We love our furry friends because they are our companions and our babies. However, with the economy wavering unsteadily, we wonder how we’ll afford to continue caring for them as we did before. I know a great professional dog stylist and I have owned many different animals throughout my life. Not to mention, I was raised by a Mother who can squeeze a penny till it looks like a dollar! So here are some tips on how to save money on pet care.
High quality food – You may want to skimp on this, but please don’t. High quality foods have better nutrition. So what does that mean? It means your pet will eat less, which means you buy less and your pet won’t make as much of a mess for you to clean up. And better nutrition means less vet bills! Some animals are allergic to ingredients in the lower quality foods. Many ingredients that pets can be allergic to include wheat, corn and ingredients labled “meal” or “by-product.” So be sure to check the labels of the food you’re buying. Research the ingredients and make sure they’re appropriate for your pet.
Grooming – Depending on the type of animal you own this may or may not be a concern for you. Most people who need to worry about grooming costs are the ones who own long haired dogs (poodles, yorkies, doodles, malteses, etc) or longhaired cats. Not to say you may not worry about it with other animals.
Your first thought may be to groom your pet at home. Because that would save lots of money, right? Maybe. It depends on the amount of grooming your pet requires, the time you have to devote to it, and what your idea of grooming is. Grooming consists of brushing, bathing, drying, nail clipping or grinding, ear cleaning, haircut (if applicable) and often expression of the anal glands.
Brushing your pet at home is always recommended. You should brush your pet at least once a week. This stimulates the skin, wicks away dirt and prevents tangles. Brushing your pet between professional groomings will save you money. How? Because most pet groomers will charge you an extra fee to dematt or shave an animal with a tangled coat. You can also go a little longer between groomings if your pet is brushed regularly. Your groomer will happily recommend the proper tools for keeping your pet tangle free at home. And your pet will appreciate the extra attention.
Bathing your pet can be simple or very complicated depending on the animal. If the pet hates bathes, has thick fur or is too big for the bath tub you might consider taking them to the groomer. It’s recommended you use a shampoo made specifically for your type of pet and follow the directions closely. Make sure there are no tangles in the fur before bathing, because water will make them tighter. Remember to have lots of towels handy.
Nail clipping is a venture many pet owners choose not to take. Animals can be very fussy when it comes to having their feet touched. The quick (blood vessel in the nail) is often hard to locate and clipping it will cause your pet pain. You can choose to grind the nails, but some pets aren’t accepting of this either. The good news is that even if you bathe your pet at home you can take them to a grooming salon for their nails only. And perhaps get their ears cleaned for a few dollars more.
Haircuts are the most complicated procedure to execute at home. Though it can be done. I have many clients who groom their pets (successfully) in-between coming to see me. It’s important that if you want your pet to look like it has been professionally groomed you learn as much about grooming your breed as possible. Look up the standard for your breed, how to groom it, and study how your current groomer does the hair. If your breed requires a haircut all over or you just want to cut the hair all over, you will need good quality clippers, these can run $100.00 & up. You’ll need shears, a comb, brush(s) suitable to the coat, a table, clipper blades of the desired length, and lots of time. You’ll need to keep in mind not only the cost for the initial equipment, but the cost to maintain it. Clippers must be oiled and parts replaced regularly. Blades and shears need to be kept clean, oiled and sharpened.
I strongly recommend you leave expression of the anal glands to the experts. There is a possibility that the glands can be damaged if expressed improperly. Not to mention it’s a very smelly affair.
But before you grab your dog and begin showing off your hidden artistic talent, keep this in mind. Groomers often charge extra to “fix” home groomings, which even when “fixed” your dog won’t display his normal coiffed appearance until the hair can grow out again. There’s also risk of nicking or cutting your dog, remember this is a living, moving animal you’ll be chasing with sharp objects. Which may mean vet bills that cost more than having your dog groomed. And please remember never ever to remove matts or tangles with scissors.
If you decide home grooming is not for you here are some tips to save at the groomers:
1. Brush your pet and keep them tangle free between groomings.
2. If your groomer is charging a “handling” fee (which means your pet misbehaves extensively during the grooming process) ask your groomer what you can do to improve your pets behavior. They can tell you where his “problem” areas are and recommend ways to help him adjust to having them groomed (E.x. Your pet doesn’t like his feet touched. So handle his feet at home while giving him treats & praise). You might also try putting your pet through training classes, which will benefit you both in the long run.
3. Ask your groomer if they offer a maintenance plan. A maintenance plan is for pets that come back within so many weeks and are given a discount for doing so. Keep your pet within the time frame and save!
4. Get your pet trimmed shorter and brush between groomings to make the trim last longer.
5. Ask your groomer if they have a referral plan. If they offer discounts for clients you get to come into their shop, then refer everyone you know with a pet!
Pet supplies: When it comes to buying pet supplies there are many ways to save. Watch for coupons in the paper and sales ads.
Many petstores offer free discount cards with no catch. They offer these cards because every time you use one they can track the items that are the most popular. Which means they’ll keep those products up-to-date and instock. So it’s a win/win for you! Just ask your local petstore if they offer a discount card and sign-up. Many have sign-ups bonuses that include coupons and free gifts.
Petstores will also hold promotional events where they hand out free samples and coupons. Watch for these being advertised and note them on your calendar. They’re worth the effort to attend.
If you can, buy your supplies in bulk. You can save a little money by doing this. Try to get other pet owners you know to go in with you.
Watch for clearance sales! During times when new products are coming out (Ex. Holidays, new seasons, etc) petstores reduce the price of items to move them out to make room for the new ones. You can find $60.00 items marked down to $8.00.
You can also call stores to see if they’re offering any sales, to compare prices and make sure they have the items you need. This will save you time and fuel money.
Make homemade toys or treats for your pet. There are lots of treat recipes online or in books. And toys can be as simple as old socks or putting holes in a 2 liter bottle and putting your pet’s food in it. Please always monitor your pet with any toys and remove them if they start to fall apart.
Make sure your pet stays healthy to lower vet bills. Give your pet regular exercise, training, grooming, nutrition, water and toys. All of these work to keep your pet happy and healthy!