Tips to Make Man’s Best Friend More Wallet Friendly


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No expense is too great for your beloved pet — as long you’re planning and budgeting. As much as we love our furry, four-legged friends, they can cost us a lot. Small expenses such as food, toys, and treats add up each month, and larger expenses (think vet bills) have the potential to set you back a lot. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a pet –it just means you need to budget accordingly. According to Kiplinger, a dog can cost between $700 and $2,000 in the first year alone. That’s not including other expenses such as pet insurance, grooming, and dog walking, which can cause the cost to increase to more than $7,000.

Make sure you’re regularly setting money aside for pet expenses so when something comes up you’ve got it covered. Here are some pointers to help you figure just how much you could be saving.

1. Food

“Feeding a small dog or cat costs $120 to $150 a year; feeding a large dog is $350,” Stephen Zawistowski, science adviser at the American Pet Products Association, told AARP. But overfeeding pets can cause people to spend much more than that each year. In order to save some money, make sure you’re following the food recommendations. Typically, one-half to three-quarters of a cup will do the trick. For dogs, try to stick with dry food rather than canned. Wet food is 70 percent water, meaning it’ll cause you to feed your pet considerably more.

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2. Toys

Pet owners can spend up to $40 per year on toys for small pets — $55 a year for medium-sized animals and $75 a year for large pets, says Kiplinger. While having toys on hand is good (it keeps them from getting bored and destroying something else), make sure you’re spending money on well-built toys that will be able to last. Cheap or small toys can end up leading to unnecessary medical costs if your pet swallows them.

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3. Planned medical care

Your pet needs an annual checkup, which will ensure that your four-legged friend is free of fleas and worms. It’s also important to stay on top of annual vaccines. These typical yearly vet costs can cost about $200 to $250, per The Nest.

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4. Unplanned medical care

Unfortunately, like people, there are going to be occasions where your dog needs to see the vet for something other than a checkup. Unplanned trips are the most expensive item to budget for — just one has the potential to set you back a lot. “An ‘everyday’ dog emergency can run as much as $2,000 to $3,000 in vet bills, while dog surgery can top out at as much as $5,000,” writes The Nest.

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5. Grooming

While this can vary depending on the size and coat of your pet, Kiplinger says that grooming for small dogs can cost $265 per year, medium dogs can cost $320 per year, and large dogs can cost $410 per year. It may seem like a lot, but think about all of the little grooming items you purchase for your pet — bath products, brushes, nail trimmers, and dental care. Whether you decide to do the grooming yourself (it will save you some) or get it professionally done, you should anticipate this expense.

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6. Traveling costs

There’s a good chance that traveling costs will pop up once or twice a year. About recommends budgeting between $100 and $300 per year. That will increase, though, if you’re a frequent traveler. Boarding will be more expensive than hiring a petsitter; however, your animals will probably get more individual attention at a pet retreat. Even if you have your pet travel with you, you should still anticipate expenses such as hotel and airplane fees.

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7. Budgeting Tricks

Save up. The easiest way to ensure you’re setting aside money for pet expenses is by opening a savings account specifically for pet costs, suggests About. Even if it’s only $10 to $20 a month, actively setting aside that money can ensure you’ve got some saved up, especially for those unplanned vet trips.

Write it down. Make sure to actively write down what you anticipate spending on expenses each month. When the month is up, write down what you actually spent so you have a better idea of what you’re going to need to set aside each month, suggests Expert Beacon. Go as far as to make an actual budget with line items for all of the costs — it’s much harder to stick with a budget if you don’t have one written down.

Cut costs when it makes sense. When it comes to your pet, cut costs when you can, but keep in mind that sometimes it pays to spend a little more. Food, for example, is a budget item that you’re better off spending more on. “A poor diet will create health problems long-term. Also, buying cheap food could end up costing more. Dogs may overeat to get the nutrients they need. Buying in bulk is cost efficient. Make sure to consult with your vet about any special dietary needs your dog may have,” according to Everyday Health. You should be able to save money on treats, though. You can simply bake your own, which is a much cheaper option.

Try this recipe, called Leftovers Trail Mix, via Cesar’s Way. Combine any of the following leftovers from your refrigerator to create a flavor-packed trail mix.


  • Pieces of meat (if seasoned, make sure to rinse off any flavoring)
  • Potatoes
  • Vegetables (no onions)
  • Fruit (no grapes or raisins)

Directions: Cut ingredients into one-half inch thick pieces. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Place in a food dehydrator or into a 200-degree preheated oven until dried.

Check Prices. Remember — take the time to shop around and compare prices and services. Before selecting a veterinarian, take a look at the doctor’s prices and get an estimate for common services from a few different vets in the area. How Stuff Works recommends foregoing medicine from your vet, where mark-ups can exceed 100 percent. Instead, opt for an online store, such as 1-800-PetMeds or PetCareRX, which provide the same products for less.

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