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Ask the Readers: How do you save on pet care?

Emily emailed in the following question:

I’m writing because there is an area of our budget I haven’t been able to trim: pet care! Our dog was our first “baby” and we got him when we were both employed. Since that time, I got laid off from my job in sales and chose to stay home with our two small children.

While we’ve adjusted our food budget, as well as most other areas of our finances, I’ve yet to adjust our dog food. We raised the dog on Iams, which is good food but quite pricey. We’re hesitant to switch, as dogs normally don’t fare well during the switch. And some cheaper dog foods are just JUNK!

I’d love suggestions on where to find high-value coupons or how to cut our spending on dog food. Thanks so much – Emily

While we don’t have any dogs–yet!–I do know that My Pet Savings is a great blog to follow if you have pets of any kind. You’ll find lots of ideas, coupons, freebies and more for pets there.

Aside from that, I’m pretty clueless when it comes to saving money on pets. But I have no doubt that my readers are a wealth of wisdom when it comes to this subject.

So chime in with your great ideas on saving money on pet food and how to trim the budget when it comes to pet care without sacrificing quality.

Have a question you’d like me to pose for our weekly Ask the Readers feature? Email it to me and I’ll be glad to consider doing so.

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  • Trish says:

    I have 3 dogs and 4 cats and know how pricey pet food can get! But feeding my “fur kids” is one area I am quite particular about! While the prices of some foods may shock you at first in the long run higher quality foods work out much cheaper. If you follow feeding guides on bags, you have to feed MUCH LESS of the higher quality foods in order for your pet to get what they need from their food. Example- you may have to feed a 60 pound dog 5 cups of cheaper food daily and only 2 cups of high quality food daily. Therefor you dont have to buy food as often, your pet gets the best and you save money. I will only feed my pets “Wellness” foods and signed up for their “naturally well pet club” they usually post great money saving coupons (sometimes $5.00 or more) My pets look and feel great, and i’m confident they’re getting the best food around without breaking the bank!

  • Lyndsey says:

    We have two cats (and will soon be getting a German Shepherd). We’ve found that Sam’s Club saves us a lot of money on food and litter for the cats. On occasion we will get a good deal at the grocery store on these products, but for the most part Sam’s is the way to go. And… they have IAMS. 🙂

  • Joy says:

    Yes, animals can be expensive-but what would we do without them 🙂
    I’m not sure if this will help you or not, but it’s what works for us. We are very particular about our food and that carries over to what we feed our medium size dog. We have two “dog Tupperware” in our house. One contains the “expensive” food, brands like Evo or Natural Balance. The other tends to be Whole Foods low calorie food. Since our dog is part of the family, she eats three meals with us because we’re home. Breakfast and dinner tend to be W.F. kibble, and lunch the higher nutrition food. We’ve never had any trouble switching foods around. She eats 1 cup of kibble a day (1/3 each meal). Between those meals she snacks on REAL food. If we’re eating fruit or a veggie smoothie for breakfast, she has some. If we made a salad for lunch/dinner, she has some too. Basically, we give her as many veggies and some fruit as she wants. You may need to start slowly if your dog is not used to eating this way. Try starting with broccoli stalks, the white parts of romaine lettuce, and cucumbers drizzled with olive oil or sardine oil. Eventually it’ll become a “foodie” and love “weirder” things like sauteed kale and green smoothies. So….I guess all that boils down to 1.) nutrition is important, so don’t try to skimp too much, but 2.) don’t forget about real veggies and fruit too. Hope this helps!

    • Joy says:

      Just in case ~ remember not to feed your dog raisins, grapes, or avocado. If I remember correctly the grapes affect the dog’s kidneys, and the fat in the avocado can harm the dog’s liver. I didn’t know this at first and was feeding avocado to my dog!

  • V.K. says:

    If you have a small dog, making your own food may be much more cost effective and definitely much healthier for your dog. There are a number of BARF diet sites out there. I know I cut my pet food budget by half by making my own food. I make a batch and freeze it jars in the freezer and warm it up in warm water before feeding.

  • Andrea says:

    I think the real key to cutting health care costs is the same in people: weight management and practising good preventative medicine. Have your pet seen by your vet at least yearly and don’t skimp on preventative blood tests your vet may recommend. It is easier and cheaper to treat many serious diseases if found early and can extend the quality of life of your pet. If your vet recommends heartworm prevention or flea control, don’t ignore their advice. Heartworm disease costs less than $100 a year for most pets while heartworm treatment can cost $500-$1000.

    • Tammy says:

      @Andrea, While I wholeheartedly agree with this approach I am never one to pass up a bargain so here it is. My vet firmly believes you should buy your pet medications at the office or pharmacy if it is something she doesn’t stock. Her reason is simple she is cautious of expired medications which may not work or have side effects, counterfit medications, and the like…… She has a very simple practice which I use, in order to keep clients from buying medications such as flea and heartworm preventitives elsewhere she has a pricematch policy. If you find it online from a reputable company (ebay doesn’t count) which deals in pet supplies, print out the price and ad and take it to her she will sell it to you for the competitors advertised price. It can’t hurt to ask if you vet will do the same.

      • Desire' H. says:

        I would definitely do this for the heartworm medication! For flea meds, we get from Drs. FosterSmith which is a very reputable company. We’ve not had any problems with them!

  • Dawn says:

    You can sign up for different pet food manufacturers’ email newsletters and often they will include coupons in the newlsetter. Sometimes they’ve given opportunities to take a survey and get nice high value coupons to use.

  • Jay says:

    Sam’s Club is a great choice, but if you are not a member then go to Walmart. The cat litter, food, toys, etc is about 30% less then your local pet store. My cat’s favorite toy cost $1.99.

    You can also save money on prescription medications for your pet at Walmart or local grocery store. Unlike Walgreen’s and CVS, your pet will qualify for drugs on the $4 drug list (steroids, antibiotics, etc.)

  • Rachel says:

    For flea and tick treatment, you can use a mixture of lavendar oil and water and spray it on before your dog goes outside. It has seemed to work for our dog and is much cheaper than monthly flea treatments.

  • brandy says:

    I get great deals on premium dog food for my miniature schnauzer (granted, she doesn’t eat a whole lot) by applying my normal shopping methods to her food. I combine store dollars-off coupons with manufacturers coupons. Wellness brand has a lot of great coupons and is available locally to me. Treats I get at kmart doubles for nearly free.

  • Christi says:

    My dog recently started having a reaction to her mid-grade dog food and I had to upgrade to expense dog food (bummer, but cheaper and healthier than all of those vet visits!).

    The smaller-chain pet store in my town gives me a free bag for every 10 I buy, and if I ask they always give me a coupon. I’ve found this to be a much cheaper way to go about getting the expensive stuff than going to a big-box pet store. Not great, but better at least.

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