Pet owners can disagree on a lot. Are cats better, or are dogs? What's the best breed of dog? You get the ideaâ€¦
But there's one thing that all pet owners can agree on – Fluffy and Fido can eat up a good chunk of your monthly budget!
Pet food, toys, blankets, and flea medicine can all add up quickly.
But fear not! Here are 5 smart ways to save money on pet supplies to make life with your furry (or feathery, or scaly) friend a bit more affordable.
1. Ask Pet Food Manufacturers for Discounts
I love saving money, but I'm not big on couponing. We can save my explanation for that for another post. Let's just say that I tend to clip coupons only for higher-priced items. I count pet food among those high-dollar items.
I recently assisted a friend who operates a pet rescue with obtaining some supplies with her limited budget. I had the thought of just calling Purina and asking them for a donation. Much to my surprise, they sent me six coupons for free bags of Purina feed (including their premium brands) up to $23.99. In literally a three minute phone call, I found almost $150 in free dog food.
Stunned, I looked up the customer service number to the brand of dog food that my dog eats, Hill's Science Diet. I inquired about any free coupons, and they mailed me out a coupon for one free 10-pound bag of food. This was a $30 value. They also included two $5 coupons off of future purchases, so that's another $10 value received from this phone call.
Do I suggest that you call the manufacturer every month to do this? No, because I don't believe they will do this for you very frequently. Both companies were very diligent in recording all of my information and send follow-up emails to confirm that I received my free coupons. However, you can very quickly obtain coupons and save money right away on something that you use daily.
2. Save Money on Pet Medications
Vet bills are unavoidable and necessary. Just as you take yourself for an annual physical, your pet must receive one as well. Plus, annual check-ups can save you money by preventing diseases that are costly to treat. So, the advice isn't to trim the fat off the vet visits. The key is to save money on pet medications.
When your pet is sick and needs immediate medication, you will need to purchase it from the vet. However, you can save big money on maintenance medications, flea and tick prevention, and even pet insulin by ordering it online.
There are a number of online pet medication stores. 1-800-PETMEDS is the best-known retailer. They are reputable and have great customer service. They even have an app to make it easy to process your pet's prescription from your smartphone, making it easier than ever to order!
HINT: Check their website for promo codes before you place your order. You might save even more when you check out.
3. Sign up for Store Rewards Programs
Recently, I saw a television commercial that asked me to text a code to PetSmart to receive a special promotional code. I did so, and I was pleased to receive a code that entitled me to a 60% savings plus free shipping with my online purchase.
I live in an extremely rural farming community, and the closest PetSmart is a 70 mile drive. That made this a super offer for me, and I stocked up on my dog's Christmas presents. Yes, my dog gets Christmas, too!
Since then, I have been sent promotional savings a couple of times that were stout savings on in-store items. While I didn't take advantage of them, it's good to know that I will have these opportunities.
Also, don't forget to scan your in-store savings cards when you make a purchase to build up in-store perks that you can redeem on future purchases. They really do add up quickly!
4. Buy Pet Food in Bulk
You can save money by buying pet food in bulk if it makes sense to do so. This works best for pet owners with larger pets or multiple pets. If you have only one cat, this may not be the best value for you as food can spoil.
When you buy in bulk, you save substantially on the price of pet food by weight. If you will use the food quickly, it is the thriftiest way to go. If you have a medium to large breed dog or two or more dogs or cats, this is a great option.
This doesn't mean that you can't buy in bulk if you have a small dog or a cat. Find a creative solution. My dog only weighs 12 pounds. I buy in bulk and split the cost of a jumbo bag of dog food in two with my mother (who also has a small dog). We both save and the food doesn't spoil.
If you don't have anyone to split the food with, you can store the food in airtight bags or containers. However, if you try this and the food spoils or attracts pests, this is not the best value for you. Buying more than you can use doesn't make sense…or centsâ€¦for anyone.
5. Grooming at Home
Professional pet grooming costs a lot of money, and it's actually an easy task. Purchase the supplies to bathe and groom your pet at your local pet store (using your rewards cards, please) and learn to bathe your pet. Follow up with ear care, nail trimming, and pest control, and you've saved a bundle!
Here is a great how-to video on bathing your pet at home:
Bear in mind, your dog or cat may resist bathing at first. He may act resentful because you are for snuggles, and the groomer is the evil person who bathes them once in a while. Rest assured, the more your dog becomes accustomed to this, the easier it gets for both the pet and the owner. I have always bathed my dogs (and even my cats!) at home as needed. I promise you, the only injury ever sustained was my own in the form of cat scratches.
In conclusion, pets are like family. We love them and want to spoil them. You can spoil your pet and still save money by using these budget-saving tactics. While you may not find every method mentioned appropriate for your pet, try just one or two. You'll be surprised at the savings that you can accumulate.
Written by Deborah Ann Tayloe.