Creative Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 12/27/2022
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Owning a pet comes with many responsibilities. Aside from providing food and shelter, you must ensure their health and care needs are met. These can lead to huge expenses.

By understanding the different types of expenses, taking preventive actions, choosing the right pet insurance plan and finding creative ways to reduce daily expenses, pet owners can save money while effectively caring for their pets.

Easy Money-Saving Tips for Pet-Related Costs

Ongoing costs are a considerable portion of pet expenses. According to the American Pet Products Association, dog owners spend an average of $287 on food, $81 on food treats, $228 on kennel boarding, $81 on vitamins and $56 on toys per year. Meanwhile, cat owners spend an average of $254 on food, $72 on food treats, $78 on kennel boarding, $47 on vitamins and $41 on toys per year.

Although pet owners must meet their pets’ daily needs, it doesn’t have to break the bank. There are various ways to save money on pet expenses.

1

Explore do-it-yourself (DIY) projects

Instead of buying pet furniture, consider making it. You can find easy-to-follow guides online. If you’re into cooking or baking, you can make DIY treats to save money. Limit your visits to the groomer by learning how to do it at home. Although this may require you to buy some tools, it won’t be as expensive as going to a parlor.

2

Try other types of pet food

There are many types and brands of pet food available in the market. You may find cheaper food that still meets the needs of your pets. Another option is to mix a cheaper product with your usual food to make your supply last longer.

3

Find discounts and promos

Some pet stores offer rewards to loyal customers. Try joining loyalty clubs or get a membership card, which usually helps you get discounts on pet supplies. If possible, try to buy larger food bags as well. Typically, buying in bulk is cheaper than getting smaller bags repeatedly.

4

Compare your options

Shop around. Compare prices of toys, food and other supplies. You can check online prices to know how much you can expect to spend. This way, you can easily find cheaper products or money-saving deals.

An illustration of a pet owner learning tips on how to cut pet expenses based on pet types.

Tips to Cut Your Expenses Based on Pet Type

Being a pet owner is a commitment. Before getting a pet, you must consider their food, shelter, vaccinations, training and veterinary needs.

There are various expenses needed over your pet’s lifetime. These will vary depending on the type of animal you choose as a pet.

Dog

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Yearly cost: $1,400+
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Monthly cost: $125+

The cost of caring for a dog depends on the breed, age and health of the dog. Generally, you can expect to spend around $1,400 or more annually. Keeping your dog healthy can help prevent huge expenses.

Regular check-ups may seem costly initially, but doing so will help you save money in the long run. You can detect illnesses, treat them early or even prevent your dog from developing a disease.

Cat

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Yearly cost: $1,200+
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Monthly cost: $100+

On average, a cat owner spends $1,200 or more per year. That’s about $100 or more every month.

There are many ways to save money while caring for a car. Spaying or neutering is among them. Doing this will help prevent serious health problems and save you from possible large medical bills. You can find low-cost spay or neuter programs through the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Bird

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Yearly cost: $185+
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Monthly cost: $15.42+

Most pet birds are small. But taking care of one can still be costly. On average, a bird owner spends $185 or more annually for food, toys, treats, medications and housing.

The cost of owning a bird is way cheaper than other animals. But there are ways to lower your expenses further. For example, you can make simple toys instead of buying them. Look for DIY project tutorials online.

If you’re using a pre-cut cage liner, consider old newspapers instead. They work the same way and you can get them for free.

Fish

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Yearly cost: $520
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Monthly cost: $43.33

Having a fish may cost around $520 annually or $43.33 per month. This doesn’t include the initial expenses, including the aquarium, filtration equipment, test kits and heater, which can be around $150 or more. The cost of a fish averages $5–20.

Keep the aquarium water clean to avoid health problems, which can lead to huge expenses. Avoid using chemicals that may be harmful to the fish. Adding low-maintenance plants can also help.

Reptile

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Yearly cost: $190–450
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Monthly cost: $15.83–37.50

Reptiles, including iguanas, lizards and snakes, have unique needs. The cost of owning a reptile varies, depending on the species and age. On average, it may cost you $190–450 per year to cover regular expenses.

The best way to save money is to understand your pet’s needs first. Know their nutritional needs and make sure you can provide them. Buying their food in bulk can help. However, you have to make sure they remain fresh.

Some reptile owners choose to breed feeders, such as bugs and mice, to reduce food expenses. If you do this, remember to conduct thorough research and get the right resources.

An illustration of a parrot and pet veterinary bills.

How to Save Money on Veterinary Bills and Pet Care

With approximately 90.5 million households having a pet, the pet-caring industry has turned into a $123.6 billion industry. Veterinary care and product sales totaled $34.3 billion, equating to 27.75% of total pet expenditures.

Since veterinary care can be a bit pricey, many pet owners constantly look for ways to save money on pet expenses. You shouldn’t take veterinary shortcuts like skipping vaccines or using human medications or medications designated for other animals. These can be detrimental to your pet’s health.

1

Keep your pet healthy

The best way to prevent substantial veterinary bills is to maintain your pet’s health. Research their ideal weight and plan their diet. Remember to create time daily for exercise: walks, playtime or outings to the dog park. Most pets also require affection through petting and cuddling.

2

Purchase a pet health savings plan

Consider buying pet insurance. With this, you may be able to get reimbursements for medical costs and procedures.

3

Get necessary vaccinations

Diseases can lead to more medical costs. Vaccines are among your best options to protect your pet from pests that carry diseases.

4

Compare medication costs

Shop around before buying supplements and prescription medications from your vet. Some pharmacies sell pet medications for a lower price.

5

Check low-cost clinics

Look for universities or mobile clinics offering low-cost pet healthcare. While these may not give thorough examinations, they may have low-cost vaccinations, microchips and pest-preventative medications.

Preventive Actions That Can Help You Save on Pet Expenses

Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or not, it’s essential to be proactive when it comes to pet care. Taking preventive actions will help. Keeping your pet healthy will not only make them happier, but it’ll also save you money in the long run. You’ll avoid enormous medication costs and have fewer vet visits.

1

Don’t miss annual check-ups

Take your pet to the vet at least once a year for a thorough health exam. Even if your pet seems fine, a yearly exam is still necessary. The veterinarian may find something you missed and prevent more serious illnesses.

2

Purchase pet insurance

A pet insurance plan can help cut costs on pet care and emergency expenses. Find a policy that covers the needs of your pet. Make sure you understand how the coverage works to avoid issues.

3

Store pet foods more efficiently

Buying pet food in bulk can save you money. However, you have to ensure proper storage to avoid spoilage.

4

Complete necessary vaccinations

Depending on where you live, pet vaccines may be required by law. Make sure your pet has them. Ask your veterinarian if there are optional vaccines your pet may need.

5

Spay and neuter

Spaying and neutering prevent your pet from having babies. Additionally, it helps protect your pet from serious health problems like cancer.

6

Don’t forget dental care

Don’t use products meant for human use. Find suitable toothpaste and tools. You may also use recommended chewables to maintain your pet’s dental health.

Tips for Choosing the Right Pet Insurance Plan

Pet insurance helps protect your finances against possible huge veterinary costs. Insurance isn’t required by law. That’s why some people are fine without it. In the U.S., only 3.9 million pets are insured.

Learning how pet insurance works and your options will help you decide if pet insurance is worth it. Finding the right plan can help ensure you get your money’s worth.

  • petInsurance icon

    Know the plan coverage

    Like other types of insurance, there’s also a variety of pet insurance plans. Consider your pet’s needs, breed, gender and age. Check reimbursement limits, benefits and covered costs.

  • creditCardsMagnifyingGlass icon

    Research provider’s credibility

    Verify the credibility of the insurance provider. Research their customer and claims processing services. You can read customer reviews online if they’re available.

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    Read the fine print

    Don’t sign a plan without understanding all the terms and conditions. Check the premium, deductible, coverage exclusions and other fees. Clarify any questions with your insurance agent.

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    Ask veterinarians for advice

    Your veterinarian may be a good resource for finding the right pet insurance plan. They can advise on what coverage is best for your pet.

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    Shop around

    Don’t settle for the first insurance provider you find. Shop around and compare offers. Get personalized quotes for a more accurate comparison.

Expert Insight on Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses

Taking care of a pet can be expensive. Some strategies can help you reduce your expenses. MoneyGeek asked a few industry experts to provide insights for pet owners.

  1. What resources/tools can you recommend to pet owners who want to learn how to manage their finances better while ensuring proper pet care?
  2. What money-saving tips can you share with pet owners?
  3. When is it best to purchase a pet insurance plan? When is it not a good idea?
Bethany Tate
Bethany Tate

Pet Trainer and Managing Editor at Whole Pet Health

Josh Snead
Josh Snead

CEO of Rainwalk Pet Insurance

Dr. Amanda Takiguchi
Dr. Amanda Takiguchi

Veterinarian and Founder of Trending Breeds

Resources for Saving Money on Pet-Related Costs

Finding the right resources can help you manage your finances and cover all your pets’ needs. MoneyGeek compiled a list of relevant resources you may find helpful.

  • Animal Advocate Pet Hospital: Calculate veterinary expenses, including general exams, dental procedures and vaccines, using the Animal Advocate Pet Hospital’s cost calculator.
  • First Coast No More Homeless Pets: Find low-cost or free veterinary services, pet food banks and other programs that help low-income pet owners.
  • Hand on Banking: Learn about the different expenses related to pet care and determine if you can afford to own a pet.
  • Pet Nutrition Alliance: Access links to various guides and tools, including nutrition plan calculators, guidelines for selecting pet foods and lists of pet food recalls.
  • Waggle: Learn how Waggle can help you get financial help for emergency vet care or pet surgery. You may also find assistance for low-income pet owners.

About the Author


Nathan Paulus headshot

Nathan Paulus is the director of content marketing at MoneyGeek. Nathan has been creating content for nearly 10 years and is particularly engaged in personal finance, investing, and property management. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas Houston.


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