Whether your special companion is a cockatoo or a cocker spaniel, you’ll do whatever it takes to keep them healthy and happy. Unfortunately, your dedication can put stress on a tight budget and leave you unsure of how to cut corners when it comes to providing for the needs of a living creature. Here are a few options that spare you from having to choose between the health of your bank balance and that of your animal friend.
Spay or Neuter
This may sound like another expense, but you’ll actually save money in the long run by preventing your pet from breeding. Not only will you avoid the veterinary and supply costs associated with safely ushering a new litter of critters into the world, you will also add to your animal’s safety and lifespan. Un-neutered dogs and cats are much more likely to run away or fight, and they also cause expensive clean-up chores by marking their territory. Most cities offer low-cost spay and neuter clinics, which you can learn about from your local ASPCA.
Skip the Clothes
Despite what the pet clothing industry would like you to believe, naked pets are OK. Really. Along those same lines, a big thrift-store pillow or an old folded blanket will serve beautifully as a pet bed for a fraction of the cost of a brand-name monogrammed one. Regardless of what you buy, you know your pet will end up sleeping on your bed anyway.
Do (Most of) Your Own Grooming
It’s easier to budget for help with tricky tasks, like nail clipping, if you handle the basic stuff yourself. Visit your local pet store and pick up simple shampoo and brushes. Set a budget so you don’t end up with a cartload of excess products, and then come home and roll up your sleeves. Think of it as a bonding experience.
Buy Pet Insurance
Veterinary bills often bring financial stress at a time when you’re already overwhelmed with worry. If your pet is in good health, most financial advisers suggest buying a basic high-deductible pet insurance plan to protect you against the extreme costs of an emergency. Shop around before buying any pet insurance policy, and ask your vet for suggestions. Additionally, put $10 or $20 aside each month to cover the cost of vaccinations and other routine clinic visits so your budget never has to take a big hit.
Pet care tends to be improvisational, so you’ll come up with more money-saving methods of your own. The key is to stay focused on your animal’s true needs rather than on the consumer messages from the pet products industry.