How to Cut Household Pet Expenses

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The raging debate between dog lovers and cat lovers on the superiority and awesomeness of the two respective species will likely continue in perpetuity unless some major development occurs, like dogs stepping up to cure cancer or cats managing to end world hunger. But one thing people on both sides can probably agree on is that animal companionship offers priceless moments. Everything from cuddling up with your cat on the couch after a bad day to watching your dog frolic in the yard on an early spring morning can bring smiles to affectionate owners' faces.

What's not priceless is the endless stream of pet food, collars, tags, leashes, toys, litter and veterinary visits that come with owning a fur-covered cohort. So to make sure your pet doesn't drain an abundance of funds, browse through the following tips.


Low-cost Pet Acquisition Tips

The hypnotizing magic of ordinary yarn!
The hypnotizing magic of ordinary yarn!
Michael Blann/Lifesize/Thinkstock

Let's start from the beginning: You've decided to acquire a new pet. It just makes good sense to commence your search at local pounds, shelters and other rescue organizations. You probably have an inkling of some of the qualities you want your pet to possess, but who's to say an animal meeting those specifications isn't already languishing away waiting for a forever family to adopt it.

If you go the rescue route, you'll enjoy lots of discounts on aspects of acquiring a pet like adoption fees, shots, exams, licenses and microchipping. (If it's an older animal, that typically defrays the cost even further.) If your heart is set on a purebred pet, you can often still find one from rescue operations, but consider mutts if you're looking to save money. They tend to be healthier in the long run.


Low-cost Pet Care Tips

Once you're ready to bring your new pet home, search around on sites like for supplies such as used crates, scratching posts and other cheap pet paraphernalia. When it comes to toys, consider making your own. Sure, pet stores offer fancy-looking chew toys and pricey packets of fuzzy mice, but your pets most likely won't make much of a distinction between those and old braided-together socks or milk carton lids. If they can chew it or bat it, they're good. On a similar note, toy with the notion of growing your own catnip or baking your own dog treats.

As for pet-related chores like training, grooming, nail clipping and teeth brushing, do those tasks yourself. Commit to walking a new dog regularly so your family doesn't need to shell out for doggie-daycare or a pet walker.


Quality pet food and pet health insurance are also frequently recommended -- you pay more upfront, but the savings can show up down the line. And speaking of food, that and other ongoing necessities like kitty litter, flea and heartworm medicine can be bought in bulk or directly from suppliers online to help defray the cost.

As for vet expenses, veterinary schools often provide discounted services. And even if one isn't in your area, it's a good idea to shop around -- vet services can vary quite a bit in price from clinic to clinic, and you may be surprised at what you find just a few miles down the road.

Related Articles


  • "8 Ways to Reduce Pet Care Costs." Moolamoney. Oct. 19, 2009. (Jan. 11, 2011)
  • "10 Ways to Cut Pet Expenses." Live Solid Network. (Jan. 11, 2011)
  • "50 Ways to Save on Pet Expenses." MisforMoney. Feb. 27, 2009. (Jan. 11, 2011)
  • Coombes, Andrea. "13 ways to save big on pet care." Marketwatch. (Jan. 11, 2011) TipsForKeepingPetCostsInCheck.aspx
  • "Having Trouble Affording Veterinary Care?" The Humane Society of the United States. Aug. 18, 2010. (Jan. 11, 2011)
  • "How to help control pet costs." Bank of America. (Jan. 11, 2011)
  • Pulliam Weston, Liz. "What your pet really costs you." MSN Money. Dec. 21, 2009. (Jan. 11, 2011) WhatYourPetReallyCostsYou.aspx