I’m starting my Living Frugal series off with my thoughts about pets. We had an emergency with our dog and had to take him to the vet on a Sunday. This was an unexpected expense that exceeded our budget. I know a lot of people who love animals, who’ve had to give them up because they just can’t afford them anymore. When the economy suffers, so do our family pets. Our dog is huge part of our family. We’ve done several things differently since we’ve switched to a single income family. Here are few things you can do to keep your pet happy, safe, and healthy without breaking the bank.
You would think I would tell you to cut costs on your pets food. But actually the opposite. Buy food that has healthy ingredients. This will help your pets health long term. Always read the label, ignore what the advertising says. If corn is the first ingredient, pass. Look for Chicken or Lamb as the first ingredient. This will help your pet’s digestive system. Stay away from wet foods too. Unlike dry food, wet food does nothing for your pets breath and teeth. Plus, in general, wet food isn’t nearly as good for animals as dry foods, and are very expensive. Also, watch portions. Don’t overfeed your pets. If you like to give your pets treats, think about making your own. And finally, let your pets eat healthy leftovers. I know our dog loves veggies more than our daughter does!
This was a hard one for us. We like to have our dog well-groomed, but realize how expensive it is to have a groomer regularly shampoo him, clean his ears, and trim his nails. We now bathe our dog at home. We’ve also started trimming his nails between appointments so we don’t need appointments as often. We also invested in a nice leather dog collar that will last for a long time. This way, we’re not wasting money on trendy collars that won’t last.
Pets and Vacations
We have a large dog, so it’s hard to get someone to watch him. So we use a pet hotel when we go on vacation. This can be a huge expense. For our vacation this year, we actually made a conscious decision to go somewhere our dog could go too. We had a wonderful time. After all, he is part of the family. If you can’t do this, find someone you can swap pets with when you each go on vacation. This way, you have someone you know and trust taking care of your pet.
Do you have pet insurance? We did for a while, but decided it wasn’t the best option for us. I’m sure there are different plans available, but ours didn’t cover basic needs, and had complex rules regarding reimbursement for vet expenses. It’s really a personal decision. One way to save money on the vet is to shop around. Find out what vets charge for office visits and vaccines. Also, make sure you’re getting only the vaccines you really need. If you have a pet that stays home and doesn’t interact with other animals, you might be getting a few vaccines you don’t really need. Check with a local vet for the vaccines your pet requires, and confirm what the suggested schedule for each vaccine is.
When considering bringing a new pet home, keep in mind the pet’s needs and maintenance. How much food, cleaning, grooming, time, and attention will your pet need? Pets are often high maintenance, and can have many unpredictable costs. For those of you with pets, you know the unconditional love they provide you and your family is priceless. With a little planning and fore-thought, that unconditional love you receive from them can avoid becoming overly expensive.
How do you maintain your pet budget? Have you had to cut costs to keep your pet at home? Let us know!