Owning a pet is often seen as incompatible with living a frugal lifestyle. And while it is undeniable that having a pet costs more than not having one, there are plenty of ways to save money on typical pet expenses. My husband and I have managed to save upwards of 70% of our income each year while caring for our sweet retired racing greyhound. Here are the tricks we’ve discovered to make this level of frugality possible with a dog in tow.
In addition to the following tips, you can always head over to DealsPlus to find ways to save on pet supplies:
Source: Community Table
Saving money on your pet actually begins before you even bring them home. It’s important to consider your lifestyle and how a pet will integrate into your household. If, for example, you’re at work most of the day, you’ll want to find an animal that’ll be content hanging out home alone. Otherwise, you’ll wind up needing to pay for a dog walker or doggie daycare.
My husband and I adopted a retired racing greyhound for exactly this reason—greyhounds are perfectly fine being home alone during the day. They’re fairly lazy, snoozy dogs and so their ideal day is one spent napping on a comfy dog bed. Since we both worked 9-to-5 when we adopted our pup, we knew we’d need a breed of dog well suited to this schedule. If we’d gotten a puppy or an active breed, leaving them alone during the day simply wouldn’t be an option. And we knew we didn’t want to incur the daily expense of someone else to care for our pup.
Furthermore, if you travel frequently, can you bring your pet along? Or do you have friends who can watch your furry critter? Otherwise, you’ll need to pay to board your pet. Boarding can be quite pricey, so calibrating your desire to have a pet and your actual circumstances is a wise idea. My husband and I actually waited quite a few years before getting a dog since we used to both travel extensively for work—and often at the same time.
Another lifestyle consideration are the hobbies that you pursue—if you’re a hiker, for example, it might be fun to have a dog who’ll enjoy joining you on the trail. Conversely, if you’d rather curl up with a good book, a lap cat might be more your cup of tea.
Source: Wallpaper Pup
One of the factors that led my husband and me to adopt a greyhound is that they’re relatively low maintenance dogs. Eliminating the need for a fancy hound haircut makes life easy! For the grooming that our pup does require, we’ve figured out ways to do it ourselves.
We bathe our dog, trim her claws, brush her teeth, comb her fur, and clean her ears ourselves. These are all things that a groomer will be happy to charge us for, but it’s an excellent area to save on by going the DIY route. Plus, it’s less stressful for our dog to be groomed at home by us than it would be if we had to take her to a stranger for these routine activities.
Source: Animal Fair
We take our dog for a yearly vet exam and give her heart-worm prevention medication as well as flea and tick prevention cream. In the same vein as human healthcare, taking care of pets responsibly entails ensuring that they’re protected from common diseases. In addition, by keeping your pet healthy, you’ll likely spend less on veterinary costs in the long run.
Even with these preventative and routine care measures, our dog still required a dental cleaning earlier this year, which cost over $600. Not cheap by any stretch, but worth it for the longterm health of her teeth and gums. Being prepared for unexpected costs like this is just another aspect of pet ownership. As with humans, emergencies can arise with our furry friends!
Our hound requires kibble that’s grain free, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy pricey name brand chow. We discovered that Costco sells a generic version of the food our dog likes for a fraction of the price. It pays to shop around and read ingredients carefully!
Pets add so much happiness to our lives, but it’s crucial that we’re financially prepared to assume all tenets associated with their care. I wouldn’t trade my pup for the world—she makes us laugh, brings us joy, and is an important part of our family. By planning ahead with adopting a breed suited to our lifestyle and by getting creative with insourcing the vast majority of her care, we’re able to frugally—and responsibly—create a home for our dog.