As a doting fur parent, I know pets aren’t cheap. With vet visits, medication costs, and food purchases—not to mention treats and toys—I spend over $5,000 a year on my “kids” alone, a cost that seems to rise each year.
More than half of my fellow pet owners agree, saying they’re shelling out more than they have in previous years. Pets don’t have to cost a fortune, though—here are four tips from experts to keep your wallet (and your pet’s kibble dish) full. (Want to pick up some healthier habits?
1. Choose a low-maintenance breed.
If you have an active lifestyle, you wouldn’t get an English bulldog, right? (Right.) The next time you pick a new pet, it’s OK to consider budget, too. “Some breeds have more health issues and could be costly,” says Jennifer Welser, chief medical officer with Blue-Pearl Veterinary Partners. For example, Labs are prone to orthopedic issues; bulldogs are susceptible to allergies. (You should also consider adopting from a shelter.)
2. Schedule checkups early and often.
It sounds counterintuitive, but routine exams can prevent spending more in the future. Vets can spot small changes, like hidden lumps or bumps, early on so they don’t turn into something more serious, says Welser. Regular exams can also help you bond with the vet and work with her to create a budget-friendly, customized health plan.
3. Start a rainy day fund.
Unexpected illnesses (like cancer) and injuries can happen anytime, so set aside some money each month. Another form of forced savings is pet insurance, says Andrea Woroch, consumer savings expert. As with health insurance, you pay a monthly premium to cover certain costly procedures should a pet require them.
4. Spot the savings.
Sites like Groupon and LivingSocial offer deals on pet sitters, walkers, and boarding facilities. Rover.com lists pet lovers who can take in and watch your pets—complete with reviews and price comparisons. You can also save major money through store reward programs and websites like 1800PetMeds.com.