Top 10 Ways to Save on Pet Care

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This post is brought to you as a part of the Dog Days of Summer Campaign, hosted by the folks at dog training collars. We hope you, and the animals close to your heart, have a healthy summer!

Pet CareAccording to a recent article in USA Today, Americans spent approximately $50.8 billion on their pets last year, up from $10.1 billion just four years earlier. That's a lot of money for Max or Fluffy, but still nothing compared to the unconditional love they shell out for you every day.

As the proud owner of one adorable terrier, I'm no stranger to the rising cost of pet care. In addition to frequent exercise and annual check-ups, my husband and I save hundreds of dollars on pet care by adopting the following savvy strategies.

1. Create an Emergency Fund

There are at least nine reasons for an emergency fund, according to Kiplinger, including the ability to offset a costly vet bill should your beloved animal need expensive treatment. When my dog was just a pup, she was choked by another dog during a bout of aggressive play and -- $1,700 later -- we had a very tired but recovering pooch. Our savings account kept this traumatic experience from creating a financial hardship.

2. Don't Skimp on Food

Food is likely the most expensive necessity next to vet visits, but that doesn't mean you should opt for low price over quality. By purchasing healthy food, you're enhancing your pet's quality of life and ultimately saving yourself from costly vet bills down the road. Purchase discount gift cards to PetSmart and other pet-related stores to nab some additional savings.

3. Consider Pet Insurance

If you're the type of pet owner who will spare no expense for veterinary care, consider signing up for pet insurance. The number of pet insurance carriers has increased significantly from just ten years ago, and most offer several levels of coverage. Visit PetInsuranceComparison.org for information on available policies, reviews and questions to ask providers.

4. Take Advantage of Clinics

Some veterinary practices offer free clinics one or two times a year, waiving appointment fees that compound the cost of annual visits. My husband and I always schedule check-ups and vaccinations during these times. If your vet doesn't offer this service, check with your local Humane Society or animal-control unit for recommendations.

5. Research Your Options

When facing a hefty vet bill, you might assume your only option is to throw down a credit card and pay off the expense over time. However, there are other sources for financial aid, including state programs and breed-specific organizations. Consult the Humane Society for more information.

6. Buy Discount

I shop discount retailers like TJMaxx and Ross for clothes and housewares, and always peruse their pet-care aisles for deals. I've found great pet beds, bowls and toys for much less than pet-store prices, though I avoid treats and food items since I'm not familiar with the brands. Ultimately, new pet owners can score serious savings by stocking up on discount supplies.

7. Be Loyal

PetSmart and PetCo each have free loyalty programs that offer discounts and, in the case of PetCo, 5% cash back on purchases. You should also sign up to receive email notifications about upcoming sales and exclusive discounts, and stock up during these specials to tide you over until the next promotion.

8. Order Meds Online

Most pet owners know medications purchased directly from the vet come with a hefty price tag. Unless it's an emergency, request the prescription information and shop online at sites like 1800PetMeds.com. I save 34% on our dog's heart worm medication by ordering online and using the generic alternative.

9. Fix for Less

Neutering or spaying your pet is crucial to avoiding the exponential expense of caring for a litter down the road. The average cost of the service from your local vet is between $200 and $300, but many organizations offer this service for less to curb the number of homeless animals. Consult ASPCA's Low Cost Spay/Neuter Programs page to find a provider near you.

10. DIY

Though I wouldn't attempt to clean a cat's teeth, there are several services you can administer at home to save money. Brushing, ear cleaning and nail clipping are just a few necessities you can likely handle without the assistance of a professional. In fact, your vet will happily share with you the best techniques for at-home care, as they'd much prefer to spend time on more specialized services.

I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!

Melissa
Melissa @ Mommy Living the Life of Riley!
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