Having a pet is a rewarding experience, but it can be costly. From gear to registration to emergencies, these costs can add up (and if you aren’t prepared, it can take your wallet by surprise).
Here are some ways you can save money if you have a pet:
DIY Grooming. Our furry friends need some salon time, too, whether it’s washing fur, trimming nails- even the occasional hair cut. While there are some places where you can pay to have these services done by a professional, you can save a lot of money by doing some or all of it yourself at home. PetCare RX has a guide to grooming your dog based on breed, and VetBabble offers this guide for helping out your cat. (While cats are better at self-grooming, they still need some extra help with nail trimming, especially if you have an indoor cat.)
Pet Proofing. If you aren’t home all day, it’s worthwhile to make sure your pet has everything he/she needs to be fed and entertained for 8-9 hours straight. Making sure their needs are met in your absence will make it difficult for your pet(s) to get into trouble while you’re away. Keep food and anything potentially harmful (like cleaning supplies, detergents, etc) locked up so they can’t be ingested is a good way to avoid an expensive emergency vet bill. Invest in some gates or a kennel, or keep some doors closed depending on how much space you have and what is best for your pet.
Medical Expenses. Perhaps the most expensive part about being a pet owner is unexpected medical expenses (an emergency surgery can cost thousands of dollars). Animals, like people, also periodically get sick or need routine medical care like vaccines. Build some amount into your budget every month to prepare for this. There are some preventative measures you can take, too. In addition to making sure your living space is pet proofed, you can also invest in flea/tick collars and keep up with wellness visits to catch problems early on.
Play Time. Speaking of thriving, many pets need some form of play/exercise for health and happiness. For instance, many dogs in particular are active and love going for walks. If you can’t get your dog outside there are quite a few dog walking services, like Chicago Dog Walkers, Windy City Dog Walkers, or even Rover offer dog walking services. However, if you want to save some money, walking your dog yourself is a way to cut this expense. You can even offer your dog walking services to others and create an additional side hustle for yourself. Additionally, instead of buying toys from a store, you can make your own dog toys or cat toys (many of these are made from materials you already have on hand).
Food & Supplies. Some pet related expenses are unavoidable- your pet needs food, after all. Budgeting for these expenses by building them into your grocery bill. Also consider using coupons, if available (which you can also find for things like cat litter) to save money on things you know you have to buy frequently.
Damage Control. Accidents happen. Make sure you have some really good carpet cleaner on hand (spot cleaning is a lot cheaper than having to replace an entire rug). Have towels or slipcovers on your furniture if you’re worried about accidents or scratching while you’re away may also extend the life of your home goods. You may have to replace something here or there, but addressing accidents when they happen can save you some money in the long run.
Share with friends. If you are friends with other pet owners, an easy way to save money is to share the load. For example, you can take turns watching each others’ pets when you go on vacation or swap toys your pet didn’t like for new ones.
Having a pet doesn’t have to break the bank: you just need to plan ahead and be ready to spend some time with your furriest (or feathery-ist or scaly-ist) family members.