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11 Smart Ways To Save Money As A Pet Owner

Pet Expenses

The love and companionship of our pets is priceless, but taking care of them definitely has its costs! Between food, grooming, visits to the vet, and more, the costs of caring for a pet can add up.

And since we could all stand to save a bit of money where we can, today I wanted to share some easy ways to save money on pet-related expenses. But more importantly, I wanted to share money-saving tips that don’t cut corners when it comes to your pet’s health and wellness.

Because saving money and taking great care of your pet shouldn’t have to be mutually exclusive! :-)

11 Ways To Save Money On Pet Expenses

Pet Expenses

1. Adopt, Don’t Shop

Buying a pure bred pet from a breeder can cost thousands of dollars. Consider adopting a pet from a shelter or rescue instead, which will not only be cheaper, but will also save an animal’s life!

Even if you have your heart set on one particular breed, you can still find ways to adopt or rescue one. All sorts of breeds end up in shelters, and you can even find rescues that work exclusively with one breed.

Pet Expenses

2. Spay/Neuter At A Humane Society

Getting your pet spayed or neutered can be a big expense. Getting it done at a local humane society instead of at the vet can save you quite a bit of money!

To find a low-cost spay/neuter program near you, use ASPCA’s locator tool.

Pet Expenses

3. Use Price Matching

Use price matching to make sure you’re getting the best price on your pet supplies. Both PetSmart and Petco offer price-match guarantees!

Check prices at both stores, as well as at online pet supply stores like Wag.com and Chewy.com to make sure you’re paying the lowest price possible.

Pet Expenses

4. Exercise Your Pet

Pets that don’t get enough exercise can turn into troublemakers, or even become downright destructive! Replacing chewed up furniture is a massive expense, and you can avoid it by making sure your pet has a healthy outlet for all their energy!

Make sure to take your dog on regular walks, and be sure to give cats proper exercise too. Some cats love dangly toys, others love chasing laser pointers, and others prefer climbing. Try out a few things to find the best way to keep your dog or cat active!

Pet Expenses

5. Try A Subscription Service

As long as you buy the same products for your pet on a semi-regular basis, signing up for a subscription service is an easy way to save money. Here are a few popular pet supply subscription services and their features:

  • Amazon – Save 5% through Subscribe & Save, and up to 15% off when you order 5 or more products in a given month to a single address.
  • PetSmart – Save 5% on every autoship order, plus free shipping on orders over $49.
  • Petco – Save 30% on your first Repeat Delivery order, plus free shipping on orders over $49.
  • Chewy – Save 30% on your first autoship order, and get 5-10% off select brands in future orders.

Pet Expenses

6. Join A Rewards Program

Many brick-and-mortar and online pet supply stores offer rewards programs for their customers. Make sure to take advantage of these to save yourself some extra money!

  • PetSmart treats – Earn points with every purchase and redeem them for discounts on products and pet services.
  • Petco Pals Rewards – Earn rewards points and redeem them for cash rewards, and receive free shipping on repeat delivery orders.

Pet Expenses

7. Groom At Home

On average, taking your dog to a groomer costs somewhere between $45-70. If you get your dog groomed every 6 weeks, that can add up to $400-600 a year!

Grooming your dog at home some or all of the time can be a big money saver. Invest in a few basic grooming supplies and watch some dog grooming tutorials on Youtube to learn how its done!

Pet Expenses

8. Save On Treats

Fancy dog treats are often expensive too. You can save money by supplementing those treats with treat-sized pieces of dog-safe human foods! Here are some healthy options you can try out:

Pet Expenses

9. Buy Cheaper Bags

When it comes to picking up dog poop, any ol’ bag will do. Since many dog owners have to buy poop bags frequently, make sure you’re getting a good deal on them!

You can often pick them up at dollar stores, or you can get a good deal by buying them in bulk online.

Pet Expenses

10. Keep Up On Vaccinations

It’s much cheaper to stay current on your pet’s vaccinations than it is to pay to fix expensive health issues down the road! You can even order certain pet medicines and vaccines online and administer them yourself at home to save even more money.

Pet Expenses

11. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

Did you know that most dogs over the age of three show some signs of gum disease? Gum disease is not only painful for pets, but it can also lead to or worsen other health issues down the line.

Keep your pet’s teeth clean by brushing them with the proper tools and pet-specific toothpaste. You can also ask your vet to include a dental exam and cleaning as part of your pet’s yearly exam.

Tell me about your furry friends in the comments below!

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • My beautiful rough collie loves apples! Peal and quarter any eating apple, and slice across the quarter apple to about the thickness of a nickel. A good treat. So is a thin slice of chicken breast, poached without skin, cooled and cut into one inch squares.

  • AS a mom of three dogs ranging in ages 14years to 8 months I always recommend pet insurance. You may think that does not go with “how to save $”; however, if you chose the right policy for the age of your pet – changing it to match their age and needs- it can be a huge savings. All it takes is one incident or major illness to hit hard on the pocket book. Peace of mind is also worth a bit. We have used PetFirst out of IN for 13 years and have been very satisfied.
    Also- if you feed raw, seek a co-op group. Another way to save big and feed the kids in a healthful way .

  • For cat treats I buy a small bag of quality cat food that’s different from what I usually feed them. Is much cheaper than regular treats and they still clamor for them.

  • In addition to re-using plastic grocery bags, shopping at the dollar store for pet waste bags, the bags used for human baby dirty diapers are the perfect size for picking up pet waste and the cost is nominal for 50 to 100 bags.

    • That’s what we do as well. I have the reusable grocery bags, but we still get some items in the plastic grocery bags. We also use the plastic grocery bags ,for the small trash cans in each bedroom,instead of buying bags.

  • Just one word of caution about ice cubes – give ice chips or crushed ice instead. Ice cubes can fracture a dogs molars and then you are faced with a very expensive vet bill.

  • I do not like dogs nor cats one bit but I save all of my empty bread bags and similar empty plastic bags(that are too small to reuse for trash liners) for friends that do have pets. I feel good about recycling or reusing those bags and they don’t have to buy bags. I bet everyone has multiple friends who would be willing to save bags for them. This not only saves the environment by manufacturing less bags but also saves money. Think of the annual trash savings if only 100 of OGT pet owners started reusing and stopped buying bags.

    • I can certainly understand not wanting to own(?) a pet, but not liking them one bit is a rather strong statement. But I appreciate your thoughtfulness for your pet-owning friends. We have several rescued cats, and we also save our plastic bags to deal with their messes. I stopped buying litter, and use old newspapers, magazines, and printer paper to line the litter boxes. I collect the used paper in the plastic bag, tie it up and toss. Saves us lots!

  • These are all great ideas! My daughter is the chef, groomer, walker, chauffeur and chew toy…..(just kidding!)
    We raised service dogs and got them when they were 6-8 weeks old. She got them used to getting groomed immediately, brushing them usually twice a day. Always hands on….. to get them used to it. Brushing their teeth, clipping their nails, getting bathed was never a problem when you ease them into it. He had no problem with loud noises and thought the vacuum was a noisy toy.
    Our last pup wasn’t crazy about water (and he’s a Lab!) but he liked being treated like royalty. He enjoyed the attention and then the belly rubs afterwards.

    He enjoyed it so much that he didn’t want to leave. When we sent him off to ‘college’ he missed us and decided he liked being pampered. I told my daughter, she gave him one to many Spa days!

  • Respectfully, that’s just you’re opinion. This article does have good tips on saving money and I personally LOVE that she brought up adoptimg since I put a lot of my free time into trying to save pets that have been dumped at kill shelters because there are too many unwanted pets. Also, you do need to keep up on vaccinations.

    • You can get them cheaper by going thru an online account. Just give them the name and address of your vet and they can call the vet and get the Rx, and it will be delivered to your door. We get both HeartGuard and NexGuard that way.

    • I found canadapetcare.com couple years ago and have been buying Advantage Multi (called Advocate in Canada and little less potent and bad smelling but works just as well) at about half the cost of that in US. No online store in US can beat their prices. Shipping takes longer so order in advance and use tracking. They have a sale going on most of the time.

    • You can get a script from vet and then purchase online from chewy.com or another reputable source. Also, research essential oils. I use Geranium oil for ticks, and you can mix up a recipe for fleas. I believ brewers yeast is also a good flea deterant if sprinkled on food. A little research can yield many ideas and you can see what works best for your pet. Talk to your vet for advice too. Heart worm meds I think are just necessary – haven’t found a sub for the expensive meds. Good luck

    • I am retired and my SS check doesn’t go as far as my pay check did. So I find that Costco has the best price for heartworms meds. It is $59 cheaper than from my vet.

  • All very good points! We’ve always brushed our two 10 pound dogs teeth and they go in for dental check ups with their annual health appts (and cleanings, when needed). Vaccinations are always done, and the food they eat is the BEST we can buy. Research, research, research their pet foods. Ours eat food that doesn’t have ‘fillers’, and is full of a wide variety of healthy foods pets need. The only adjustment we’ve made is an alteration when we discovered a slight food allergy. They get fed morning & night and occasional treats (again, RESEARCH!), plus the occasional green beans or a carrot chip (tiny dogs need tiny treats). Both dogs were rescues – one is a full bred Coton de Tulear and the second is a terrier found on the streets of LA, obviously had been loved but got out. We spoil both — it will be always be a RESCUE dog for us. Both of ours are smart, charming, loving and were grateful when we took them home — how can you NOT adopt?

  • I have been making homemade dog biscuits for years now. I often share with family and friends. I feel better about what my dogs get my making them myself. I have a large selection of recipes and cookies cutters to make it fun for all. When sharing make sure to ask if the dog has any allergies, I have one that can’t have cinnamon, that way everyone will be happy.

  • We have been taking our (healthy) pets to a mobile pet clinic for their annual vaccinations. The clinics are offered around the area generally every weekend, which makes it very convenient, AND we save on the office visit fee.

    • We don’t have a mobile pet clinic but our local Petco and Petsmart offer annual vaccination clinics several times a month. The cost savings is great! Only downside is that there are usually quite a few other pet owners (dogs/cats) so if your pet isn’t friendly toward other animals it can be a bit stressful for you and your pet.

      • If you have an animal who does not get along with others – make an appt with the clinic to be the last animal of the day so you reduce the exposure to a minimal. This always worked for me.

  • Adopt, adopt, adopt! I volunteer at animal shelters and am a huge advocate of adopting. Consider getting an older pet. Their personality is formed and you will know if they are compatible with your lifestyle. If possible, visit the shelter numerous times (or volunteer!) to get to know the animals and see which one is right for you. Cats, especially, seem to want to make the decision for you. They will pick their preferred human :). I have found that the animals with the best personalities often get overlooked because they don’t stand out in the looks department. Ask the shelter workers too, they will know the quirks of each of the animals.

    • I think getting an older pet is a great idea. They will surely appreciate and love you – plus they are house trained and will adapt to you easily – with some love and patience from you.

  • Love your columns but want to point out something my vet once told me about human food for pets. My West Highland Terrior, Fergie, loved carrots, especially baby carrots. She could hear a carrot peeler from 50 paces! However, when she died @ 14 yrs the vet told me that we may been able to give Fergie a longer life if we had not indulged her in her favorite treat…carrots. They are full of sugar Jillie and can add substantially to your pets weight especially if your animal is already sedentary. In addition to added calories, sugar even naturally occurring food sugars are not good for your pets’ health.

    • Your Fergie lived a long life. Unless you fed more than a small carrot once or twice a week, you did nothing wrong. Everyone should remember that treats really should not be a daily thing. they are a treat, not nutritionally needed. If you are training or need the incentive of the treat, remember they only need a taste, not a meal. Something the size of a nickel, then cut in four pieces is all they need. Big or small dogs. My friends think I am cruel for not giving a store bought treat every day, but my dogs are healthy and were slim until they slowed down at 13 and up(large breeds). Now I have to watch their weight more. A box of treats can last me 6 months. or more.

      • i have two dogs ..a half Jack Russell and a black lab. After they have their dinner, they sit down and stare at me until i give them each 2 small dog cookies.

    • I have a 7 month old chihuahua who loves carrots, celery, and mangoes. She does a little dance when she smells them. I limit her to 2 or 3 small pieces a couple of times a week (no matter how much she begs). All in moderation is the key.

  • That is the ugliest dog I’ve ever seen. So ugly he’s cute . Just like my Granny! Thanks for the great tips! I have a picky eater. Can’t seen to find a dry food that he likes. Anybody out there have any ideas?

      • Use the Bone Broth specific for dogs and cats – Human Bone Broth has ingredients that harm animals.

      • I make my own chicken stock from bones, carrots and celery only ( instant pot) and use 2 oz + 2 oz water to moisten

    • Try a raw food diet. That doesn’t mean just a bowl of raw hamburger, it must be a balanced diet so they get the calcium, minerals, enzymes, etc. they need. I’ve had my last 3 dogs on it & vet bills have gone to 0 except for check-ups, rabies shots. They’ll lose the extra pounds that come from kibble (mostly all carbs which convert to sugar), and be less likely to end up diabetic or with skin problems, allergies, arthritis or cancer. Google the B.A.R.F. diet (Biologically Appropriate Raw Food) and you’ll find lots of info. It’s not the cheapest way to feed, but I’d rather do that than pay the $$ to the vets who pump them with expensive drugs. Their hair shines, their teeth stay cleaner, they are healthy and happy, & best of all they LOVE to eat it! Your vet will likely poo-poo it … after all, there is less money in healthy animals, just like with doctors and people. The big pet food companies offer lots of subsidies to vet schools and vet practices so they push their products. Vets just aren’t taught much on the nutrition stuff in school, just like doctors aren’t. Dogs evolved from wolves, and wolves had no kibble. It’s garbage and your dog is smart enough to know it.

      • Yes! I agree! A person above was worried about feeding their pup carrots as a treat. I would be more concerned to read the ingredients on the bags of kibble because they are LOADED with filler. Keep the kibble as simple as possible if that is what you choose but homemade is a great choice too and I love choosing what is best for my pup. She is 13 now and I give her herbal supplements off and on as well. Great post though, except the vaccination part. Americans and their pets are suffering most in the ONE department: you MUST read, research and study about everything. Start by becoming an ingredient reader then research said ingredients and study whether you should put that in the mouth or body of you or your pet. This costs us nothing but costs us more than we know when we don’t do it.

      • My picky rescue went through a lot of foods before she liked one (other than what I cooked for her) – Stella and Chewy’s freeze-dried raw food. But unfortunately after 6 months on it, she got Colitis and severe constipation due to the high amount of protein. Then she was put on Hills w/d wet food by her vet and is now on Royal Canin hydrolyzed protein adult HP dry food. I’m scared to take risks any more.

      • Very sorry to hear about what you and your pet have been going thru. I hope the new food is working, and that she is doing better.

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