4 Smart Ways to Keep Pet Costs to a Minimum

Respect the “Awww” Factor

No, your new dog doesn't "need" a ramp like this. Are you trying to put short term loans to the test? (Photo: flickr.com)

No, your new dog doesn't "need" a ramp like this. Are you trying to put short term loans to the test? (Photo: flickr.com)

No amount of short term loans can replace the joy of welcoming a new pet home, and the frolicking of a kitten or puppy can create the “Awww” factor, making them hard to resist. But how much money are you going to end up spending on that cute new pet? If you are taking out loans just to provide for your pets, you may need to re-evaluate your priorities. In the meantime, follow these tips to keep your pet costs to a minimum.

Food: Generic or Name Brand?

Do you buy brand name pet food? If so, you are spending much more than you need to each time you buy pet food. Many brands in their marketing campaigns say that their brand is better formulated for your pet than the other brand, but honestly—are they really? Most, if not all, pet food must meet certain nutritional standards regardless of what brand it is—much like food for humans must have the same nutritional standards, at least in the United States. In fact, many pet food brands are manufactured in the same facility, but packaged in different brand name packages. Nutritionally, you are getting the same food, but you are paying less. Of course, if you must provide a better quality of nutrition, do not look to manufactured pet food to do it with, but give your pet a raw meat diet.

Cleanup on Aisle 4!

Once you buy the food and your pet eats it, it must come out, eventually. If you have an indoor cat, you will need to provide a clean and safe place for her to use the facilities. Initially, you will have to buy the litter box and litter, as well as a scoop for her “droppings.” On an ongoing basis, whatever litter you buy, you must continue using this because cats are creatures of habit and will refuse to use the litter box if you abruptly change the litter. So when you first welcome your cat home, be sure to find the least expensive litter you can, because you are going to be buying this type for a long time to come.

If you have a dog, buying specially made bags to scoop up their “droppings” is a waste of money, and you can actually use plastic grocery bags to do this with. Just put your hand inside the grocery bag, pick up the mess, and then turn the bag inside out so that the mess is inside the bag. Tie it up and throw it away. That’s simple, and you begin to eliminate the need for short term loans to buy pet supplies.

To Vet or Not to Vet

This is a very tricky choice, because many “experts” today say that you need to take your pet to the vet at least once per year for a maintenance check up—the same as what is recommended for humans. But if you have a healthy pet, is this really necessary? I have had my cat for going on four years, and we have not taken her to a vet yet. Yes, before we got her, she had all her shots. She has been healthy ever since we welcomed her into our home, and has not needed a vet visit.

If you should notice that your pet is acting out of the ordinary, then it would be a good idea to take your pet in to see a vet. Otherwise, you can skip this unnecessary cost and put your money into a debt repayment plan.

Treats, Toys and a Place to Sleep

This is the one section that many people end up taking out short term loans over to cover other expenses, because they overspend on unnecessary items such as a pet bed, chew toys and pet sweaters. Honestly – pet sweaters? Isn’t their fur coat meant to protect them from the cold? Pets do not need very much to be comfortable (just food, water and shelter), yet people tend to forget this as they buy expensive beds, food and water bowls, clothes and other items that a pet simply doesn’t need. Food and water bowls are essential, but a $2 bowl at Wal-Mart is just as good as that $35 bowl at Pet Smart.

Now for a word on pet beds – really? If you buy a bed for your pet, it will not get any use, as your pets tend to find their own places to sleep—usually on your expensive leather couch or your bed. The floor works just as well, and you can save money to pay off debts or invest.

Using these tips will not only save you money in the short term (no need for too many short term loans), but can also make you money in the long term if you use your savings wisely.