As a dog owner you know that there’s almost nothing you’d do to protect and help your furry best friend. You want them to be happy and healthy as possible, and you’re likely going to pay for it. The American Pet Products Association reports that annual spending on pets in the U.S. topped $60 billion in 2015. Dog owners’ basic annual costs exceed $1,640.
With that in mind, we found 12 ways to help you save money while spoiling your precious dogs.
- Take advantage of your rewards programs
If you frequent a particular store to buy dog food and pet supplies, take advantage of any available loyalty card(s). This way, you can use the points or cash back you earn on your future purchases. Note that some pet food companies offer freebies like a free bag of pet food after ten purchases.
- Buy pet food in bulk and store it properly
Your dog needs fresh food every day, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy dry food frequently. Buying pet food in bulk will let save money on the food, plus time and money by avoiding shopping. To keep dog food and treats fresh and tasty, store them in air-tight containers inside the home. When left outside, dog food and treats tends to get too hot and spoil, or they may attract bugs or mice.
- Always check the label on dog food
Pet food labels can be misleading. For foods with a named ingredient and qualifier, such as a “chicken dinner,” only 25 percent of the food needs to be chicken. Look at the ingredient list and nutrients label and try to find foods that aren’t stuffed with corn filler. In general, it’s best to consult your veterinarian before buying food for dogs with problems such as obesity, digestive difficulties, or sensitive skin.
- Do-it-yourself grooming
Grooming may sound a little bit difficult, but you’ll be surprised how easy it can be. With a little practice, and of course patience, you can groom your dog yourself. Imagine saving hundreds each year dog grooming. DIY grooming is best started when your dog is still young as this helps the pup become accustomed to you doing the bathing and trimming.
- Walking and boarding your dog
Dog walkers and pet sitters can be costly. Walking the dog is good for you and the pup, but that’s not always an option if you’re at work throughout the day. Setting up an outside dog run is a good alternative, if you have the space.
If you need someone to watch the dog while you’re away, a family friend might be a good (and cheap) alternative to boarding. This works best if you have a smaller dog. You can offer something in exchange, maybe you’ll babysit for free one night or take care of their pets when they travel.
- Don’t overfeed your dog
Obesity is one of the most prevalent problems for pets. This can lead to multiple health problems such as arthritis, diabetes, and even cancer that can be very costly to treat. So be sure to feed them just the right amount of food every day as “free feeding” can lead to weight issues. Plus, cutting back on unnecessary snacks also keeps your pet food budget under control.
- Save on collars and leashes
Because puppies grow quickly, changing collars, leashes, and other pet accessories can be costly. But, plan right and you can control expenses. Start by investing in a large collar, even your dog is still a puppy, and a high-quality leash. You can punch holes in the collar and allow the dog to grow into it. Choose a really simple dog collar that is easy to clean and not too costly to replace.
- Invest in durable toys
The truth is your dog doesn’t need fancy toys – the dog likely doesn’t know the difference. Plus, once they choose their favorite they’ll grab that one over the others no matter if it was cheap or not. Choose durable dog toys so that their favorite will last for years, but you can also rotate in a few cheap, or homemade, toys ever few months for variety.
- Alternative household cleaners
Having a dog at home can be a handful. But, you don’t have to spend too much on cleaning supplies to keep the floors paw print free. There are several household items you can use to clean your house without spending much at all. Try cleaning the floors with baking soda and vinegar (it’s best to avoid harsh chemicals near your pet’s nose anyway) and use a wet cloth to wipe the dog’s paws before entering the house. If they do manage to run in with muddy paws, let the mud dry and then it can easily be brushed and vacuumed away.
- Start the training early
A well-trained dog will be calmer, easier to walk, and more manageable when outside the house. This is a lot cheaper than having to pay for expensive emergency care because he ran into the street or ate something he shouldn’t have.
Research dog training tips or behavior issues online, or at the local library, and take on the job of training yourself. It’s best if you start young – as they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. You can also seek for advice from local dog trainers, your dog’s veterinarian, and other dog owners before enrolling the dog in professional classes.
- Turn old clothes into dog beds or dog clothes
Dog beds need not to be fancy or expensive. An old sweater can be your new dog’s bed. It is soft, easy to make, and far cheaper than those store bought dog beds. Plus, dogs will be comforted by your smell whenever they take a nap. If you can sew, why not make dog clothes for small dogs out of old baby clothes? There are many tutorials online that you can follow with ease.
- Start a savings account for your dog’s health care
This may sound absurd to some, but you’ll be thankful when your dog’s vet expenses start stacking up during an emergency. Set aside some money each month into a savings account for pet expense. This will save you from having to dip into other savings or pay with high-interest credit cards.
- Preventative care is cheapest
Regularly taking your dog in for a checkup can seem costly in the moment, but in the long run it’s much cheaper than paying for an emergency visit or costly procedure. Expect to spend $100 to $200 a year in checkups and remember it’s what’s best for the dog.