Frugal pet care in honor of Howie’s 2nd birthday

2nd birthday

Left: His first photo at the shelter, 8 weeks old. Right: Enjoying our anniversary camping trip last month.

I can’t believe how quickly time flies.

We made the decision to adopt a pet right after we moved to a new place. We were just beginning to live frugally out of necessity, but we managed to bring a pet into our family without sacrificing our budget.

It was absolutely one of the best decisions we’ve made. Howie has brought us nothing but joy, companionship, and comfort in some of our darkest times. He’s truly a part of the family.

Despite the horror stories you hear about pet expenses, rescuing a pet can be frugal. As long as you plan ahead for their vet care by saving a little each month and work necessities like food into your budget, it’s really not a huge burden.

That’s not to say caring for a pet is free. We spend about $350 a year on Howie’s vet care alone. But it’s absolutely worthwhile, and like anything else, you can reduce the burden by planning ahead. We put aside $25 a month for his vet visits, immunizations, and flea and tick prevention medications. We buy his medications at 1800PetMeds to save money, and we make his immunization appointments on Thursdays when our vet offers a 20% discount for shots.

If you’re committed to bringing a pet into your family without blowing your budget, all it takes is a little work and planning.

Here are some additional tips I’ve learned over the past two years:

Don’t pay for obedience training.

The biggest commitment for the first year with your puppy isn’t money; it’s time. If you don’t have the time to properly train your dog, then I don’t recommend getting one. You can’t teach your dog manners in an hour a week at obedience school, and you’ll only end up wasting your money. Instead, invest in a book on dog training and spend your time working with him.

Pet health insurance is a waste of money.

It seems tempting to insure your new pet’s health, but with all the loopholes it’s just not worth it. Often times you’ll spend hundreds a year on premiums only to discover your pet’s claim isn’t covered. Instead, save a little each month for routine care and keep building your emergency fund. If disaster strikes your pet, I’d consider that an acceptable reason to dip into your emergency savings.

Don’t be cheap when it comes to caring for your pet.

We choose to save money by planning instead of skimping. It’s okay to shop around for the lowest price on quality dog food, but don’t buy the cheap, low-quality stuff just to save a few bucks. Don’t avoid preventative veterinary care to save money, either. In the end, it will end up costing you more to deal with the problems it causes. And if you’re going out of town, spend a little extra for a reputable boarding facility. Your pet depends on you for the best possible care. If you can’t afford to give it to him, then you can’t afford a pet.

5 thoughts on “Frugal pet care in honor of Howie’s 2nd birthday

  1. Sharon

    Howie is adorable! We LOVE our dog too! I buy him some of the best dogfood out there, as well as make him special homemade food as well. I treat him as part of the family and would never skimp on his health. We never board him, we pay someone to come to the house and watch him. It’s a worthwhile price to pay for an animal who gives us so much in return!
    .-= Sharon´s last blog ..Menu for third week of No Spend Challenge =-.

  2. EastTXmom

    Howie’s sooooo adorable!! In February we finally found THE ONE to be part of our family with the kids now 8 & 6 and it definitely was the best decision.

    We recently had our ‘baby’ neutered (?) and they asked me while filling out paperwork if we wanted him to have pain meds if he needed them and I was like “of course!” The assistant informed me most people don’t since it cost extra. That makes no sense to me. Not only was it only $11 for the pills, but if this was my child I’d do everything possible to make sure they were comfortable.
    Unfortunately, people will cut corners anywhere.

    Take care, stay cool, it’s already in the mid 90’s here, ugh!

  3. Grace

    Most of this post strikes me as good advice, but it’s not one size fits all. For example, we do carry insurance on our large breed dogs, because we did the cost-benefit analysis and given the costs for anything that could go wrong with them and the likelihood that it will, we come out ahead with the insurance. This has been true over the last three years, even though there have been only three minor illness/injuries covered by our policy.
    .-= Grace´s last blog ..What’s to come =-.

  4. Mary

    Just adding my 2 cents, but I would argue that paying for obedience training has saved us tons in the long run. I absolutely still had to put in the time, but after reading several books, and spending hours online looking at training tips, I was still finding myself frustrated. Obedience training was great not only for me and my dog, but also the kids, who learned a lot about handling our fractious puppy. It even turned out to be more frugal in a way, in that we learned a lot of tips that were tailored to our puppy that helped stop the puppy destruction that only leads to spending on replacements.

  5. Megan

    I have to agree with the obedience training comments. But I think it depends on the dog. My dog (who is actually my parents’ dog and I haven’t lived with her for 5 years) did well on her own with obedience, but was SO easily distracted when other dogs were around. She needed the classes. Plus there were other great things that we learned. I think each dog is different.

    And unrelated – was looking at your 20 Goals list – combine the bikini with the Vegas show! Well, not literally. But from what I have witnessed, people truly believe that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so they’re content to wear just about anything while laying out by the pool. I know of no one who looks good in a g-string bikini, yet I saw many of them in Vegas. But who cares?! It’s Vegas!
    .-= Megan´s last blog ..Thoughtful, Inexpensive Gifts =-.

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