This is a guest post from Jen Hayes of Frugal Millennial. As someone who lives with 2 cats and 2 dogs, she’s an expert when it comes to raising pets without breaking the bank! My husband is dying for us to get a furry friend, so I’m excited to learn a thing or two from Jen about how to save money when getting a new dog.
Owning a pet can have a positive impact on your mental health, but it can be detrimental to your wallet. Puppies have unique needs that can make the pet ownership experience even more expensive. If you’re interested in adopting a puppy, it’s wise to consider the numerous costs associated with puppies. Follow these 7 tips to keep the costs reasonable.
How to Save Money on Your Dog
1. Buy Quality Food
It’s best not to be too cheap when it comes to food. You don’t need to buy the most expensive brand, but do your research and find quality food. Your dog’s diet could affect his future health, and it’s worth spending a little more on food now if it means saving on future vet bills.
Tip: Buying dog food online is often cheaper than in store (and easier since it’s delivered right to your door!). Use Ebates to maximize your savings and get cash back on your purchases.
2. Choose an Affordable Vet
If you live in a large city, chances are that the vets are expensive in your area. Try researching vets in nearby rural areas. You’ll have to drive a bit farther, which means you’ll spend more on gas, but it might be worth it if the vet offers much cheaper prices.
My husband is from a small town in Iowa, and we bring our puppy to the vet there whenever we are in town visiting his family. We recently spent $80 on a visit that likely would’ve been $300 or more in the city where we live. If you ever spend time at a family member’s cabin, it might be worth bringing your pup with you on the trip and going to the vet in that area.
3. Find Cheap Toys
There’s no need to buy expensive toys from a pet store. Your puppy’s favorite toy might be a tennis ball or a Frisbee you got for free. Wal-Mart, Target, and The Dollar Store offer affordable toys for pets. You could also ask your friends and family members if any of them have old dog toys that their dogs don’t like. Most dogs have a few favorite toys and ignore the rest of their toys. Most of our puppy’s toys are hand-me-downs that my parents’ dog doesn’t play with anymore.
4. Consider Puppy Insurance
Is puppy insurance worth it? It might be worthwhile for the first year of your dog’s life – in that time, the puppy will need booster shots, heartworm/tick medication, and surgery to be spayed or neutered. These items can be expensive (particularly the spay/neuter surgery).
Keep in mind that the more expensive insurance plans likely cover more – the cheapest option might not cover emergency visits, treatment for genetic conditions, or other specific services. Remember that insurance may be worthwhile for some puppy owners but not for others. It will vary depending on how expensive the vets are in your area and your puppy’s specific needs.
The breed of your puppy is an important consideration – I adopted a pug puppy, and pugs are particularly prone to sinus issues and breathing problems due to their flat noses. If your puppy’s breed has any common health issues, make sure to factor this in when estimating the possible costs of vet visits.
5. Start Training Right Away
With training, it’s important to start early and be consistent. The sooner your puppy is potty trained, the better. It’s also crucial to prevent your pup from chewing on everything in sight.
Puppies go through a teething phase, so it’s a natural instinct for them to bite everything. Every time the puppy chews on something he isn’t supposed to, give him a toy to nibble on so that he will learn that his toys are the only things he’s allowed to bite.
The more well-trained your puppy is, the less likely it is that you will have to spend money replacing household items that the puppy has peed on or chewed up.
6. Use Pet Sitting Websites
Instead of boarding your puppy at the vet or an expensive “pet hotel” when you go on vacation, try using pet sitting websites. There are many pet lovers out there who charge reasonable prices to watch your pet in your home or in theirs.
Better yet, ask a friend or family member to watch your puppy. If they love dogs (and your dog is at least somewhat well-behaved), it’s a win-win. They get to spend time playing with an adorable puppy and you know that your beloved pet is being taken care of someone by you know well and trust.
Tip: Wag! is a great app where you can find pet walkers and pet sitters instantly. It’s basically the Uber of dog walking!
7. Bulk Up Your Emergency Fund
It’s impossible to be prepared for everything. If your puppy eats a barrette or comes down with a serious illness, you want to make sure you can cover the costs associated with surgery or other types of treatment.
Insurance typically won’t cover everything, and you may still have some high out-of-pocket costs if the puppy needs surgery. To prepare for possible unexpected expenses, increase the size of your emergency fund before you adopt the puppy.
If something happens to your dog, you can worry about making sure he gets better instead of fretting over how you’re going to pay for the vet visits.
Related: How We Built A $10,000 Emergency Fund in 10 Months
Owning a puppy can boost your mood, lower your blood pressure, and keep you active. However, the strain on your wallet can add to your stress level. To keep puppy ownership affordable, buy quality food, choose an affordable vet, find cheap toys, consider puppy insurance, start training right away, use pet sitting websites, and bulk up your savings.
Enjoy spending time with your new pet without the financial worries!
Jen Hayes is a frugal lifestyle blogger at Frugal Millennial and freelance writer. She is passionate about helping fellow millennials to lead healthier lives — financially, physically and mentally. Jen is currently on a journey toward shedding 50 pounds and $117,000 of student loan debt by 2018.