Americans now spend over $58 billion per year on pets, according to the American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey. While everyone wants their dogs to live a happy and healthy lifestyle, most of us would like to cut a few corners. Here are 10 ways you can fetch some savings — and maybe even improve the quality of your dog’s life at the same time:
Measure Your Dog’s Food
One of the best ways to save money is also the simplest: measure your dog’s food each and every time. Obesity in dogs is an expensive problem, not only for the veterinary expenses you may potentially face down the road, but also for the food you waste by overfeeding. Talk with your vet about the proper amount to feed based on your dog’s life stage and activity level; then get a measuring cup to scoop food for every meal.
Purchase Pet Insurance Early
If you think you might want to insure your dog, investigate insurance sooner rather than later. Not only does it mean obtaining insurance before a chronic condition develops that would otherwise be excluded from coverage but, with many insurers, you can lock into a lower premium while your pet is young.
Band Together with Similar Feeders
Whether you feed kibble or raw, it pays to band together with other dog owners with a similar feeding style. You can save on large purchases, dividing the food among your households. Check with members of area Meetup groups or dog park friends to see if you can find others feeding the same diet as you to split a large order.
Ask About Discounts
Many veterinarians offer numerous discounts, from seniors and students to multiple pets and military members. If you might qualify for a discount, ask. Similarly, find out if your memberships and affinity groups include any pet-related discounts. Membership in AAA, AARP, and even buying clubs may qualify you for discounts on anything from pet boarding to grooming services.
Watch for Seasonal Specials
We all know about after-Christmas sales and end of season sales, but did you realize that many products are offered at promotional prices tied to pet observances? During February’s National Pet Dental Health Month, many veterinarians offer promotions on dental cleaning; you’ll also find special prices on dental chews and treats. Look for similar specials throughout the year, ranging from May’s Chip Your Pet Month microchipping specials to November’s National Senior Pet Month discounts on memory foam beds and ramps to help senior dogs access cars and furniture more easily.
Consider Your Local Pharmacy
Many pet prescriptions can be filled at your local pharmacy. The benefits are two-fold: you’ll often be able to take advantage of lower priced generic drugs and you can enroll in the pharmacy’s rewards program. Many pharmacies, from Target to Walgreens, permit pets to be added to pharmacy plans as family members, qualifying you for discounts.
Look for the Veterinary-VIPPS Seal
You’ll often save money ordering medications and preventatives online but check sites for the Veterinary-Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (Vet-VIPPS) seal. This oval seal means the site is accredited by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. If you order at sites without the seal, you run the risk of receiving a product that is not what it should be or a product that has expired and is no longer effective.
Ask Your Veterinarian to Match Online Specials
Once you’ve done some online shopping at Vet-VIPPS approved sites, print out the best deal and take it to your local veterinarian. Ask your vet if she can match or closely match the price. Vets certainly understand that pet parents need to save money but, in working with your vet, you’ll have the medications or preventatives entered in your dog’s records and you’ll also be supporting your veterinarian.
Many pet companies offer exclusive discounts to social media followers and e-newsletter subscribers. Subscribe, fan, and follow and keep an eye out for product codes and special offers.
Shop Thrift Stores
You don’t need to pay premium prices for new items; with some time and searching, you’ll often find used goods for your pet households. Items like baby gates — used by families for only a finite time — are great thrift store buys for pet homes.
With some care, you can make economical choices about your dog-related expenditures and provide your dog a healthy lifestyle. And remember: one of the best investments you can make for your dog’s health (and your own) and happiness is completely free: your daily dog walks. The time you share while walking with your best friend will provide physical, social, and emotional payoffs and those, as the saying goes, are priceless.