Pet Care On A Budget
Just because you want to learn how to budget and get better control over your finances doesn’t mean you have to cut corners in your pets’ care. I know personally that having even one pet (nevermind the three that I have) can be expensive, especially when you want to get the best food, the best toys, and the best possible experience for your pet. Or, maybe your feelings aren’t quite that extreme, but you of course still want to take good care of your pet.
So let’s budget your pet care, and figure out a more stable pattern of care that will enable you to take better control of your finances.
First and Foremost, Do Basic Care
If you don’t already, make sure that you are completing basic care routines on a regular basis in order to keep the health of your pet better in your control. One of the biggest financial drains on pet owners is costly vet visits when a pet gets sick or hurt. Keeping a close eye on your pet and keeping up with the following will, at baseline, make life easier for you.
- Bathe at appropriate time intervals, and include teeth-brushing as well as general grooming such as nail-trimming and grooming
- Check ears regularly and clean if necessary. Make sure you check all the little nooks and crannies of your pet so you can keep track of any injuries, infections, bugs, etc.
- Bring pet in for yearly check-ups to maintain baseline health and record any changes over time
- Make sure your pet has plenty of engaging activities so they have less of a chance of getting into something they’re not supposed to, as well as potentially getting hurt or sick
Do Your Research On Food
Rather than picking just a big name or any food on the shelf, take some time to research what is available for your pet. I initially started out feeding our dogs Hill’s Science Diet. Now, Hill’s isn’t too bad when it comes to nutritional value for your pet, so it wasn’t a poor choice; however, there were even better ones at my disposal that would ensure that my dogs would get absolutely everything they needed.
I decided to feed them Fromm Family dry food, mostly because I’m a diva when it comes to feeding. My point is, a well-rounded food source makes a very large difference in the general health of your animal. Make sure you choose food that has everything that they need because that will ensure your pet’s health in the long-term. Some ingredients to look for while searching around include:
- High-quality animal proteins (at least 30%)
- Healthy, animal-based fats (about 15%–20%)
- Digestible carbohydrates and fiber
- Essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids
- Guaranteed analysis
- Ingredient statement
- Nutrition adequacy statement
- Feeding guidelines
- Name and address of the manufacturer
- Information required by FDA for health claims
If you are in a very bad way, and at the very least just need food for your animal, then here are some alternative pet food budget options.
- Look for discounted bags of food at pet stores
- Many food pantries for humans also carry pet food
- Ask at your local shelter if they have pet food to spare
- Look online for local nonprofits that distribute pet food to families below the poverty line
Ask For Generic Medicines
Just like attempting to make your own medicines cheaper, you can also make your pets’ cheaper by making sure you are prescribed generic medications whenever you need them for your pet. This could bet the difference between $100 for medication and $1,000. Having a primary care physician for your pet can make this process easier, so I would recommend setting one up immediately if you do not have one.
Get Pets Vaccinated
Again, preventative care is one of the best care options when it comes to your health, as well as your pets’. Make sure you get your pet all the required vaccinations if they do not already have them–this will help avoid big medical bills or continuous ones should your pet contract a preventable disease. If you are below the poverty line, you may be eligible for veterinary services at a local free clinic. Look online, or ask a shelter or animal control officer for information on those.
Reuse Materials To Get Creative With Toys
DIY dog toys and DIY cat toys are a great way to manage costs on the otherwise expensive chew, scratch, or treat toys. Some great examples found online for repurposing old stuff includes:
- Interactive treat feeder using an old plastic bottle. Cut holes in the plastic approximately as big as the treats you put inside, making a small puzzle for your dog or cat or whatever animal to play with and be rewarded by
- T-shirt rope toy. Use multiple shirts or old rags to create a thicker strand, more durable for sharp, little teeth
- Use an old pair of jeans, or buy an old pair of jeans from a consignment shop and tie knots into the legs
- Take chicken or beef broth and freeze them in ice cube trays. Give to your dog or cat as a lickable treat on a hot day
- Keep the stalks of celery, cabbage, etc. for your dog or other animals to chew on
There are a ton, and I mean a ton, of options to choose from when it comes to DIY pet toys. Just google any specification and you can find a nearly endless list of options to choose from.