I know you mentioned a while back on Facebook that you recently got a dog. I’m wondering how much you think I should budget for pet supplies every month. Also, do you have any great sources for deals on food, medications and boarding. We are on a level pay plan with our vet, but the food and medications get really costly. Plus, I travel once or twice a month and boarding my dog is so expensive.
Yes, it’s true. Back in August we adopted a two-ish year old lab/chow mix, whom we named Haviv. We also have an extremely anti-social cat named Casey.
(Why – thank you. I’d love to show you a picture of my dog!)
Just like the rest of my family, our pets need to fit into our “on a budget” lifestyle, so here are some of things I have done to keep our costs down.
Haviv gets heartworm meds once a month (Interceptor, the most expensive one – of course… but he came to us with whip worms, so that’s what our vet recommended), plus his flea meds.
I shopped around pretty extensively and found that PetCareRx had far and away the best prices on our OTC and prescription meds. You get free shipping on orders over $49 (and sometimes as low as $29 with a coupon code), which I always hit when ordering a 6-month supply of meds. And when you sign up thru a friend’s referral link (ehem), you get a $10 credit + free shipping to use toward your first purchase of $35+.
When we had to get meds to treat Haviv’s whip worms, our vet compounded them and sold them to us for a nice discount. It’s always worth asking if that’s an option.
Pet Food & Treats
Some animals have very sensitive digestive tracts, so you have to feed them the same food all the time. But if your four-legged friend is more flexible, there are always good sales on various brands… and tons of pet food coupons to boot!
Just like I do with our own food, I keep a price book. and stock up when pet food hits my “buy now” price.
If all else fails, and you’re a member of Costco, the Kirkland brand is a pretty highly regarded blend and it’s a good price without having to fuss with coupons and sales.
As for treats, I never pay more than $1 a bag – and usually much less. Shop the sales!
The same applies to toys. Plus, we go with the less is more philosophy. Haviv has one rope toy and a KONG (ohmygosh, that thing rocks!). Casey has, um, nothing.
Pet Boarding and Grooming
We bathe Haviv ourselves, so fortunately we haven’t had to pay for any grooming. I know some breeds require more maintenance than others, but if you can go longer between appointments (just like with your own hair), you’ll save a bundle.
And don’t forget to shop around: Don’t just got to PetSmart just because it’s convenient if you’re paying twice as much!
For boarding, again, we haven’t had to deal with this yet, but I would ask a friend first. If you travel a lot like Dan, you probably don’t want to bug a friend every time, so a boarder seems like a good choice.
- You might be able to negotiate a “frequent flyer” discount with your boarder (eg., stay 6 nights, get the 7th night free) – it doesn’t hurt to ask!
- Check into “out of town” vets. Here in Kansas City, for example, many of the large animal vets out in the ‘country’ also offer dog boarding at a fraction of the cost of in-town boarding.
- Look for deals thru local deal-a-day sites. I am constantly seeing boarding specials come across my inbox from Groupon and Living Social. Sign up for those sites, if you’re not already.
- Check out the cost of pet insurance. I know a lot of readers recommended this when we first adopted Haviv. We haven’t gone that route yet, but I suggest that you do your due diligence before deciding for or against it.
- Find a vet you like and trust – and who will work with you, if need be. When a pet gets sick, it’s easy to throw your credit card at the problem and ask your vet to do “everything possible”. I’m not in the position to offer any advice on how to care for your pet’s medical problems, but I will say that if you don’t have the cash in hand to pay for it, then that needs to be a major factor in your decision-making process.
As for how much to budget for your pet, there are so many factors that go into that, I can’t give a one-size-fits-all amount. Start by looking back at your spending over the last six months – your average monthly amount is a good place to start.
For our pets, we set up a “rolling” budget of $35/month to cover vet visits and medications. Obviously we don’t spend the full $35 each month, so it sits in an ING sink fund until we need it. Food and treats come out of our groceries budget.
I’m far from an expert on pets, especially since we’ve only had Haviv for five months, so I’d love for my more experienced readers to chime in, too! I know you have lots of suggestions for saving on pet supplies!