For most people, their pet is a member of the family. This means that you, of course, understand that properly caring for your animal is a necessary expense. Below are some tips to preserve your pet’s health and help them live a long and happy life. While some of the suggestions don’t fall into the short-term money-saving category, they will save you money in the long run. These are the best ways on how to budget for pet care to save money.
Find the Right Veterinarians for your Pets
Like human doctors, some veterinarians have better bedside manners than others. It’s important for you and for your pet to find a vet that understands you and whom you understand; one that truly shows that he cares about both you and your pet. There’s nothing wrong with interviewing vets and asking for their fees up front before you need their services. Any vet who won’t provide these things isn’t worth using. Once you find a vet you like and trust, stick with him or her. Being a loyal client will go a long way to getting reduced or even free services such as nail clippings that would otherwise be expensive. Also, if your pet should need an expensive procedure and if you’ve been loyal to your vet, you’ve got a much better chance of working out a payment plan.
Budget for Pet Care with Check-Ups & Shots
While annual check-ups and inoculations are an expense (usually about $50 for a dog or cat), it’s well worth it compared to the vet bills you could face if your pet picks up an infection because he or she has not had his annual shots and is, therefore, unprotected. Worse yet, an unprotected pet can easily become septic—a potentially life-threatening condition—from exposure to a pathogen and this could cost you well over $1,000 to return him to good health. Staying on top of your personal finance game involves proper budgeting and your pets are no exception. Keep track with free budgeting tools to track your spending.
Spay & Neuter your Cats or Dogs
Bob Barker of TV game show fame has been saying it for years and he’s right: spaying or neutering your pet will not only protect him or her from many diseases and help the pet live longer, it will stop the need to euthanize unwanted animals. If the fee your vet wants to spay or neuter your pet is beyond your budget, ask for a referral to a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. These clinics are generally staffed by well-respected vets in the community who are donating their time and their services.
Premium Food Can Save You Money
You’ve heard the expression; you are what you eat. The same is true for pets. While store brand or foods manufactured by mass retailers like Walmart and Costco are appealing because of their low price, they don’t contain the nutrients your pet needs to stay healthy. Feeding your animal low-priced food is the same as you living on a diet of fast food. Yes, it tastes good and fills you up, but there’s little or no nutritional value in these foods. Sooner or later, these sub-par foods will take their toll on your pet’s health resulting in everything from obesity to liver and kidney problems to heart and joint issues. What’s more, lesser quality foods result in bad breath, oily coats and tooth decay. While a large bag of bargain food can be a third of the price of a premium brand sold at a PetCo or a PetSmart, you’ll save money in the long run with fewer trips to the vet and a healthier, more active pet.
Exercise, Exercise, Exercise
Again, just like humans, dogs and cats need exercise. The last thing you want is an overweight animal. This results in depression and untold physical conditions that can cost you plenty. While it’s a lot easier to snap a leash on a dog and go for a brisk walk or toss a ball in your yard or at a fenced in dog park, exercising a cat takes a little more effort. Thin sticks with catnip-filled toys at the end will have your cat leaping through the air to get at it. Cats also respond well to small balls with bells in them. Remember, it’s your responsibility to keep your pet active and at the appropriate weight, so make time every day to play with your animal.
Don’t Buy Pet Insurance
While pet insurance can be a godsend if your animal should need an unforeseen procedure, generally most pets just need annual checkups and inoculations which costs far less than the premiums you’d pay for any insurance. A better idea is to create and maintain a pet emergency fund of say, $1,000. Not sure how to start? Here’s how to build an emergency fund. Not only are you not paying premiums for insurance you probably won’t use, you’re earning interest on that thousand dollars.
The bottom line for saving money on pets is to spend on proper preventative care, high quality food and a good amount of exercise. If you follow these simple tips, you’ll be amazed at how little your pet will cost you in vet bills and medications.
Did we miss any tips on how to save money when budgeting for pet care? Let us know if the comments below!