98. Save $1,000s per year Ė 24 ways to save money on pets

It is a known fact that money is tight these days. With the economy constantly on a downward spiral, it is understandable that most of us barely have the money to get by, much less take care of our pets. Animals are a huge responsibility. Having a pet is practically like raising another individual. The truth is that it can get expensive, but luckily, there are ways around having to spend a fortune on your pet.

Here are the top 24 ways to save money on a pet:

1. Visit a shelter to pick out your pet. Yes, you have to be more selective when visiting a shelter because some of the animals have been mistreated and may not react well to children (or adults). However, if you visit a hand full of shelters, youíll often find many wonderful pets that will fit your needs well. There are a lot of reasons that pets wind up at shelters, and neglect/abuse is just one of them.

2. Fido for free. Why would anyone pay a pet store for a furry friend when there are perfectly wonderful dogs and cats for free (or nearly free) at the Humane Society? Not only are you getting an inexpensive companion, you could be saving a life! But remember before you take one home that pets can be expensive. An average-sized dog can easily cost you $25 per month just in food alone.

3. Shop your pet food. Unless your dog and cat read or watch a lot of TV, they probably wont complain about getting generic food. Read the labels, and you'll find that name brand pet food often has the exact ingredients at twice the price! Buying in bulk could also be a good idea, and don't forget to try online shopping too. You might be able to save up to 50% at websites like petsmart.com or amazon.com. Instead of buying the usual, high dollar, brand name pet food, opt for the store brand. Most store brands contain the same amount of nutrients that the expensive name brands do and usually can cost up to $15.00 less. If you look at that from a bi-weekly stand point, that is $30.00 a month. Over the period of a year, that is $360.00.
You can also decide to give your pet leftovers of food you eat yourself, like fish, meat, spaghetti-sauce for cats. This saves you a lot of money on pet food.

4. Donít skimp on food. A fifty pound bag of Olí Roy might be a cheap way to feed the pet, but it will result in long-term health issues that will be expensive to treat. Instead, research what kinds of food are most appropriate for your pet and be willing to spend a little more to get good food. This will help to keep your pet healthier, happier, and active for a lot longer. One of my friends doesnít even feed her dog traditional ďdog food,Ē but has studied what raw foods their diet should consist of and feeds the dog those items.

5. Buy that food in bulk. Once you figure out the best food for your pet, donít hesitate to buy it in bulk and store it somewhere out of the petís reach. Depending on what you choose as the optimum food, you may find it at your local warehouse store or you may find a bulk seller in your area.

6. Check Craigslist for supplies. Need a pet carrier, a leash, or a food bowl? People on Craigslist are often selling this stuff for a pittance (and sometimes itís free on freecycle). When you need reusable supplies like this, heading straight to the store is a sure way to spend more than you probably need to.

7. Make your own pet toys. Pets are like babies. They're more likely to enjoy the box the toy came in than the toy itself. You've got plenty of interesting, entertaining and chewable items lying around the house already. You can grow catnip or find it cheap at herb stores.

8. Use free or discounted pet services. Odds are you're already paying taxes to subsidize some basic pet health services. Call your local Humane society or county facility and ask about discounted inoculations or other services.

9. Get your pet neutered. It may seem like an expensive option in the beginning, but getting your pet neutered can save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Luckily, many animal shelters do this for free.

10. Buy in bulk. All dogs have to take heartworm medication on a monthly basis in order to protect them from developing heartworms. A lot of times, you can actually save money buy purchasing these medications in bulk instead of individually.

11. Purchase a de-worming kit. Instead of taking your pet to be professionally wormed, purchase a de-worming kit from your local pet store and do it yourself. You will most likely save hundreds of dollars per year by taking this route.

12. Do regular teeth cleanings. Ideally, cats and dogs need regular teeth cleanings. Instead of purchasing expensive pet toothpaste, try mixing baking soda with a little bit of water together to clean your pet's teeth, or use regular (basic) toothpaste.

13. There are cheaper pets. If you are wanting to purchase a pet, but do not have enough money for an expensive one, then you may have to purchase something a bit less costly like a small gold fish, duck, rabbit, or mixed breed pup. Taking care of a cat is cheaper than a dog (you don't need to go walking every day)

14. Make use of your old blankets and sheets when it comes to bedding for your pet. Most beds and fancy pet blankets can cost up to $50.00 or more depending on the size of your pet. They won't even know the difference!

15. Groom your pet at home, instead of taking him out for a professional grooming, which can add up to hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Just think of what you'll be saving. You may even want to ask around to see if any of your friends or family members will groom your pet for free to save you the labor. Groom the pet yourself. Taking your pet to a pet salon might be an easy way to get the pet clean, but almost everything done there can be done quite quickly at home and a lot cheaper. Donít be afraid to get your hands dirty and clean your pet yourself.

16. Treat simple things, like fleas, ticks, and heartworm, yourself. This involves understanding your petís health (the tips above), but if youíve actually invested the time to know how to properly care for the pet, then youíll know what simple ailments you can treat yourself instead of paying a vet to treat. Itís much less expensive to order the treatment yourself than to consult a vet for the most common ailments.

17. Know their routine. Pay attention to your pet. If the petís routine starts to change, thatís a sign that thereís some sort of medical issue coming down the pipe. If you notice it now, itís often easy to treat with a dietary change or something else thatís simple. If you wait until itís disastrous, it can be very expensive.

18. Hit the library or search on the internet about your pet. If you have a new pet, learn about it. Learn what things it needs. Learn about some of the basics of caring for that pet, as well as signs for the most common ailments and how to treat them. Learn how to train your pet in the skills that it will need Ė and put in the time to train the pet yourself.

19. When it comes to vaccinations, you can check in with your local animal shelter to see when they will be performing these services free or at discounted prices.

20. Knit their sweaters yourself. As those cold winter months approach, many of us want to dress our pets up in cute little sweaters and other decorative outfits to keep them warm. To save money, a better alternative would be to knit their sweaters yourself, or only shop for pet sweaters at discount stores or online to find the best prices.

21. Keep the water/milk bowl full. If you notice the water/milk bowl for your pet (dog/cat) is low, fill it, and keep an eye on the bowl throughout the day. Appropriate amounts of water/milk is perhaps the best insurance for a petís long term health. The exception to this is when youíre housetraining a puppy, in which case you need to stick to a strict watering schedule. Too much water for a puppy can result in accidents and a big setback in training.

22. Show the pet love. The best thing you can do for any pet, however, is to show the pet love. Just like humans, most pets thrive on being loved by others. So, go ahead and give that big, slobbery dog a vigorous petting and stroke the cat until it begins to purr.

23. Consider pet health insurance. It works in much the same way as it does for people, there's generally a deductible, a copay or both, and forms to be filled out.

24. More is less good when it comes to stuffing your pet with vittles. Overfeeding can create health problems.

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