Owning a pet requires time, energy, and money. Before you make the decision to adopt or buy, do your research into what costs are associated with the particular breed or species you're considering.
If you're already a pet parent, you’ve likely discovered just how much costs can add up. To minimize the financial toll of raising a soulful sidekick to adulthood, you’ll need to learn about their breed, estimate food expenses, understand medical needs, and ensure your pet lives an active lifestyle.
Sadly, with inflation affecting the majority of the world and costs rising across the country, many pet owners are faced with the bleak reality of having to choose between their pet and their savings. At Figo, our goal is to avoid this situation, beyond just by offering cost-saving insurance. Let's break down how you can save money as an everyday pet parent who wants the best life for their dog or cat.
Research your breed
Different animals need different levels of care depending on their size, genetic issues, and more. For example, smaller dogs require less food than larger breeds. Depending on the breed, there could be different levels of risk for cardiovascular, respiratory, or autoimmune diseases, which will affect the cost of care.
You’ll also need to find out how much time you need to spend with your pet. Dogs require much more time with their owners than say, reptiles, for example. If you have a more passive pet like a reptile, you won’t have to spend as much time with them. However, if you decide to get a dog, be aware that you might have to spend money on dog sitters for when you are away on a vacation or work trip. If you need a happy medium between these two extremes, a cat may be a better fit.
With dogs, grooming is also something to keep in mind. Do this yourself if you’re up to the task, but if not, just know that this will be an additional expense.
Estimate food costs
Food costs may very well be the most expensive part of owning a pet depending on the animal. As mentioned before, larger dogs will require much more food to stay healthy. If you’re still deciding what kind of dog you want, consider a smaller dog to save money on food.
When shopping for your pet’s food, try buying in bulk and avoid fancy options if you need to maintain a tighter budget. Some of the lesser-known brands still have quality ingredients and are much more affordable.
Understand medical costs
Even if you have a healthy pet, standard medical care can be expensive. For example, the majority of dog owners give their pups heart medication as a preventative measure. These routine medications can add up over time.
And if your pet has medical issues, there will be many unexpected costs in terms of medication or surgery. It’s wise to invest in pet insurance in case anything happens to your pet. You’ll want to avoid paying for expensive emergencies like surgeries in full, so setting aside some money every month for insurance can help ease your mind about expensive medical costs.
Should your pet require extensive care prior to qualifying for insurance, consolidating any veterinary care debt can help keep you organized and minimize payment scheduling.
You can also look into an option like Care Credit, which is a credit card that can be used for healthcare and veterinary expenses not covered by insurance. Essentially, it helps pet parents finance up-front costs so they can be paid off in smaller amounts over time. Like any credit card, this is technically borrowed money. But it can be a lifesaver for those who don't have a separate savings account for vet expenses.
When it comes to medications, ask your vet to write a prescription that you can fill at your own pharmacy. That way, you can utilize any prescription savings or membership programs they may have. If your vet can prescribe a less-expensive, human drug equivalent to whatever medication your pet needs, ask them to do so. These often are less expensive to fill.
Commit to an active lifestyle
Naturally, healthy pets are usually less expensive to take care of. One of the most important actions you can take to minimize the cost of owning a pet is to exercise them often. Ideally, you should be walking or running them daily. However, your schedule or personal circumstances might limit you to a few times per week, or less. If that’s the case, try to walk them whenever your schedule allows.
Hiring a dog walker is an option, but if you want to spend less money it’s in your best interest to find the time in your schedule. If you have kids they might be able to help exercise the pets for you. For example, if they play outside with the dog they’ll be able to play with them around the yard while you’re working on something else.
You may also want to employ the help of neighborhood kids or teens if your schedule doesn't allow for proper dog exercise. They will likely do the task at a discount - just ensure they can properly handle your dog's size and strength before allowing them to take them alone.
Turn to the community
If worst comes to worst and you are facing an ultimatum with your pet, consider turning to your community for support. With the rising cost of food, vet care, and more, many well-meaning owners are simply unable to afford their beloved pets. Since no one likes seeing dogs and cats returned to the shelter, you could request assistance via crowdfunding platforms like GoFundMe.
Additionally, there are lots of Facebook groups dedicated to low-cost or free resources. It's not unusual to see neighbors looking to gift excess dog food, bedding, and more to those in need.
While shelters and rescues are at capacity, it also can't hurt to reach out if you're facing something like eviction or medical euthanasia. They may have additional resources that can help alleviate the cost of vet bills, food, and more.
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Lizz Caputo is a Content Strategist at Figo, animal enthusiast, and owner of a rescued senior American Bully. Her hobbies include checking out new restaurants in her area, boxing, and petting dogs of all shapes and sizes.