We went from Spending $1,320/year on Our Dog, to $630. Here’s How:
If you own a dog, you know how quickly the cost of vets visits, food and toys can add up (especially when your dog shreds up tennis balls within 5 minutes like mine). With the average cost of dog ownership being at a whopping $2,889 per year*, it’s no wonder raising our furry companions rival the cost of raising a child. Pet Store chains and major dog brands capitalize on the love we have for man’s best friend, often charging a high premium for things like food, toys, prescriptions and grooming. Fortunately, the pet care market is growing, and there are more ways now than ever to save tons of money on dog essentials. We love our fur baby, but with our recent movements to cut back on spending, we knew dog care costs were something we needed to strategically reduce. So, fast forward a year later, right before our “son’s” second birthday, we decided to add up what we spent the first year of his life, and compare it to the second year, to see how our frugality paid off. Here is the list of the exact cost-saving measures we put in place.
Year 1: $259
Year 2: $179
Savings Approach: Buy online, buy in bulk, and look for coupons
We used to think we were saving money on dog food by buying from Walmart. Our dog goes through a 15.5lb bag of food about once a month, so we would just make monthly runs to Walmart and spend $20/bag. Two things were wrong with this: 1) we had to make regular runs to Walmart which equals gas money, and likely some impulse purchases 2) We assumed Walmart had unbeatable prices, but we didn’t shop around to confirm this. So these are the steps we took to reduce our costs on food: 1) Google the exact dog food brand you want. For us, it is Purina One SmartBlend. Once you’ve typed the name and weight into Google, you’ll see prices come up from the different retailers. Choose the cheapest retailer, and visit their website. 2) Confirm they have free shipping. If they charge for shipping, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. So many retailers are offering free shipping for autoship programs. Why not save yourself some gas money, and the potential temptation of impulse shopping, but avoding a trip to the store. For my particular brand, the lowest prices were Chewy.com and Jet.com. Jet.com offered free shipping. 3) Consider buying bulk. The bigger the bag, the better the savings. For my brand of dog food, the 15.5lb bag was $19.99. The 31lb bag was $29.99. Buying the 31lb bag instead of two 15.5lb bags cuts my overall cost down by 25%. 3) Look for a coupon code. Since I’ve narrowed my choice down to Jet.com, I googled “Jet.com coupon codes”. There is a coupon code for EVERYTHING. So I’m 99.9% sure you’ll find one for your retailer. I found one for 15% off my first three orders. Now that I found the cheapest option, my coupon code, and confirmed the free shipping offer, I decided to choose free Auto-ship, which I could cancel for free at anytime. This will save me time and gas $$. My final cost of dog food for 12 months: $29.99 x 6 months = $179.94 – 15% off first three orders coupon code = – $13.47 + 7.75% Tax = $12.90 Final cost = $179.37/year
Year 1: $65
Year 2: $8
Cost Savings Approach: Buy treats from the Dollar Store
My Fiance and I prefer to give our dog hearty ingredients. We would always get the Natural Value dog treats from Walmart. They are affordable and have 100% real chicken and natural ingredients. We found a simple answer for saving $60 a year on dog treat: The Dollar Tree sells natural dog treats. https://www.dollartree.com/household/pet-supplies/Treats-Rawhides/Natural-Value-Chicken-Wrapped-Sweet-Potato-Dog-Treats-2-oz-Bags/500c549c1039p348109/index.pro The SAME treats we were getting for $8.44 were $1 at the Dollar Tree. No brainer!
Heartworm & Flea Prevention
Year 1: $298
Year 2: $194
Cost Saving Approach: Ask for a written prescription, and buy online
This is an expensive necessity. You go to the vet, and they usually try and sell you the medication right there. The problem is, vets offices often mark up prices 25-30% to make a profit. Instead, ask your vet for a good ol’ fashion written prescription. We learned this the hard way. We let our vet sell us Trifexis for $298/year. Once you get your prescription, find a vet supply online store. I use Lambert’s Vet Supply. These online shops aren’t as alluring as the big 1-800-ped-meds retailers, but they are even better – because their primary business is selling wholesale prescriptions to vets, which means they offer LOW prices. Fortunately, most of these vet wholesalers will sell to individuals as well. Year 1: 12 months of Trifexis from our vet: $298 Year 2: 12 months of Trifexis from Lambert Vet Supply: $194
Year 1: $600
Year 2: $210
Cost Savings Approach: Opt for in-home pet/house sitters, and trade “babysitting” with dog-owning friends
We all know leaving a dog at home alone while we’re on a three-day road trip is a no-no. Many of us rely on dog kennels when heading out of town without Fido. But with the average cost of an overnight stay being between $40-$60, it’s almost like paying for an extra night at a hotel. Our kennel cost us $60, because we added on “play time”. So, in our frugal mindset, we did our research and discovered in-home dog sitting. Dog/house sitting is all the rage these days, and is a cheap alternative to kennels. Paying friends, or family members, or utilizing apps such as Rover, where the average charge for a night of pet care and house sitting is $30. We hired a pet/house sitter and will never go back to boarding. Someone to care for your home and your pet, for less than the kennel?!? Win win! The second part of this approach is simple: find dog-owning friends and neighbors who are willing to trade off babysitting with you. Our neighbor has two dogs, and when we broached the subject with them, they were immediately sold. We have watched their dog two nights now, and they’ve watched ours three nights. For us, it’s kind of fun to have other dogs around our only “child”!
Annual Veterinarian Check-up
Year 1: $100
Year 2: $39
Cost Savings Approach: Look for new customer discounts
If you don’t already have a veterinarian or you aren’t in love with your current one, consider looking around for new vets. Not only will you (hopefully) find the vet of your dreams, but many veterinarian offices offer discounted or free physical exams to first-time customers. This is a great way for the clinics to get new patients and referrals, and a good way for you to meet different clinics and find one you trust! Our first year with our pup, we took him to the highest rated vet, and they offered no first-time discounts. We have since tried two other vets, utilizing new customer offers, and we’ve now found a Veterinarian that our dog loves, and that we trust.