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6 Ways to Make Pet Ownership Affordable

pet ownership

The benefits of pet ownership are numerous. They give unconditional love. They’re a forever friend. And they even provide their humans with all kinds of physical benefits—from lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels to more opportunities for exercise and socialization.

But they also can come at a big financial cost. And, according to the American Pet Products Association, we’re spending more on Fido and Fluffy than we ever have before.

The association’s survey found that pet care spending in 2018 reached an all-time high of $72.56 billion, up 4 percent from the year before. The number includes food, supplies, over-the-counter medications, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services, according to the industry group.

Pet ownership costs, of course, will vary wildly depending on the kind of animal you have. When you get a single beta fish, for example, you’ll have initial costs when you buy the tank, filtration system and heater. But there will be little ongoing expenses once you’ve bought the initial jar of food that will last for months.

A dog, however, will cost more over time. The lifetime costs to care for a dog hover around $14,480 for a large dog with a life expectancy of 10 years; $15,051 years for a small dog with a life expectancy of 15 years; and $15,782 for a medium dog with a life expectancy of 13 years, according to the American Kennel Club. That averages out to more than $1,000 a year. estimates it costs between $500 and $1,000 a year to care for a cat, including food, toys, litter and vet care.

But there are ways to bring home that friendly puppy or cuddly kitten without breaking the bank.

Here are six ways to cut the costs of pet ownership

Keep them healthy

The ASPCA recommends regular check-ups, updated vaccines and protecting them from fleas and ticks to avoid more costly medical issues in the future. Brushing their teeth also is an important way to keep them healthy. Dental disease, according to the ASPCA, can cause heart and kidney problems. Pet insurance, which can run as little as $10 a month, according to, may help make these routine costs more affordable.

Groom them at home

Bathing a giant dog or brushing an unwilling cat may seem like an impossible task, but it also can save you lots of money at the groomer. The ASPCA offers at-home grooming tips for dogs and cats.

Look for low-cost vet care

When your pet is sick, the last thing you want to do is watch them suffer. But many pet owners wonder how they’ll ever be able to afford to take them. The Humane Society offers some tips for finding inexpensive veterinary care when your animal needs help. Options include working out a payment plan with a vet and going to a low-cost clinic at a local veterinary school.

Save on pet food

Just like you probably aren’t buying the best cut of steak for yourself at the grocery store, you also should be a bargain shopper when it comes to your animals. Cutting coupons, shopping the sales and buying in bulk all are strategies to cut your pet food costs.

Feeding them the correct portion size also is a way to keep your costs low for two reasons. When you don’t overfeed them, you won’t have to buy that new bag of kibble as often. And, they’ll stay healthier when they aren’t overeating.

Make your own toys

Instead of spending money on toys they’ll likely only pull apart, consider making them with items you probably already have around the house. has 17 ideas for dog toys you can make around the house. The Penny Hoarder has nine cat toys you can make for free.

Ask for help

When your daily finances to support the people in your house have become overwhelming, it’s time to look for agencies and nonprofits that can help you support your pets too. The Humane Society offers a comprehensive, state-by-state list of resources for pet owners who need some help.

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are looking for a solution, non-profit credit counseling can help you make sense of all your options. ​Contact us today for a free financial assessment with one of our certified credit counselors.


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