With the average dog owner spending upwards of $1,200 a year on dog related things, it’s no wonder we cringe every time we run out of dog food and visit the vet. The fact is, dogs aren’t cheap. They need healthy food, toys, veterinary care, and regular grooming. We need to hire trainers, walkers, and pet sitters for when we go out of town. That’s not to mention all the treats, collars, and poop bags.
Our dogs are worth every penny, but we still want to save as much money as we can. Here are 20 ways you can easily save money as a dog owner.
1. Buy dog food in bulk.
Once you find a healthy food your dog likes, consider buying it in bulk. Most commercial dog foods have the option to buy large quantities for a discounted price. As long as you store it properly, bulk purchases will help you save money.
2. Make your own dog toys.
Your dog doesn’t care where their toys come from. You can save tons of money on toys by getting creative and making them yourself. One of my dog’s favorite toys is a simple braided tug toy that I made for him three years ago. You can make your own by cutting up old clothes and braiding fabric strips.
3. Avoid big box stores.
Petco and Petsmart can be fun, but they sure aren’t cheap. I try to avoid those big brand stores and shop more often at discount stores. TJ Maxx has a great pet section, and you can also find quality pet supplies at WalMart, Tractor Supply, Ace Hardware, and even Dollar General.
4. Shop sales and rebates.
Why buy something full price when you can wait a week and get it on sale? A lot of stores have regular and predictable sales that you can take advantage of. Holiday sales are a great time to stock up on pet supplies. You can also save money by buying products with rebates. A lot of flea and tick preventatives come with decent rebates that will save you money (as long as you remember to actually mail them in).
5. Learn to groom your dog at home.
Every dog needs regular grooming. Whether it’s brushing or baths, you can save money by doing those tasks at home. It’s pretty easy to give your dog a bath in the tub or even with the hose outside. This will be trickier for dogs with long, thick fur, but it could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
6. Make your own treats.
You don’t need to be a pro baker to whip up a batch of homemade dog treats. There are tons of easy recipes out there that involve minimal ingredients.
7. Try out group training.
Training is one thing every dog owner needs to invest in. If you don’t feel like you can train your dog by yourself, you might be able to save money by choosing a group training class versus private lessons.
8. Research training methods.
Whether you’re meeting with a professional trainer or not, you can reinforce your dog’s good behavior by researching training methods and practicing them at home. YouTube is a great place to find helpful training videos. The better behaved your dog is, the less money you’ll have to spend on things like destroyed couch cushions.
9. Brush your dog’s teeth.
A lot of dogs end up needing expensive dental work. You can avoid those vet bills by regularly taking care of your dog’s teeth. Brushing them on a daily basis will definitely save you money in the long run.
10. Keep up with flea, tick, and heartworm preventative.
Buying flea, tick, and heartworm preventative will cost you money upfront, but it will ultimately save you big bucks. No dog is immune to those dangerous little parasites. Even if your dog is strictly an inside pet, they’re still at risk. Once your dog gets fleas, ticks, or heartworms, you’ll spend a lot of money to get rid of them and treat the diseases they pass on.
11. Schedule yearly vet exams.
The best way to avoid costly emergency vet visits is to keep up with routine care. Get your dog’s vaccinations on time and have a vet check them over at least once a year. The sooner you catch a health problem, the better your chances are of saving both your pet and your money.
12. Find the right vet.
Not all vets are equal. You need to find a veterinary professional that you trust to not only take good care of your dog, but to also be honest with you. If you don’t trust your current vet to do what’s best, don’t hesitate to find another.
13. Take advantage of low-cost vet clinics.
A lot of animal shelters offer low-cost veterinary services. When you get your vaccines and routine exams from them, you not only save money, you also support their life-saving animal rescue efforts.
14. Exercise regularly.
A bored and restless dog is a destructive dog. If you’re spending money to replace household items that your dog has chewed up, it’s probably because they need more exercise. Going for a daily walk or run will help keep them from eating your shoes and getting into other kinds of expensive trouble.
15. Use price matching.
Price matching is a dog owner’s best friend when it comes to saving money. Petsmart, Petco, and several other pet supply stores have a price match guarantee that will save you money if you’re willing to do a little extra digging.
16. Set up a subscription for regular purchases.
If you purchase regular supplies like food, treats, and supplements from an online service, they might offer a subscription to save you money. Amazon and Chewy both offer a discount when you set up monthly automatic purchases through their subscription feature.
17. Cycle through toys.
You don’t need to constantly buy new toys to keep your dog excited about playtime. Instead, remove a few toys from the bin and store them in the closet for a few weeks. When your dog starts getting bored with their available toys, bring out the old ones from the closet. It will be just as exciting as if you bought brand new toys.
18. Consider pet insurance.
In certain cases, pet insurance is a great way to save money as a dog owner. You’ll have to pay fees, but having insurance could save you tons of money if your dog gets sick or injured. There are also insurance plans that cover routine exams and vaccinations.
19. Set up a pet budget.
If you have a budget for everything else in your life, why not have one for the dog? A budget will stop you from overspending on things like treats and fun toys.
20. Coordinate with other dog owners.
Dog people need to stick together! If you have friends with dogs, you can work together to save money. Instead of spending big bucks on a pet sitter when you go on vacation, ask your friends to watch your dog. In exchange, you can watch their pets the next time they go out of town.