For many of us, money is tight these days. The global pandemic has led to large-scale layoffs, unexpected medical bills, and other life stressors. While pets are getting more of our time and attention, the cost of taking care of them can be an added financial burden when we are already tightening our belts. Here are some simple ways you can drive down the costs while still giving your pet the love and care they deserve:
- Buy your pet food online
Many online retailers offer discounts on pet food orders when you order on a subscription basis. These kinds of loyalty programs can significantly reduce money spent and increase time saved. Chewy.com offers hefty discounts, sometimes as much as a 30% savings on your first subscription order, and Petco.com often offers up to 35% off plus free shipping on your first subscription order. Some online retailers offer up to 10% off of top pet food brands, and shipping is quick and often free for orders over certain amounts. Other internet-based retailers such as Amazon.com also provide similar subscriptions and discounts, allowing you to make sure you get the brands you want while still saving money. There are also other ways to save money on your pet food orders, for instance, rebate websites such as freeshipping.com which offers 10% cash back rebates to customers of several major pet stores.
- Get pet insurance to offset medical bills, or find a low-cost vet
During times of crisis, it may be difficult to focus on your pet’s health when your health or the health of other family members is at the top of your mind. Fortunately, there are things you can do to ensure that your pet’s medical costs are more affordable. Pet insurance plans can cover everything from basic care to accidents, illnesses, cancer, and emergency care, among other things. With a pet insurance plan, your pet will be taken care of without major worries about unexpected high costs: you pay the same flat fee either monthly or yearly and know up front what coverage is available. If the unexpected happens and your pet is uninsured, services such as CareCredit and scratchpay.com are both resources that offer financing services to allow you to break up payments over time for your pet care. There are also low-cost veterinary services that provide quality medical care to pets without breaking the bank. Make sure to shop around for the best vet prices when money is an issue. You can also drive down the cost of pharmacy items using online retailers, such as heartlandvetsupply.com, Chewy.com, or others. These retailers are cheaper than the vet, and may save you money on your pet’s regular Heartworm medication and other pharmacy needs.
- Learn to do the parts of pet care you usually pay someone to do
Two parts of pet care that can be financially prohibitive are grooming and training. We sometimes bring our pets to groomers and trainers for the convenience and professional-level services, but these are jobs you can actually do yourself. On YouTube, there are countless resources to learn these skills, and many large pet welfare organizations offer resources and even online pet training classes. You will not only save money now, but also in the future when saving this money is less of a necessity, but still a great idea. Caring for your pet in this way will also strengthen the bond between you and your furry friend, and basic training and grooming skills are something every pet owner should have in their “toolkit.”
- Ask for help
Accessing support from the people around us is another way to save money on pet care. Contact your local humane society or shelter. They may offer low cost services or resources that you can take advantage of, such as free vaccinations or food drives that can help you save on essential things. You can also request financial assistance from an American Veterinary Medical Association member veterinarian enrolled in the Veterinary Care Charitable Fund program. They offer charitable veterinary services to pet owners facing personal hardships as well as support for animals that are injured or rescued from abuse and neglect. Those are not your only options. For example, if you have to go into work every day and cannot watch your pet, think about swapping favors with friends or family members instead of paying for expensive services like dog walking or boarding. You are not the only one who needs help right now, and coming to mutually beneficial agreements is the best way for a community to support one another. Even a good relationship with your landlord can be important. Many housing options require a “pet fee” be paid, but landlords can be lenient and waive this fee during this time to allow you to focus on your financial recovery while continuing to care for your pet.
While these strategies can be helpful to save money, they are not the only way to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Remember that unconditional love, affection and attention are things that anybody can provide to their pets, and of course they are totally free.