2 dogs life could be expensive! One of the main ways of saving money is to have indoor cats, no fights, not being hit by cars...they play with each other and best of all no yearly vaccinations or flea medication! The dogs had their puppy shots and first year shots but we do over vaccinate our pets, some people titer test to make sure the vaccination is still active but like our measles and rubella its only needed once (that's why pet insurance is a waste, they insist on yearly vaccinations and my cats live into their twenties) My vet also agrees with me (accept for rabies which is legally required for a dog license)My dogs get flea meds and never bring them to the cats,plus heart worm (bought on Ebay or on sale at an internet store) they are checked for and medicated for every year. Friends of Animals also supply low cost spay and neuter certificates, they can mail them to your house for $60.00 you can get a $300 operation!
Coupons for food and litter, lots of exercise at a leash free park and training, if your dog gets into a fight more big $$$$, but a local library can teach you with books or CD's or watch the Dog whisperer! I also cook bargain chicken in my crock pot,no bones but the meat just slides off, or mix in leftovers with their regular food, and when I switch foods, I do it slowly to avoid stomach upset. Benefits are unconditional love, low blood pressure, good exercise for me and my own really good burglar alarm, 100 lb. German Shepherd and 37 lb. mixed breed rescue! They also put out great heat in the winter, dogs and cats...our own bed warmers!

Guest's picture
Jess y

We just got a new puppy this week. Our first dog died last year. After nearly 15 years of pet ownership, I just had an "aha" moment. I don't need to buy pet treats. Chunks of cheese, pieces of carrot, left over bits o' meat. We are training the pup, and that requires lots of incentive (treats.) Don't need to spend $3.50 for a small bag of whoknowswhat for the dog. Duh!

Guest's picture

I don't cut corners when it comes to my pets, and so far, that's benefited me because I haven't had any major medical expenses or vet visits for them. Granted, I will check for sales and coupons on food, treats, etc., but I don't get anything less than the best because sometimes saving a little in the short run can cause huge losses later. Keeping them healthy is the best way to keep the vet away (of course, I still make sure that they get the proper shots and such).

Guest's picture

I do two things: I give my dogs their shots -- available for purchase at farm supply stores and easy to administer as they are given subcutaneously. I can get all the shots except rabies, and for those, I look for clinics that our county sponsors when practical (if not we go to the vet, costs more, but obviously, important to stay up-to-date). For heartworm prevention rather than prescription products I use OTC cow wormer (liquid, also available from farm supply stores) that contains ivermectin. I just administer the same dose (orally) as heartguard would contain (my vet approves). This costs about $30 for two years for my 2 large dogs, versus $72 for 6 months for heartguard through the vet.

We basically don't go to the vet unless my dogs are sick (as I can manage the routine stuff myself, through the above). No doubt that will horrify some posters here, but to date, my dogs have thrived.

Guest's picture
Sara A

Don't buy lots of toys and treats. Kitties are just as happy with an old ribbon or a tennis ball from Goodwill. Also, look for low cost options for vaccinations. There are always specials going on here, and year round nonprofits that offer discount wellness visits.

Guest's picture

I keep my costs down by making toys for my pup. I've sewn covers around plastic bottles which make a fun crinkly noise for her to chase around. I also sometimes just put peanut butter inside a bottle for her to chase around and lick out. When it's hot out, I freeze a dish towel for her to chew on and keep cool.

Guest's picture

We have our pets 'insured' with Banfield Pet Hospital (usually always found in PetSmart). I pay $20 a month for one dog and $27 for the other. The plan includes all office visits and 2 routine check ups a year. By paying throughout the year, I don't have that huge, unexpected vet bill when I need to board the dogs and have to go get their shots. It is a wellness plan, though... and a few things to note: coverage is only AT Banfield... I can't go to any other vets with the plan unless they work at a Banfield. Also, it's a wellness plan, if there's an accident whatever they need won't be covered (i.e. hit by a car).

Guest's picture

Wow, I just wrote about this very subject today. My elderly diabetic dog has become very expensive. We buy groceries for her before we take care of ourselves. She eats a lot of chicken and steamed vegetables for dinner and oatmeal in the morning. Sometimes she has steak or fresh fish. It's the least I can do for her after all she has done for my family. :)

Guest's picture

We keep our pet healthy by feeding him only food that is good for him, keeping his shots current and making sure he gets enough exercise. This way we don't have to spend a lot on sick visit vet bills.

Guest's picture

I have five dogs and three cats. I HAVE to cut corners. My animals eat Purina products and I take them to our local animal shelter for their shots - at unbelievably low prices.

By the way, my animals seem to live FOREVER. I have a Beagle that's at LEAST 19 (road rescue)and my German Shepherd died at the ripe old age of 18.

You don't need to spend a fortune to get good value.

Guest's picture

I have cats right now and they get both dry and wet food. All natural(Nutro, 20 a bag), one of them cannot handle anything with any dyes in them (Poop City!!) And we definitely spoil them with toys. So yeah we spend a good amount on them. I do try and hit sales every chance I can get though!
Petco does offer clinics for vaccinations/shots for a good price. Also micro-chipping!

Guest's picture

"Now, though, the vet is saying she needs glucosamine for joint problems. Anybody with ideas on how to save on this supplement?"

In one word: Walmart

Guest's picture

I have 2 dogs and 5 cats. Too many, but I can't say "no" when a homeless kitten stares me in the face! For the kitties, the best toy I ever got was an inexpensive laser pointer. After I go to bed, I shine the laser pointer around the room, and first there's one, then two, then three, sometimes five kitties chasing it around like maniacs!
For the dogs, I mix one large tub regular yogurt, 1 cup pnut butter, and 2 ripe bananas (without their skins of course) in the blender or food processor. Give it all a whirl, and then pour into about 18 dixie cups and freeze. My dogs love them!

Guest's picture

i am frugal in many ways (second hand furniture, thrift shopping for clothes, home cooking instead of eating out) but my dog's health and wellbeing are *not* something i am frugal with. she eats high quality food (innova) which is expensive, and we go to the best vet practice in chicago (also expensive) but when i adopted her i committed to take care of her, so those expenses are more than worth it, she is so healthy. she doesn't get store bought snacks, just bits of apple or carrot (which she loves). she is as happy with a paper grocery bag to destroy as she would be an expensive toy. mostly she needs love and attention, which are free. if you have a pet, their health is your responsibility -i think you can skimp on toys if you need to (because lets face it playing with people is the most fun anyway as far as they are concerned), but i don't think you should skimp on their well-being. there are SO many ways to be frugal in our daily lives (cutting out luxuries), adequate vet care is a *need* not a luxury, and should not be an area one skimps on. just imho

Guest's picture

He goes to a vet that handles a lot of farm animals and she is pretty reasonable. Food is not that large of an expense. Doggie bones buy them on sale.

Guest's picture

I have found Amazon is the cheapest for flea treatments such as Frontline. We also buy glucosamine at Costco.

Guest's picture

I buy my dog's dry food at Sam's (Beef and More), Frontline at Costco, and for his teeth,I give him oxtails as a once or twice weekly treat. I take him to one of the best vet's in our area. He's not just a dog to me, he's my 10 year old baby. I'd do anything humanly possible for him.

Guest's picture

My dogs have always eaten cheapo food. The way that I'm treating them is that I'm spending a lot more time with them now. Unemployment will do that.

Guest's picture

Mostly I just keep a lookout on things that will make my dogs happier and healthier that won't cost me more money.

My dogs sleep on memory foam beds because I bought a memory foam topper for my bed in a king size (my bed is a queen and there was no price difference for the larger size) and trimmed the extra to create new orthopedic inserts for their beds.

I buy lots of bone-in meats so that I can trim the fat and cut out the bones to set aside for dog treats (go easy on the fat, dogs don't benefit anymore from a high-fat diet than humans do). You can cook this with additional foods like veggies to make it more nutritious.

For grooming, baby shampoo is literally the best you can get for your dog. It's gentle on their skin, tear-free and they smell fantastic (it's also very cheap if you go for generics). Brushing also goes a long, long way. You can save a lot on grooming costs if you learn how to cut/file their nails, clean their ears and brush them thoroughly everyday.

Vitamins, the ridiculously expensive "necessity" that pet stores love for you to buy. By all means browse these aisle, especially if you brought a pen and pad with you. Write down dosage information and ingredients for your favorite doggie vitamin. Then, head over to your local drugstore and buy the main ingredient there! Just make sure to be very careful with the dosage. When I found out the most important ingredient in healthy skin and coat vitamins was just Omega 3, I ditched my $20 bottle for a $3 bottle of fish oil "treats" from Sam's Club!

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We have two lab mixes and one old cat. We haven't changed much since the economic downturn. We give our dogs and cat really good packaged food. We exercise the dogs as often as we can and on occasion we buy treats, when there is a deal.
Our dogs love apple cores and watermelon rinds. They will eat most veg/fruits. We are careful to make sure it won't hurt them(no grapes, no onions, etc.). Our dogs also love popcorn from the hot air popper and of course what hits the floor is theirs. My wife makes organic treats for our dogs and they love them. Making our own treats cost pennies when compared to store bought treats.
While we do take our pets to the vet for regular checkups and shots we save money by having healthy pets. Whats true for humans is true for our pets, an oz. of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When appropriate, we use human otc drugs as they tend to be cheaper by 50% or more than what we can get at the vet. We also use the internet to find the best deals on flea/tick and other animal specific drugs and our vet will match the deal. Next time you need everyday meds just ask you vets office if they will match the internet price.

One way to save money on a trip to the vet is caned pumpkin. Whenever our dogs are having digestive issues like vomiting, diarrhea, or even some spotty blood in their stool(usually due to eating a pork bone). Pumpkin spoon fed to your dog really works wonders for an illness that will only last a meal or two. A bland diet of cooked mushy rice in combination with the pumpkin works wonders. Yes, we do spoon feed our dogs when they are sick. Everyone feels better when they are babied a little.

As for grooming we use natural soaps for ourselves and since its safe for us we use it on them. For spot cleaning we use baby wipes(as opposed to dog specific wipes which can cost four times the amount and is the same thing just a different package or we use an old rag and plain water. Yes, my wife brushes our dogs teeth and they get the occasional cow femur which gives them something to play with and helps keep their teeth healthy. These bones are safer for dogs than rawhide(as they can become lodge in the dogs digestive track0 or pork bones (as they can splinter and can cut up their digestive tracks as well).
We use the cheapest generic kitty litter for our cat because she is allergic to anything else. As often as not our cat plays with our baby's toys as store bought toys.
We keep one thing in mind: Tim The Enchanter, Naughty, Naughty Zoot, and KC aren't pets they are family.

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Linda Lambert

Saving money if one wants a new companion is best done at a shelter or rescue. Pet stores will definitely lie about where their puppies come from! If you do get the honest information, usually at least in this state it has to be posted near the cage, google it and you'll find its usually a "puppy mill" where the mothers live out short hopeless lives-the puppies usually have a multitude of health problems that will need to be taken care of and expensive! Perhaps congenital (interbred and mental problems too) I got my 1st puppy ever too years ago, parents were both there and having to deal with house training, chewed up things- and peed on rugs, never again! My other dog came from a shelter, she was house trained, spayed, had all her shots and was micro chipped and no one could have a sweeter dog (she helped me train the puppy!)

She is a beautiful dog and people ask me what her breed is, they want one! She was removed from a house after being starved and tied out, she had bald marks around her neck, was skin and bones- now she is the sweetest thing, no long term, except she licks everyone and everything in sight (even my dashboard) and sings when I get home, she is so happy! She was only 6 months when we got her- so almost a puppy but not all the puppy problems- also the "puppy" I got grew to 98 never know what your going to get, but we love him!

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After China made pet food that resulted in the deaths of many pets, I began to make my own dog food. Rice, veggies and some meat, sometimes an egg. I make enough for a week at a time.

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I save money on pets by not having any!! Really, quite a deal.

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No pets? You poor soul. Pets are the cheapest therapy going and much better companions than most people. You don't know what you're missing.

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I save money by giving my dog a bath at home. I also make him homdmade dog treats.

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I actually groom my dog myself. I wash him with baby shampoo, and have a special set of electric razors to shear him. It is not difficult, and I think that he likes it better than going to the groomer!

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I haven't always had rabbits in my life, and didn't know as much as I had needed to know with my first bunny. It turns out the little guy settled right into my heart and made a bunny-shaped spot, so I found another rabbit to bring into my life after his death due to insufficient knowledge...

I learned my lesson the hard way. I don't *just* use The House Rabbit Society's web page; I also talk to the vet, and we get my doe checked when she's looking 'off' instead of waiting for there to be a Problem. Always assume that there's a bit more to know, always keep your eyes open for behaviour shifts, and ask if there is any doubt.

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I now bathe and shave my own dogs. My boyfriend says it looks better than when the groomer used to do it.

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Sarah R

After the pet food recalls, I became very wary. I'd always fed my cats high-quality food, but now I want more info from even those producers. And I'm not willing to compromise on the food I feed them or the natural litter I buy.

Because one of them is a walking vet trip (losing teeth despite my efforts and constantly doing something stupid), the only thing I'm doing differently is creating a little pet emergency fund so I don't have to pay his bills with my EF. It's not being frugal, but it is being smart with money, I guess.

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I love my kitty. She is worth every penny I spend on her. However, I've always been cognizant of what I'm spending for food and litter. I get a pretty cheap, but not generic, food brand for her, and I regularly use coupons. I used to get a giant bag of it, but we discovered bugs in the big bag before she finished it, and I don't really want her eating buggy (or even just really stale) food. We tried the generic brand once, but that led to quite the stinky litter box, and we quickly switched back. Finally, I buy cat litter in the giant containers (it's not like it goes bad like cat good), and I stock up when I see it cheap or I go to the stores where it's cheapest. Plus coupons.

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I decided to double the money I was paying in pet insurance and start a pet fund. I have two cats and they mean the world to me. They get high quality food, indoor only, always are up to date on their shots and vet visits. They always seem to get a clean bill of health. They are spoiled but more in the attention area then stuff.

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We just have a kitty right now. He probably saves us a lot of money just being an awesome companion. We want to adopt more animals and start a family but financially, we're just not ready. Our cat is such an attention hog anyway! Who needs more company than that?!
As for cutting costs on him, we don't really. We only buy him Purina dry food. We know that better food is linked to a longer and higher quality of life. We only save money on the things that affect us. For instance, cat litter. He doesn't care if it clumps or smells pretty as long as we keep his box clean. He'll drink out of any dish we put out and his favorite treat is the tuna water we drain off our cans. His favorite toy is a bobby pin.
We didn't choose the cheapest vet. We choose the one that took the time to examine him (with us present of course). When he was a kitten we took him to a farm vet for our "one free neuter per household". They neutered him alright, and he almost died from the anesthesia. If they had just looked at him before they sent him home with us, they would have known something was wrong. That vet was later disbarred for not actually giving shots or medicines that he charged for. He would take pets to a back room for their shots and inject saline! No wonder his prices were so low!

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Queen Vee

I have a whippet and bathe him and clip his claws myself. I buy him 'pet mince' (i.e. minced scraps) from the butcher at a dollar for 750 grams - it's full of all the nutritious (yucky) bits! He gets chicken necks too, for two dollars a kilo, and some kibble and people food (cheese, raw egg, butter, biscuits, fruit) to round things out.

Also, while he has a few toys, one of his favourites is an old pair of socks - he loves to get them to come apart!

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When I moved back to New Orleans from Virginia last summer I wanted to get bigger pet carriers for my two cats. I went to the local animal shelter and was able to purchase carriers for $5 a piece that were big enough to for the cats to stand and turn around in. I also picked up a few disposable 8-inch cake pans at Walmart that I filled with litter and stuck in the carriers so the cats would be comfortable for the trip.

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As in, the stuff dogs should be getting every day from connective tissue in raw meaty bones, which are also food and a plaything?

We had one dog die of cancer and after doing extensive research, I will never again feed a pet dry grain-based dog food, or any primarily cooked food, for that matter. I cannot comprehend the trouble and expense people go to to feed their animals exactly the things that raise their risk for numerous health problems. Even "good" dry pet food smells pretty bad, too; I don't want it in the house.

We feed RAW meaty bones primarily, switching the types and the balance of meat to cartilage to bone (in practice, this means having two packages open in the bottom drawer, and pulling one or two whole pieces out at mealtime, alternating packages until they are gone, then switching to the next two types of RMB). The dog carefully grinds each bone, reducing it to a find-grained wet meal that is completely safe for her GI tract (RMB may not be right for dogs who wolf food and can't be trained to eat carefully). I get fish heads and scraps (without sharp bones) once in a while. She also gets the occasional whole egg with shell. Her treats are a penny or two each - small chunks of liver, heart, green tripe... inexpensive, nutritious variety meats. She also gets salmon oil pills my husband didn't like (and she adores), and only the vegetables she's otherwise steal off the counter - squash, occasionally greens.

Our only vet bills are for checkups, when the vet praises her coat, build, mood and sparkling teeth. She's both strong and resilient, and when one day she did make a run for it and was struck so hard by a car we were certain she'd been killed... not even a limp.

The best part? All that bone meal deodorizes her poop, and she never has diarrhea or constipation. RMB dogs aren't prone to anal gland problems, either.

Our costs are pretty low. There's no waste, so she eats less total bulk. Anywhere from free for butcher bones and scraps to 40-50 cents a pound for chicken necks and backs to about a dollar a pound for pigs' feet. We buy all the gamier managers' specials, too, the ones people might think twice about eating (that's how she knows we really, REALLY love her).

Oh... another thing. Please don't use chemical scented products like dryer sheets on your animals. They don't need the pthalates or the respiratory irritation. Dryer sheets are wax, which is why they make your clothes grey and shouldn't be used on towels; if you must, rub the stump of a beeswax candle over a brush or cloth and use that for the final stroke.

Unless she's rolled in something unbearable, we wash with water. If she is stinky, we let her get nice and muddy at the dog park, and then wash with water (or, if absolutely necessary, extremely dilute castile soap on the gross areas only). Dirt/dust capture grease, funk, etc. as well as most detergents, and are much safer for her skin.

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in order to cut costs we gave our dog away. it worked out really well. we just had a new baby and not only was our money tight but our time was too. my mother in law was looking/thinking about another dog to keep her dog company and wasnt sure about it becuase she was afraid of how its temperment would be. we already had a full grown dog who we knew to be kind and absolutly adorable so she took in our dog for us which helped us out alot. it also sparked some interest in her dogs bored life. the two girls get along great and love having the company.

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There is a careful balance all pet owners must strike in this economy between saving money on your pets and cutting costs so that their health suffers. My family has become diligent with cutting coupons, but we have also begun to make our own cat and dog food. We can find deals on chicken and veggies each week at a local grocery store and can make food that is cheaper per pound than regular dry food.

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We bathe the dogs at the house and we trim their nails. Unfortunately we cannot trim my parrot's nails - she's too bite-y!
I try to save money wherever I can, but I will not compromise on the quality of their food - it winds up costing more in vet bills!
Tammy S

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Ernest S.

This is going to sound crazy, but since our budget has been tight, I have been creating my own cat toys using old and worn pairs of socks, toilet paper rolls, catnip and some string. I found that my cat LOVES new toys, but like us humans, gets bored or tired of them after a while (with the exception of two toys which she seems to always love).

The homemade toys aren't the prettiest, but it's satisfying to see them grab her attention (and eventually her claws)!

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The only pet toys we still have are tough ropes for pulling and a few Kongs left around (good for a bit of PB). She is *never* bored with a bone.

Never had a purchased pet toy for our cats, either. Bit of yarn, sock with a rubber ball in the toe, milk jug rings (the best), feather on a string.

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We build a cat condo for our cat to play with, and she likes to eat chicken and tuna. So we feed her some leftover meats.

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I lost a dog 2 years ago due to the bad batch o f dog food. I MISS HIM TERRIBLY!!! I had to put him down due ro kidney failure. I now have 2 resures dogs but due to financelley problems I cant afford the 2 doggs I have.I only hope that someone can help. I work 40 hours a week at a farm. My huisband is laid off but I want to keep bothknow where to get help please contact me @

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I personally do a mix of quality dog kibble that I purchase at and give him fresh shredded chicken. He is a spoiled little Westie and I plan on keeping him that way.