How to Save More as a Pet Owner

If you own a pet, you know just how expensive they can be. From necessities like food, vet visits, and basic supplies to more extravagant splurges on treats, toys, and even cute outfits for them to wear, you may find that more and more of your paycheck is going to your animal.

However, you can still get them everything they need, and more, without overextending your budget. While the main focus of our list is dog owners, many of the tips apply to other kinds of pets as well.

Read on to learn how to save in big ways and small!


1. Buy supplies in bulk

When shopping for food, treats, medications, and other necessities, buying in bulk will always save you money. It costs more up front, but will be less expensive in the long run and you’ll always have what you need on hand.


2. Make your own dog toys

Commercial dog toys from Petco or Amazon can cost over $20 a piece! Many breeds love to chew and destroy toys, especially large breeds who tend to have bigger mouths and jaw strength. Bigger breeds also require bigger (read: more expensive) toys, so one way to cut costs is making your own with materials you already have at home.


3. Make your own dog treats

Making dog treats at home instead of buying them from a store is a great way to save money and get creative in the kitchen! There are many recipes you can choose from. Frozen apple slices covered in Greek yogurt is a great place to start.


4. Bathe your dog yourself

Put down your wallet and pick up your hose! Baths just got more exciting, and more cost-efficient. Either an indoor tub or outdoor kiddie pool plus some doggie shampoo will do the trick!


5. Budget for regular vet visits

If your pet seems healthy, it can be tempting to skip their yearly wellness exam, and the bill that comes with it. However, setting money aside for these regular checkups can save you cash in the long run by detecting potential problems early on.


6. Trim your dog’s nails yourself

Invest in a solid pair of nail clippers and spend the money you’ve been dropping at the groomer. Just make sure to have styptic powder on hand in case you accidentally cut the quick.


7. Take your dog with you when you travel

When it’s time to plan a vacation again, try to make it a pet-friendly one! There might be added costs for deposits at hotels or Airbnbs, but these are certainly cheaper than paying to board your pet at a kennel.


8. Skip the professional trainer

Some dogs with serious behavioral issues need the expertise of a professional; in most cases, though, you can tackle this yourself by reading books, articles, and watching free videos on the internet.


9. Adopt, don’t shop

If you are thinking of getting a new dog, check the shelters before you start researching breeders! Shelter dogs come with a much more affordable price tag than purebred dogs, and tend to have fewer expensive health issues.


10. Exercise your dog every day

Although exercise might not seem like it has to do with saving money, in reality it has everything to do with frugality. Keeping your dog physically active and at a healthy weight means they’ll be at lower risk for expensive health problems later in life.

11. Take a look at your dog food label

Just because you buy the most expensive dog food doesn’t mean it is the best for your dog. Instead of measuring quality by price, look for recipes with the least amount of filler, and that have a protein content of at least 20%.

12. Stay up to date on vaccines

Like our other veterinary-based tips, making sure your pet is up to date on their vaccines and parasite prevention will help avoid major vet costs from treating a preventable illness.


13. Brush your dog’s teeth yourself

Think about it: you brush your teeth twice a day — your dog needs their teeth cleaned too! Keeping up with daily oral hygiene can help you avoid costly vet visits for dental care.


14. Shop smarter

It can be tempting to do all of your shopping for supplies in one place. But by comparing prices between a number of stores and even looking for gently used items on Facebook Marketplace, you can save big on supplies.


15. Pet-proof your home

Taking simple steps to make sure your home is safe for your dog can go a long way in eliminating costly emergency vet bills. Make sure all chemicals are secured away from your pet, and small items they could easily choke on are inaccessible.


16. Stop buying poop bags

Poop bags are a needless expense you’re spending money on. We’re not saying don’t clean up after your dog — just use the plastic grocery bags you surely have lying around the house.


17. Consider buying pet insurance

You wouldn’t want you or one of your human family members to go without health insurance—why would you have your pet go uncovered? As with all forms of insurance, you hope you never need it, but in the event of an emergency, it can seriously save your bank account.


18. Spay/neuter your dog

Sterilizing your dog eliminates the possibility that they will produce expensive puppies, and additionally, usually provides health benefits, like reducing the likelihood of certain cancers.


19. Invest in flea and tick prevention

There are a number of affordable flea and tick preventatives on the market, from chewables to collars. By preventing flea infestations before they start, you’ll save on vet bills, shampoos, and medication.


20. Look for discounted vet services

Vet bills are usually the most expensive part of having a pet. Some colleges and universities with veterinary programs offer reduced fees for letting students examine and in some cases, treat your pet.


Owning a dog is a serious financial commitment, but it doesn’t have to break the bank! Get the most out of your dollars while still giving your pup everything they need.



Babs is Lead Content Strategist and financial guru. She loves exploring fresh ways to save more and enjoy life on a budget! When she’s not writing, you’ll find her binge-watching musicals, reading in the (sporadic) Chicago sunshine and discovering great new places to eat. Accio, tacos! 

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