Being a pet owner inherently means that you have a warm and caring heart. After all, you're clearly willing to open up your home and life to an innocent animal who deserves love and attention, and what's more caring than that?
And sure, welcoming a pet into your family is a big commitment, but think about the pay off: happiness, companionship, loyalty. It's a wonder that not everybody decides to make their home a “forever home” for a cat or dog in need!
But for all the joys of pet ownership, having your own four-legged friend can be a bit stressful, too, especially when it comes to finances.
Fortunately, there are many valid and valuable solutions for rearing your pet on a budget that don't require you to skimp on the quality of care that she receives.
From investing in her health early on to taking grooming matters into your own hands, we've got plenty of ideas that will help you raise your furry friend without breaking the bank.
Pet On A Budget Infographic
1. Be smart about food.
Don't fall into the trap of buying low quality cat food or dog food simply because it's less expensive than higher quality brands. You may think you're saving money, but in reality, you could be trading short term savings for long term setbacks.
Think of it this way:
You are what you eat—and the same goes for your pet! The food that an animal eats day in and day out will have a dramatic impact on her overall health. This means that if you're feeding her cheap products full of preservatives, fillers, and other artificial ingredients (not to mention sorely lacking in important vitamins and nutrients), then you're more than likely increasing her risk for a wide variety of chronic health problems.
Aside from being unfair to your pet, this can cost you big time in illness-related medical expenses.
So yes, be willing to spend a little more money on the front end by researching and buying higher quality pet food, knowing that you'll be saving money on vet bills later on in her life.
You also may want to try making your own cat and dog treats. It's cheaper than buying store brand treats, plus you'll have full control over the ingredients that go into them (and, consequently, into your pet).
2. Comparison shop.
Be an informed consumer by comparing the prices, reviews, and overall quality of the veterinarians in your area. By selecting the veterinary clinic that seems to offer the best combination of affordability and quality, you can save money and ensure that your pet will get the best care possible.
Remember, too, that almost all pets need medications of some kind, including preventive medicine that protects against parasites like fleas, ticks, and heartworms. Prices can add up quickly, so go for generic instead of brand name—they contain the same active ingredients and are usually just as effective.
3. Get your pet vaccinated.
Here's all you really need to remember when it comes to your animal's health:
Prevention is cheaper than treatment!
So, be sure to give your pet all the vaccinations and preventive medications recommended by your vet and required by law. This helps your pet avoid harmful and potentially lethal diseases and helps you avoid expensive medical bills.
Be aware that only some pet vaccinations are legally mandated. Others, like the Bordetella (“kennel cough”) vaccine, are considered non-essential and are instead given on a case-by-case basis, depending on the lifestyle and environment of the pet. So be sure to ask your vet which ones are right for your animal.
4. Acquire proper pet insurance.
Pet insurance may save you money…and it may not. If you're thinking about getting pet insurance, be sure to shop around the various companies and read the fine print before you sign any policy. Many policies will only cover certain illnesses or injuries if your pet is insured before the age of two, and most basic plans won't cover the costs of routine veterinary care, such as annual wellness exams.
In general, while pet insurance may be a wise safety net for animals who are more at risk for certain health problems (like purebreds), it's not always necessary for everyone. Chat with your vet if you need some guidance.
5. Spay and neuter your pet.
Spaying and neutering is good for a few reasons: it reduces the burden of pet overpopulation on your community and local animal shelters, it reduces your pet's risk of certain cancers and hormone-related diseases, and it saves you money on veterinary costs associated with reproductive health issues.
So, unless you plan on breeding your four-legged buddy (and boy can that get expensive!), you should definitely have your animal spayed or neutered.
Keep in mind that registering your pet with your town is often cheaper if the animal is neutered, which can save you even more cash.
6. Consider do it yourself grooming.
The sooner you get in the habit of clipping your pet's nails, the easier it will be on both you and your animal. By having the vet show you how, you can safely do it yourself without having to bring her to the groomer every time she needs a trim. You should also invest in one of the best cat nail clippers because it is an investment that will pay off.
You should also be sure to stay on top of your pet's teeth, coat, and ears. All three can easily become breeding grounds for bacteria, yeast, fungi, and infections, but regular inspections and cleanings can help you avoid the mess, hassle, and treatment costs.
Be sure to review with your vet how to brush your pet's teeth, clean her ears, and brush her coat, and note that different breeds of animals may require different tools or techniques to get the job done properly.
7. Barter services.
If you're spending long hours at work or going away on a trip, one of your priorities will be figuring out how to make sure your pet is properly looked after.
But instead of opting for a professional dog walker or boarding reservation at the local kennel (both of which can get super expensive super fast), consider asking your fellow pet-loving friends for some help.
In exchange for their help, you can offer to do something in return. This way, you, your friend, and your pet will benefit—all without having to spend a dime!
8. Play and exercise with your pets.
Cat and dog training experts will tell you that well-adjusted animals need discipline and exercise (and not just cuddles and affection, even though that's all we may want to give them sometimes!).
Engaging in regular playtime with your pet, and challenging her with stimulating toys, games, and walks, will help ensure that she stays both healthy and obedient. Not only will this improve her quality of life, but it will also help you minimize costs associated with health and behavior problems, many of which are avoidable through regular exercise.
Plus: playtime is fun and costs you little to nothing! If spending money on toys isn't within your current budget, try to improvise with some things around the house, like cardboard boxes, tennis balls, and water bottles (caps removed!).
Lastly, playing with your pet is a crucial and effective way to forge a strong bond with your lovable friend.
9. What exactly do pets save us?
Raising your pet on a budget is much easier when you can find places to save a little money here and there, which really adds up over the course of your pet's life. But it's important to realize that raising an animal can actually improve your own health and quality of life, which saves you money, too!
Owning a pet forces you to exercise and be more social, which can help you out emotionally during times of depression or stress. And since psychological stress is strongly linked with everything from heart disease high blood pressure, it's no wonder that our pets can actually make us healthier!
The bottom line is this: cats and dogs make us healthy, which saves us money. But our pets real values lie in their ability to help us find more happiness and joy in everyday life, and that, in the end, is priceless.
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