Saving on pet-related expenses

June 25, 2012 10:31:49 AM PDT
Caring for a pet can be a big expense, with owners spending between $600 and $3,000 a year depending on the breed and budget.

Josh Elledge from the Savings has some advice to help save on pet-related expenses.


Veterinary care can be one of the largest expenses with medications for everything from fleas to heartworm to more specific medications for your pet's ailments. It is possible to purchase medications through online pharmacies and save yourself a good deal of money. While critics may warn about the dangers of buying medications online, this is a particularly important option for families who might not otherwise be able to afford the medications their pet needs.

There are only 16 online pharmacies that are registered with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. This association reviews the pharmacy's practices to ensure they are compliant with all proper requirements.

While not completely fail-safe, experts I've listened to urge owners who wish to buy medications online to make sure they are doing business only with these sites. You can find the list

One option that might be a possibility is to ask your vet if she or he will match the pricing of an Internet retailer. Our vet has given us a nominal discount or recommended a rebate that was otherwise unknown when we've asked.


The second area that you can possibly save yourself a good deal of money is pet food. There are many options available for feeding your pet. Some owners opt for economy varieties. Economy varieties include Alpo, Beneful, Hill's Science Diet, Kibbles 'n Bits, and Purina. There are manufacturer coupons aplenty, which can add to the savings. In our database at, we regularly see these brands for 50-70% off retail prices. Getting deals like this involve timing your purchase and applying a high-value coupon at the same time.

Obviously, these brands are inexpensive by comparison, but can contain a large amount of filler like wheat, corn and soy. It's important that you review the labels and talk to your vet to discuss your pet's needs. You can also choose premium brands like Iams, Eukanuba, and some varieties of Hill's Science Diet. Large corporations own all these brands now (Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive). This is helpful from the standpoint in that coupons are available for budget-minded shoppers. Iams and Hill's, for example, recently published a $3 coupon that can make for some very good savings. Hill's is also offering a $12.99 rebate on selected varieties.

When purchasing, make sure to read the label. There are four things you want to look for:

1. The guaranteed analysis. (How much fat & protein in the food.

2. The nutritional adequacy statement

3. The ingredients (avoid foods with too much filler.)

4. The feeding guidelines

One website that you might find very useful in choosing a pet food This website is also very helpful in tracking pet food recalls. Sadly, recalls of pet food are fairly common.

If you own a larger breed dog, you may find that more expensive varieties are outside your budget (unless you are using your coupons!) This makes it very important to talk to your vet to talk about what ingredients to look for. Your vet may also be able to give you some ideas regarding supplementing your dog's nutrition.


The price of boarding can vary wildly depending on the quality of the care. If you want to get a great deal on boarding, the best deals on good boarding facilities will be found on the daily deal sites (Groupon, etc...). With some careful watching, you're bound to find a deal eventually - though the deals tend to be geared more for short term stays.

Don't be afraid to competitively shop the pet resorts - and ask if one location will match or beat the price of another - particularly if you are boarding for a longer period of time. Vacancy means lost revenue and pet boarding facilities are a business like any other who desire to stay busy. The best deals of all on pet care are going to come from exchanging pet sitting - or hiring a pet-loving tween. You can also ask for recommendations for reliable pet sitters at your local animal shelter or pet store. Pet sitters can charge a fraction of a pricey pet resort.


Forget hiring the dog whisperer unless you have special needs. The Internet is FILLED with step by step instructions and video examples of how to train your pooch to do all the tricks you like - or overcome any naughty puppy behavior. A training class is helpful for socialization - but after your puppy is old enough, make sure the dog park and walks in dog occupied areas are part of your regular routine.

Pet Insurance:

Pet insurance is usually not a good investment. "It's common to pay $300 a year or more for pet insurance. Over the life of a dog or cat that might be $5,000 or more. Most people are not going to spend that kind of money on covered pet health care.

For its August 2011 issue, Consumer Reports compared of nine pet policies for Roxy, a healthy 10-year-old beagle who lives near the magazine's office in Yonkers, N.Y. Roxy's lifetime vet bills have totaled $7,026 (in current dollars). In every case, the total premiums that would have been paid to those insurance companies were higher than Roxy's medical bills. It makes more sense to put a couple of hundred dollars into a household emergency fund each year for serious pet health issues.

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