Being a dog owner can take its toll on your wallet. Having a budget not just for your family but a separate one for your pet can help you plan. Finding ways how to save as a pet owner on a variety of dog expenses may be a challenge, but that’s what stretches your dollar even further.
As lovely as dogs are, caring for a pet will be costly. Pet expenses vary, but reports show that owning a dog in America will cost you about $1,300 the first year, and anywhere from $400 to $700 every year after that. Depending on the breed, the total cost over the pet’s lifetime will be anywhere from $27,000 to $42,500, according to CNBC.
Because we all need this, here are some ways you can save and cut down on these pet expenses. For a full list of tips and tricks with links, scroll down past the infographic.
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81 Way to Save Money on Dog Expenses
Here’s a full list of all the tips we’ve got on how you can save on all types of dog expenses: dog grooming and training services, dog food and treats, dog grooming and training supplies, veterinary bills and general dog care. If you have any other tips for pet owners, please share those below in the comments and we’ll add them here!
Dog Grooming Expenses
1. Do it yourself
Learn the skills to do the job yourself instead of paying a groomer. Internet is full of useful and most importantly free information. Here’s a free dog grooming course that covers literally everything you’d ever need to know about doing it yourself.
2. Get a low-cost cut
Go for a simple and functional cut. More complex cuts will cost more, either at the groomer or even when doing them yourself.
3. Bathe your dog
Roll your sleeves up and work up a lather. No need to be taking your pooch to a SPA – you can do all the work yourself, and it can even be fun.
4. Hit up the coupon sites
Sites like Groupon and RetailMeNot offer good discounts. They always have plenty of dog grooming supplies related sales and offers.
5. Brush your dog daily
Regular brushing can extend the time between visits to the groomer so you spend less money and even time in the long-run.
6. Loyalty discounts
Many pet grooming salons offer discounts and free services for regular visits. Make sure to talk to your groomer about this.
7. Ditch the fancy stuff
Stick to the ‘no frills’ 8-week rule to cut grooming costs in half. While many other factors can impact this, most dogs that do not require intensive grooming, you can do the full grooming sessions every 8 weeks or so (as long as you care for them otherwise).
8. Choose a short clip
Consider going for a doggy crew cut. It’s the least expensive cut you can get at the groomer’s, and it also takes the least amount of time to do. Your dog may also appreciate it.
9. Discounted services
There are several ways to get it, but the most popular is that you can save up to 30% by letting a student dog groomer practice on your dog.
10. Ask for vouchers as presents
Like hairdressers, pet salons sell treatment gift vouchers. Develop a good relationship with your groomer and you may get them for free or a hefty discount. Alternatively, ask your friends and family for these as presents.
11. Get your Fido ready
Reduce the time at a groomer’s by giving your dog a bath and brush beforehand. Let your dog groomer know that most of the heavy lifting has already been done.
12. Ask about your options
Always ask for a price list from the groomer before you come in. Consider what you can do yourself and what needs to be done by a professional. When you come in, let them know exactly what you need and what you don’t need.
General Dog Care Expenses
13. Educate yourself in the matter
Learn as much as you can about routine pet health care, how much things cost, what products and services are overpriced and which ones are worth paying for. This will cost you a little more in time, but save you a ton of cash in the long run.
14. Get creative
When you need to mentally stimulate your pooch, instead of buying expensive things, why not create your own fun and games using household items?
15. Create a doggy budget
Budgeting is personal finance 101, so don’t delay on this. Just like you have a budget (or at least you should) for how much you spend on yourself and your family, have the exact same thing for your pet. Do the math and see where you can save.
16. Put some money aside
It’s part of the smart budgeting as a pet owner – having a “Fido Fund” will provide you with a buffer when you need it, whether for vet bills, dog supplies or other necessities.
17. Adopt the right dog for your lifestyle and budget
Research breeds and their costs before you adopt one. Not all dogs are good for every pet owner, and picking the wrong breed may cost you extra in time, money and even stress. Choose a dog right for your lifestyle and both of you be that much happier (and richer).
18. Be selective with doggy supplements
Get only the essentials. Just like with human vitamins and health products, many of known dog supplements are useless and are simply a waste of money. See which supplements vets recommend and consider whether it fits your dog.
Dog Health Expenses
19. Prevention is cheaper (and better) than cure
Do what’s possible on a routine basis to prevent your dog from serious health problems. If you spend enough time reading and educating yourself about possible dog health problems and how to prevent them, you can save a ton of money long term.
20. Dog-proof your house
Puppies and stressed dogs get into all sorts of trouble. Make sure your home is ready for a dog. Properly puppy-proofed house will save you cash because you won’t have ruined furniture and belongings, and your dog won’t hurt or injure himself, costing in vet bills.
21. Dog care apps and other technology
Smartphone apps have made dog care easier than ever. There are a ton of great pet apps that are worth taking a look at, some of which are specifically designed to save you money.
Dog Training Expenses
22. Don’t have the trainer come to you
It’s more expensive to have a dog trainer come to your home. Instead, research dog training schools and drop off your dog there for a session.
23. Put it into practice immediately
You’ll achieve dog training goals much faster, so you’ll pay less. Just like you had to do back in school, pay attention to what the professional dog trainer does and try to imitate the same at home, thereby speeding up the training process with your pooch.
24. Understand your dog
The more you can work with your dog in his language, the quicker the training will be. Understanding dog’s body language can be simple when you know what to look for.
25. Only use a dog trainer for the tough stuff
Dog trainers aren’t always essential, and a lot of the things you can teach the Fido by yourself. At the very least, reduce the cost of dog training when you lay the foundations in the very beginning.
26. Look for free or low-cost dog training
Your local animal shelter probably runs low cost or free lessons. If the closest one doesn’t, call around and see if any other ones a little further away do. It’s common for shelters to have these dog training classes, and whenever they have free spots, they’ll let you know.
27. Exercise, exercise, exercise
The best dog is a tired dog. Plenty of exercise will prevent a ton of health problems and behavioral issues, saving you money both on dog training classes and vet bills.
28. Don’t buy fancy gizmos
Buy only the most essential stuff for training your dog. There’s no reason to pick the most expensive dog training supplies because dogs don’t recognize the value. Some of their favorite toys cost below $3 a piece, for example.
29. Attend a group class
One on one training will always be expensive, but group dog training sessions are cheaper and give your dog a chance to socialize; it’s a win-win.
30. Shop around for a trainer carefully
Take time, compare rates and discuss your budget and requirements. Sites like Yelp and Google Reviews (as well as many others) will give you an idea what other pet owners are paying and whether they think it’s worth it.
31. Book in bundles for 15-20% saving
Trainers usually offer a discount for bulk class bookings. Once you’ve tried one session and happy with that particular dog trainer’s method, ask about possible savings.
32. Read, watch and learn
The internet is full of free resources – spend some time reading and watching to teach yourself, not just your dog. Get some cheap dog training books that will show you most of the tricks you can teach your Fido, and you won’t even have a reason to go to a trainer.
33. Start ‘em young
Get your puppy into good habits right off the bat. Young puppies are easier and quicker to train, and everything they learn stays with them for the rest of their lives. You’ll save a bundle in dog training expenses.
Dog Grooming Supplies Expenses
34. Shop online first
Most cheap dog grooming supplies can be found online, not in pet stores. Huge retailers like Amazon can afford to drop their prices as low as possible, saving you plenty of cash.
35. Buy the best you can afford
Short-term gains generally mean long-term expenses. While it may seem like you’re saving right now, buying the same dog brush over and over again because it breaks or stops doing its job properly will cost you a lot more. Invest in quality stuff that lasts.
36. Search for discounts online
Tons of sites have massive lists of discounts on pet supplies. Amazon has doggy deals page which they update several times per day. Don’t buy things you don’t need and only seek out stuff that you would’ve bought anyway.
37. Pool resources
Frugal people are always stronger together! See if your dog owner friends or family members want to share the cost with you, and together you can save more.
38. Buy second-hand
You can make some huge savings by buying reconditioned tools and plenty of dog grooming supplies. Search for them on sites like Craigslist. Amazon also has a page called Warehouse Deals where they sell refurbished pet supplies for big discounts.
39. Trawl the internet for deals
Other than Amazon’s Warehouse or Deals page, plenty of other pet supplies online stores have sales and discounts happening daily (e.g. PetSmart, Chewy, Dog.com). Spend some time finding them and bookmark those pages for daily browsing.
40. Do your research
Impulse buying can be costly. When you search for dog grooming supplies, put them in your cart but don’t buy right away. Have a 24-48hr cool off period where you read more reviews about these doggy products and consider whether you really need them.
41. Stock up on baking soda
Baking soda, just like apple cider vinegar, is one of the pet owners’ secret weapons. It makes dog shampoos and toothpastes last longer among other benefits. Here are some ideas for how you can use baking soda as a pet owner.
42. Reward schemes at stores
Clock up points and pocket the savings. Make a list of all pet stores, whether local brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers, and make sure to enroll to their rewards programs.
43. Pay with free gift cards
Similar to the above point, you can earn free gift cards when you shop online. Earn those points and pay attention to this when shopping online.
There are people out there giving away unwanted pet equipment, so go get it. Sites like Craigstlist is a good place to start. Nextdoor will often have people from around your neighborhood giving up stuff for free.
45. Clearance sites
Overstocked items can come with massive discounts. Check out all clearance sites and keep an eye on them every few days by bookmarking those pages. For example, here’s a PetSmart Clearance Page and Dr Foster & Smith Clearance Page (there’s a lot more).
Dog Training Supplies Expenses
46. Buy new on Amazon or eBay
Items are generally cheaper at huge online retailers like Amazon or even eBay, but other similar online stores will also offer dog training supplies at better prices than you can find in your local pet stores.
47. Buy the best you can afford
Same as with dog grooming supplies, don’t risk spending more because the harness rubs or your lead broke. Research the best dog harness that other pet owners found will last a long time and invest in that. One dog harness can last your dog’s whole lifetime.
48. Free tutorial videos
There are hundreds of great dog training tutorials on YouTube as well as tips how to make your own dog training equipment, how to use it to save money and more. Simply search for whatever keywords you can think of; there’s surely a video made of that already.
49. Earn points
Look for stores that offer a reward scheme or loyalty card, but you know this already. It’s all about earning those points and getting rewarded for shopping.
50. Due diligence
You won’t always get it right the first time, but you’ll save yourself money if you do. Plenty of research will save you money in the long run.
51. Buy second-hand
Buy ‘nearly new’ training leads, dog collars and harnesses on eBay or Craigslist among other sites. eBay in particular can be great if you know how to find those cheap deals and auctions, and bid smart.
52. Borrow or trade
Try before you buy, if that’s an option. Ask your family members or friends who are dog owners to use their harness, collar, lead or whatever other dog training tool you’re considering buying. It may or may not work for your Fido.
53. Stuff should grow with your pup
Think ahead if you have a young puppy. This may not apply to all things, but if you have a young puppy, remember that they’ll grow fast so if possible, buy slightly over-sized things (as long as it’s safe for the dog, of course).
54. Homemade dog treats
Treats are the essential part of the whole dog training process. Cut your costs in half by making your own training dog treats. We have plenty of dog treats recipes with videos.
55. Pet coupon codes
Sites like DoggyLoot and Coupaw offer great deals on dog training supplies among other pet products. Scan them, but don’t buy unless you really need it.
56. Free products in exchange for a review
There is a lot of sites that give away free dog food, grooming and training supplies for a review – see if you can get in on this. Here’s a large list of those sites.
57. Buy tough toys
Get tough, durable dog toys that will take a beating. Dog training can take a while so quality dog toys that last, even if they’re a little more expensive at the time of purchase, will save you money in the long run.
58. Vet promotions
Many veterinary clinics try to get attention buy coming up with different discount deals, coupons and promotions. Keep an eye out for those vet clinic promotions on routine treatments and jump on them when you need something.
59. Shop around for a vet and be loyal
Always do your due diligence, compare the cost of vet services, and once you find the vet that you like and can afford, stay with that vet clinic. Your loyalty may be rewarded with occasional free service, discounted products and more.
60. Pet insurance plan
It can reduce your costs and commit you to routine check-ups that save you on vet bills over a long time period. It’s important to pick the right pet insurance plan that actually saves you rather than loses money. Here are pet insurance tips to follow for this.
61. Use a veterinary college
Ask local veterinary college if they offer discounted treatments. It’s a very popular way among pet owners to save on routine veterinary care.
62. Not-for-profit services and dog charities
ASPCA, Humane Society or your local rescue shelter will offer discounted services. They never publish this on their websites, so call them up to ask about it.
Dog Medication Expenses
63. Be smart with prescriptions
Ask your vet for a generic prescription. There are plenty of similar or even identical dog medicines that can be bought for half the price.
64. Consider a pet-safe alternative
Some human medications are cheaper than pet medication and can be completely safe for your dog. Ask your veterinarian about these as an alternative – an honest vet who understands your need to save money will always provide some ideas.
65. Shop around for other alternatives
Don’t head down to your local pharmacy. Open Google and compare prices. There are plenty of places and ways to buy cheap pet meds online and save a bunch of cash.
66. Drug cards
Get a free drug card and save up to 75%. For example, here’s a National Drug Card but there are other similar options, so do your own research on this.
Last Few Clever Budgeting Tips
67. Don’t buy poop bags
While dog poop bags are a very convenient way to pick up after your pooch, when you’re strapped for cash you can cut up and use grocery bags instead as a way to recycle them. Remember that plastic grocery bags aren’t environmentally friendly though.
68. Use washable training pads
Multi-use ones are more cost effective than disposables pads, even though the disposable ones are much easier and convenient to use. When trying to save money on dogs, find the most absorbent puppy pee pads that can be reused and get those instead.
69. Make your own bed
You’d be surprised how much you can save by making your own quality and sturdy dog bed, and how easy it can be. There’s plenty of good videos on YouTube. Watch those or read one of these 7 DIY dog bed tutorials and get going.
70. Buy from the butcher
But only certain kids of meat, because some others may be more expensive. Organ meat is often the best choice to buy for your dog at the butcher’s. For example, at $2 a pound, fresh chicken liver is a cheap treat option.
71. Make your own jerky treats
It’s quick and easy, too. Buy cheap meat, cut into thin slices and bake at 145° F for six hours. Your dog will love these nutritious, low calorie and protein-rich treats.
72. Eliminate muddy feet
You’d be surprised how a simple routine of wiping your dog’s paws can save on cleaning costs, time and effort (which can be used elsewhere).
73. DIY household cleaning products
It’s always easy to spend top dollar on well-advertising “amazingly awesome” cleaning supplies with muscular men on their logo, but homemade DIY cleaners are much cheaper and easier to make than you think. And they work just as well!
74. More is less
Once again, if you have a proper way to store your pet’s kibble, then choose dog food companies that offer bulk bags – those can save you up to 50% in costs. Here are 25 more ideas on how to save on dog food buying.
75. Premium may be cheaper long-term
Not all expensive dog food is worth the top dollar, but some high quality dog food brands will have more protein and vitamins keeping your dog healthy, and they may also have smaller serving portions and keep your pooch satiated longer.
76. Organize your life
Find ways to avoid using services like pet sitting. Whenever you can, try to take your dog with you so you don’t have to hire dog walkers, for example.
77. Prepare food yourself
If done right, homemade dog food may be cheaper and even healthier for your dog. Here are 50 homemade dog food recipes for you to try; just remember to pay attention to costs of ingredients and pick the cheapest ones.
78. Involve friends and family
See if they can do you a favor to walk or care for your dog. Remember to return the favor when you can so that you can continue this routine, saving each other money.
79. Always measure it
Get into the habit of measuring your dog’s food portions. Feeding the right amount will keep your dog fit, save cash on pet food, pet products and vet bills.
80. Pet sitters over kennels
If you do have to use a service, then remember that pet sitters are often up to 50% cheaper than boarding kennels. Use one of the best dog boarding service apps out there to find a sitter that’s affordable.
81. Favor barters
Frugal pet owners and active savers are stronger together! Find a group of dog owners, and exchange favors – everybody saves. Share tips on saving, your best sites for discounts and have fun with it.
More budgeting tips for pet owners: