Americans spend a fortune on their dogs. Over $60 billion per year to be precise. We fall prey to well marketed products all the time. Dog products are increasingly aimed at satisfying the complex comforts and tastes of dog owners rather than the basic needs of the dog.
It’s easy to lose sight of what your dog needs versus what you, as a human, like the look of. That’s exactly what manufacturers want – to seduce you with marketing. Take a step back. Think about what you’re buying and why, and you’ll probably find that you can make some huge savings on many dog supplies, vet and care bills, and other costs.
Dogs don't need the fanciest products. You'll likely end up spending hundreds of dollars on a dog bed that looks like a mini version of your sofa just to find that your dog would prefer to lounge in your recliner or on your bed with you.
As long as the pet products you buy are safe, healthy and meet your pup's needs, you don't need to go overboard buying the hottest trends or most adorable products.
19 Tips On How to Save and Budget for General Dog Costs
Managing Your Money
1 Work out your budget
Make a list of all your weekly or monthly dog related expenses and work out which are essential and non-essential. Next, look at whether you can reduce the cost of each expense and by how much.
This will give you a baseline for how much money you need to put aside for dog care each month. Work out what you can afford and where savings can be made. Depending on how often you get paid – weekly, bi-weekly, monthly – you can plan to set aside a certain amount each pay period for dog-related expenses.
2 Set up a Fido Fund
Once you have your budget you can set up a “Fido Fund” to pay for routine care and unexpected expenses. Creating a buffer fund makes it easy to track where your money is going and how much spare you have each month. Planned spending is usually less costly than un-managed or impulse spending too.
Saving On Dog Supplies
3 Cut the cost of poop
Have you ever stopped to think how many hundreds of plastic poo bags you get through each year? Why buy them when you can improvise for free? Cut up and use grocery bags or your Sunday New Your Times magazine. You’ll be doing your bit for the environment as well as saving money.
4 Washable training pads
Potty training pads aren’t cheap. Buying washable pads is far more cost effective than buying disposables. House training your pup as soon as possible will cut costs too.
5 Buy second-hand
Online retailers that sell second-hand merchandise, such as Ebay or Amazon, are flooded with ‘gently used’ dog supplies such as bowls, beds, collars, leashes and crates. Try your local charity shop too, and remember that your dog’s food and water bowls don’t have to come from a pet store. Look out for second-hand heavy based bowls that were designed for kitchen or dining use.
6 Make your own bed
Fido doesn’t care about the color, pattern or style of his bed. All he’s interested in is comfort. So if you want to live with your pets on a budget, then get creative.
There are hundreds of online DIY dog bed tutorials to choose from, including the simple no-sew bed below. If you fancy getting creative and making an object of beauty, then get some ideas from around the internet.
Saving On Dog Treats
7 Buy from the butcher
If you buy meat from your local butcher shop they will probably keep you stocked up with free bones. At $2 a pound, fresh chicken liver is a cheap treat option too. Serve it raw or dehydrate it for a quick and healthy snack.
8 Make your own jerky treats
Store bought jerky treats are expensive. You can make your own for a fraction of the price. Buy cheap meat or sweet potatoes, cut into thin slices and bake at 145° Fahrenheit for six hours. Simple!
MORE RECIPES HERE: Homemade Dog Food & Treats Recipes
Saving On Dog-Related House Cleaning Supplies
9 Eliminate muddy feet
Do you feel as though you spend your life washing ground in mud from your carpets, upholstery and soft furnishings? A simple routine of wiping your dog’s paws before he enters the house can save you time and cleaning costs.
10 Make your own household cleaning products
Owning a dog can be a dirty business. Keep cleaning costs down and be kinder to the environment by making your own cleaning products. Be sure to make cleaning products that are effective, but also safe for your pets.
Saving Money On Dog Food
11 More is less
Opt for a manufacturer that offers bulk bags or breeder bags. You can often get further discounts online if you buy multiple bulk bags and reward points for regular purchases. Shipping is usually free for larger orders too.
12 Buy from Amazon
You can buy pretty much any brand and type of dog food on Amazon and often for cheaper than elsewhere. Amazon also has the advantage of customer reviews, so you can get a feel for the quality and suitability of the food.
If you often shop on Amazon, you can subscribe to Amazon Prime. For just $99/year you'll be able to receive 2-day shipping on a lot of products and get a priority access to deals and discounts. Check to see if the dog food brand you buy is eligible before signing up. If so, you could save hundreds in shipping costs over the course of the year.
13 Buy premium
Spending more per bag of dog food generally leads to savings. This doesn't mean to simply buy any expensive dog food brand; choose quality stuff with a good cost for value ratio. Premium pet food has a higher protein content than cheaper brands, so you dog doesn't need to eat as much.
High quality premium dog food brands usually contain all of the added supplements that your dog needs, too. You don’t have to purchase them separately and can potentially save not only on pet supplements, but also on dog health costs associated with feeding your pooch the right diet.
14 Prepare your own
It may take a little time, but preparing your own food from fresh ingredients can work out a lot cheaper and healthier than bought food. It’s tastier for your dog and free of preservatives and additives.
If you have to add a vitamin and mineral supplement, it’s still a cheaper option. There are plenty of books and online dog food recipes and guidance to help you get started. Check with your vet first before changing your dog’s feeding regime.
15 Measure it
Get into the habit of measuring your dog’s food portions. Overfeeding not only costs you more than necessary but can also lead to weight problems and vet visits.
FURTHER READING: Where's the Best Place To Buy Cheap Dog Supplies?
Saving Money On Dog Care When You're Away
16 Do it yourself
When you first bought your dog, did you look forward to walking him every day? What changed? It’s not only great exercise for both of you, but fantastic bonding time as well.
Consider whether you can organize your life so that you don’t need to pay a dog walker. If they’re old enough, how about asking your son or daughter to do it in exchange for a little pocket money? It’s a great way to teach them the responsibilities of pet ownership and the value of money too!
17 Ask a friend or family member
- The dog owning friend
If you have a local friend that walks their dog anyway, then perhaps they wouldn’t mind walking yours at the same time. You could return the favor when they need it too.
- The wannabe dog owning friend
Most of us have friends who’d love to own a dog but can’t for whatever reason. Invite them to play a role in your dog’s life by taking him out for walks.
18 Pet sitter
Boarding kennels are costly, and the experience can be very unsettling for some dogs. Have you considered hiring a pet sitter instead? It can be up to 40% cheaper. Look out for local ads or search websites like DogVacay or Rover.
There are many benefits to using a pet sitter – it’s considerably cheaper than boarding, generally less stressful for your dog, and it gives you eyes and ears in your home while you’re away. For more, read this interview with a pet sitter we've done before.
19 Exchange favors
Your friends with dogs will face the pet sitting dilemma too. See if you can help each other out and look after each other’s dogs when the need arises.
READ NEXT: 25 Most Affordable Low-Cost Dog Breeds