Our beloved greyhound, Gracie (better known as Frugal Hound), passed away a year ago and I thought it would be a fitting tribute to devote a Reader Suggestions to the topic of frugal pet care. I miss everything about Frugal Hound. Compiling your advice and seeing your adorable pet photos was a wonderful way to celebrate the integral, loving role that pets play in our families.
Over the years, Frugal Hound inspired a series of posts on thoughtful, budget-conscious pet care:
- Frugal Pet Ownership Starts Before You Even Get A Pet: this post discusses the importance of researching what type of pet will work best with your family and lifestyle. As quite a few readers note below, understanding what breed will mesh best with your lifestyle is an excellent way to cut costs and, ultimately, provide a pet with the best possible quality of life.
- Our Approach To Affordable, Responsible Dog Care: my comprehensive rundown of everything we did–from tip to tail–to care for Frugal Hound cheaply but responsibly.
- Weekly Woot & Grumble: To Swap A Hound: how we swapped dog-sitting services with friends and never (not even once!) paid to board Frugal Hound while we were out of town.
- Frugal Hound Costs $930.35 Annually: a line by line breakdown of Frugal Hound’s annual expenses.
- I’m Frugal, Should I Get A Pet?: a questionnaire I put together for folks considering first-time pet ownership.
Welcome to my monthly Reader Suggestions feature! Every month I post a question to our Frugalwoods Facebook group and share the best responses here. The questions are topics I’ve received multiple queries on and my hope is that by leveraging the braintrust of Frugalwoods nation, you’ll find helpful advice and insight. Join the Frugalwoods Facebook group to participate in next month’s Reader Suggestions!
Without any further ado from me, let’s see what advice you all offered up this month!
How Frugalwoods Readers Care For Their Pets Frugally And Responsibly
I attempted to divide the advice up into categories although, as you’ll see, most readers cover a range of topics in their responses.
Medications And Vet Care
Jackie said, “We shop around for medications for our dog. We get her Bravecto from Australia (pets-megastore.com.au) – it’s $50+ cheaper for a year’s worth! We get her heartworm meds and her shots from the clinic at the shelter we adopted her from. Our town also offers a free rabies clinic every year!
We don’t have pet insurance but I do have a $1,000 dog health sinking fund so we have some money set aside for any emergency vet care. We mostly bring her on vacation with us – we camp in pet-friendly cabins. Otherwise, my mom stops in to take care of her if it’s just an overnight.”
Allison wrote, “This is Lola, our miniature dachshund. We searched for a vet that would care for her and charge less than the $300 we had been paying for her yearly check-up and shots. Now we drive farther into the city to a no-frills vet and her last visit with shots was $80. It also helps to have a tiny dog (she’s 7lbs) that doesn’t eat much and has short hair. We do any grooming at home and spend about $16 every couple months for her bag of food. (Lola says, Go Chiefs!!!).”
Jennifer shared, “I have been in the veterinary industry for 25 years. I commend pet owners who are wisely frugal. Where not to be frugal? Routine wellness and acute medical care, parasiticides, preventives and dog food. We have had patients who’s owners have decided to make their own food, but.. it is not as easy as dismantling a rotisserie chicken. It requires a gram scale and measuring raw supplements and minerals. But, if a pet owner is willing and able, more power to you!
If you are looking for a reputable OTC dog food, with excellent quality control, Purina Pro Plan is great. Most reputable veterinarians do follow the AAHA, AAFP and AVMA vaccine administration guidelines. This includes a 3 year vaccine rotation of a distemper combo for both cats and dogs, after the initial puppy/kitten series and the first adult booster on or about 14-18 months of age. Do your best to cut costs, where it won’t negatively affect your pets health and well being. Always remember- be an educated and aware pet owner, but never confuse a Google search with a Veterinarians medical degree. Keep loving your fur babies!”
Karen shared, “I go to low cost vaccine clinics for routine shots. At the very least it saves me the $50 cost of an office visit which is always in addition to the vaccines. I follow a particular mobile vet but there is always a clinic going on somewhere in my area.”
Em wrote, “We have 3 dogs, (L to R in the photo) Sawyer, Scout, and Bali. We believe that investment up front with them saves $$ in the long run, so they’re fed a relatively expensive, highly rated grain free food. We are fortunate to live in a larger city with multiple vet offices, so we called around and interviewed them regarding prices and policies before picking the best one that offered the widest range of hours, cheapest pricing, best flexibility as far as “required” services, and great customer service. We do grooming, bathing and nail trims ourselves.
We take them walking and hiking often to keep them healthy and active. Fortunately both of our families are big dog lovers, so if we travel and are unable to take them, they get babysat like grandkids 😂. As far as toys go, the only things we buy are antlers. They’re more expensive up front, but they’ll last 1-3 months each, whereas other toys last between 5-45 minutes 😂. While it may seem like having dogs isn’t the most frugal choice… they’re far cheaper than the therapist I would need otherwise!”
Terri wrote, “This darling spoiled 17 1/2 year old girl… found underneath the hood of my car when she was barely a month old… simply gets whatever she wants. I do use coupons/ etc where I can, but she has gotten much more finicky in her old age. Food… this is a mix of whatever she will eat based on age and finickiness. Right now she eats a lot of roast pork, chicken, turkey, canned cat food and cat treats. The vet says whatever she will eat. She has always been an itty bitty cat.
Her little sweater was bought at a thrift shop. She has several cat trees in the house… all gifted to her. She had a pet bed next to nearly all radiators in the house… some gifted, and some purchased inexpensively. Toys… she is a typical cat… a box and a piece of yarn entertain her for hours. I buy handmade cat nip bags at a local farmers market for 50 cents. Vet care.. . She gets her annual care. Now in her old age she is having some obvious issues. I draw a line at how much crazy testing we will do on an old cat. As I tell my vet… you should be able to take your best guess based on physical exam and blood work and treat from there. There will be no ultrasounds, MRIs… My goal is for her to be happy and comfortable. So we do go to the vets if she seems uncomfortable or different.
Last cat I had suffered from kidney failure. I learned to do the subcutaneous fluid injections at home myself. The vet wanted to charge me $30 a bag for saline. I’m a nurse, so I talked to my pharmacist and found they paid less than $2 a bag for saline. I found an online vet medical supplier at $8 a bag. I told my vet I realized they needed to stay in business, but I was unwilling to pay a markup from $2 to $30, and that if he would write me a prescription, I could get the fluid for $8 a bag… he ended up selling me the bags for $8. At any rate, my cat is truly my one priceless treasure.”
Betsi wrote, “Our farm and ranch store does pet vaccine clinics every month for cats and dogs. It cost a fraction of what it cost to take them to the vets. The do a wellness check plus their vaccines!”
Jennifer shared, “My fur babies do the wellness plan with Banfield in petsmart. It has really helped keep everything consistent through lots of military moves. We have been really lucky to have loved the vets that they have on staff.”
Pet Insurance: Yay or Nay?
Donna wrote, “I have 3 dogs. We don’t have a ton of toys. They destroy them quickly anyway. The ones we do have a rubber tough ones or stuffing free ones and we usually get them online (chewy, petedge, etc). Learn to cut nails, brush teeth, etc. Will save $$ on grooming.
Petsmart will price match any of their own online prices and their online prices are almost always cheaper (but chewy, Amazon,etc. are usually still cheaper). Pet supplies plus is where I usually shop if going to a store.. they price match from anywhere including online and are cheaper than the petsmart, Petco, etc. I don’t skimp on food. Good quality food keeps them healthier overall. I feed canidae and merrick, but every dog is different and some tolerate things differently. Definitely meal feed and keep weight healthy… another way to lower vet costs.
The one thing that I wholeheartedly advocate for is a good insurance. Get it as soon as possible because pre-existing conditions are excluded and of course it’s cheaper the younger your dog is. I have family and friends who don’t agree, but even if you put that $$ in a savings account, it only takes 1 thing to wipe you out and I never want to be in the position to make a decision about the life of my dog because of $$. I also just proved how worth it it is. My youngest was just diagnosed with Addison’s 4 weeks ago. Suddenly everything I ever spent for his insurance I got back in a single weekend of care because of how sick he was. And all his future needs (meds and blood work) will be covered at 80%. Even if I had never used it… still there’s a huge benefit to peace of mind.”
Jayne said, “No pet insurance, we did the math, it doesn’t pay. We have a Care Credit credit card for vet & for human dental — no interest if charges are over $300 and paid off within 12 months. A better deal than insurance that we might not use. Showers at home. Nails & ears at home. Costco Store brand dry dog food, topped with veggie scraps from kitchen food prep (we are vegan). Co-op dog sitting with a friend (we have 4 littles & a tortoise, she has 2 bigs), no money ever exchanges hands. Low-cost vaccination clinic. Vet visits only when necessary. Toys on sale or clearance.”
Tamara shared, “Our dog Benton has anxiety and health issues. Since we know there a several costs for him, we chose to enroll in a pet care program at our local vet. We pay a relatively small monthly fee ($39) which covers his well checks, vaccines, annual teeth cleaning, etc. We also get discounts on various other services as well. We love Benton and want to keep him healthy and happy! ❤️🐶”
XMAS TREE Kelley wrote, “Both our dog and cat we came to for free. Dog was a puppy mix, which meant we needed all the vaccinations required for a new pup. We used Banfield’s 12mo insurance policy to cover his vaccinations, neutering, and vet visits, much cheaper than paying outright for each. Since then we payed for another 12mo policy for a specific medical issue and a rabies vac because we felt like there was a cost advantage. Our cat we got from a SPCA which had a free adoption weekend. Already spayed and had the majority of her vaccinations. Neither get groomed, we bath them ourselves. No food hacks outside of portion control (they get plenty of table scraps from our 2yr old). They board with family members if we’re ever gone for extended durations.”
Grooming and Claw Trimming
Jennifer said, “I just recently started grooming our dogs myself. I realized that buying the good quality clippers and tools that I needed would cost about the same as two groomings. So I did that, and then also spent $42 for one month of grooming videos and watched as many as I possibly could (invaluable!). Now I feel comfortable doing the whole grooming process, and I get better with the clippers and shears each time I try. It’s a pretty big cost savings considering that where we live, it’s $150 every time we get our two dogs groomed. That said, I also now have a healthy respect for how groomers earn their money! We do not have pet insurance, but keep funds allocated in our savings for vet visits and emergencies (I think this only works best if you start building those savings when they’re young). For boarding, we found a sitter we love from Rover. Here’s a pic of Digby and Annie.”
Jen wrote, “I definitely do our own grooming with the $25 dog clippers I bought several years ago. For food she honestly gets the regular dry food that’s not the cheapest, but not the most expensive. I often top it with some cooked veggies, yogurt, salmon/chicken skin, etc.
Her treats are usually homemade (super easy – and dogs don’t care what they look like!), a slice of cheese from the fridge, or a bag of something I picked up at a discount store like Marshalls. For vacations we usually have a friend watch her. Mostly we can manage an exchange with friends: we have watched their dog, so they also watch ours. If it’s just a two-day thing then our neighbor, whom we have a great relationship with, will willingly pop over while we’re gone. For the vet, I honestly don’t worry about price. I can usually finding free rabies clinics when it’s time for that. But otherwise, the vet I found has taken care of her with such great concern (she has some special issues), that I don’t care what it costs.”
Siera shared, “Jepson is my little scruffy buddy and goes almost everywhere with me! I adopted him from our local shelter almost 6 years ago, and the $90 adoption fee included neutering and his first shots. He gets good quality food, regular vaccinations at a local clinic, and plenty of exercise on walks.
He’s pretty low-maintenance and I do all of his grooming myself – brushing, bathing, nail clipping and teeth brushing (which he hates, so more often he gets dental sticks/chews to “clean” his teeth). He’s an indoor doggy and sleeps at my feet on the bed wrapped in his own blanket. He gets cold easily, so I’ve made him some jackets out of old sweatshirts and scrap material (I did buy one “puffy coat” for him on sale!) He’s a great traveling dog and a good hiking buddy, despite his small size! When we travel without him, he stays with my parents, who also adore him 🙂 He is more than worth every penny spent on him!!”
Melissa shared, “We buy toys on sale if we can and not often. One of the cheaper but still good pet food. She has vet visits once a year for a check up. No pet insurance. If we go away friends/family take care of her for us. We also have a friend who is kind enough to trim her nails for free!”
Katie shared, “I love this question and actually most of what we do comes from you! Before I read Frugalwoods, we did the most expensive dog food and our pup was groomed every 3-ish months at $80/time 😳 now we do the grooming ourselves along with Sam’s Club brand dog food which turns out to have the exact same ingredients 😏 We got a second dog recently so now have two dogs and our budget still comes out less than when we had one and weren’t DIY-ing the grooming. Our next endeavor is to learn more about dog training as ours have had some issues with resource guarding and a lot of what we read says to get professional help. So we’re researching and trying some tactics ourselves first and then will get a trainer if that doesn’t work. The photo is a before and after of our puppy’s first time getting groomed (saving us $80!).”
Allison wrote, “I bought clippers for around $100 to clip my cocker spaniel. At Petsmart it routinely cost $75 plus tip. It took me a while to learn and probably wasn’t as fast, but I could clip her more often than I would take her to be groomed.”
Adopting Your Pet
Donna wrote, “Adopting vs breeder is the way to go unless you have a reason to need a purebred dog. Adoption fees are less expensive than breeder fees and it will include their shots up to that point and often their spay/neuter.”
Shaunna wrote, “This is Roscoe! The only frugal thing about him is that I adopted him from my local animal shelter for $99 which included all shots, vet visit, microchipping, and would’ve also included neutering, except he has a bad heart and cannot have anesthesia. All of that for $99 is a great value, if you were to put a price on a family member. I knew he’d have health problems when I adopted him and he sees a vet cardiologist yearly, takes daily heart medication, and is also on prescription food. While none of that is remotely frugal, it’s an area I do not scrimp on so he can feel his best and keep his health from worsening. I do trade pet sitting with my parents and sister which does save on pet babysitting. He also only likes one specific toy which I sew a few times before I give in and buy him a new one.”
Beth advises, “ADOPT don’t SHOP! Research your breeds before deciding on any dog. Pick a dog that matches your lifestyle. Long furred dogs will need brushing and grooming. High energy dogs will need plenty of exercise or daycare. Many purebred dogs have health problems due to inbreeding (German shepherds prone to hip displasia, golden retrievers prone to cancer, snub-nosed dogs prone to heat exhaustion, small dogs prone to dental nightmares). All dogs need a home, but be sure you’re not supporting irresponsible breeding that leads to dogs having unhappy/unhealthy lives! AND that you have the $$ if regular vet visits are expected.
We adopted our pup from a Humane Society for FREE fully vaccinated, microchipped, neutered, and treated for ringworm (he was a stray). In his first four years of life we’ve only needed one trip to the vet when he ate a bunch of string (??) other than regular check ups. He’s got short fur so I bathe and trim his nails at home. We have Petco repeat delivery set up for his food. We pay $35 yearly to support our local dog parks, which we go to weekly and are beautiful places to hike! I run with him every morning to ensure he’s tired and won’t destroy the apartment while we’re out. Instead of expensive dog treats we use hot dogs or leftovers, which he is thrilled about. Last year we spent $687 on food/vet bills/licensing/etc. – worth every penny!”
Lisa’s dog was, “Adopted from a kill free shelter. 10 dollars included spay and chip.”
Allison wrote, “After my beloved Australian Shepherd rescue died, we decided our next dog would be a dog small enough for us to easily carry, as trying to carry an aging 50-60 lb dog and get her in and out of a car wasn’t easy for her or us.
Bonus: It had not even occurred to me that a smaller dog EATS LESS FOOD!! So, dog selection is key. Our guy likes food puzzles. He’s wicked smart. Those things are expensive! We buy some new, occasionally swap with friends, and also make up our own. We use old holey socks and tie up food in them, hide them for him to find. We’ve also made DIY puzzle boxes by stuffing treats into cardboard tubes, other small boxes, etc, and then letting him have at it. So good for his little hunter brain! Jack Russel mixes need the stimulation!”
Aurelia wrote, “In 2016 we were adopted by a 6 year old greyhound/shepherd/lab mix. First of all we saved money by adopting from a rescue rather than buying a dog from a breeder. We found a reputable rescue that matched us with the perfect dog for our needs and they even delivered her from Florida to Rhode Island ( we ❤️ No Paw Left Behind rescue). We also saved money by adopting an adult dog (no peepee pads, no training fees, she is perfectly independent and ready to spend the day on the couch while we are at work therefore we don’t need a walker). She came to us with allergies and we worked through multiple diets until, with support from our vet, we decided to cook her food in house and give her vitamins to make sure she isn’t lacking anything in her diet.
For grooming, I do everything myself: baths, clip her nails ( we tried the drill but she was terrified of it), I clean her teeth with a scraper and brush them in order to avoid having to put her under anesthesia as it’s dangerous for older dogs. For toys she has her balls and elk bones to chew on. She doesn’t get treats (allergy reason). In order to keep her stimulated we try to walk her 3-4 miles a day for 1-2 hours and take her to the beach as often as possible. I guess we saved on the dog bed too cause she sleeps in bed with us, perched all the way up on our pillows. We love her to pieces and she is very much worth the $800-$1000 we spend every year. From my point of view she is saving us a lot more than what we spend on her by being my partner in crime and keeping me healthy both mentally and physically. Nina spent a year in Miami Dade shelter and she was in line for euthanasia 3 times. From having to go through that she came out with a will to live and a “joie de vivre” that she is truly an inspiration for us and a reminder to be grateful for everything we have.”
Food and Treats
Erin shared, “Dogs love carrots 🥕. A bag makes for frugal and healthy snacks!”
Jennifer wrote, “I have two cats, Penny and Nora, who are spoiled. When I travel, my roommate watches them. If she’s not available, I have a friend who lives nearby that will stop in to care for them. I usually get her a gift card to the grocery store to say thank you but it’s much cheaper than the $30/day for other pet sitting services. I price compared so I order their canned food on chewy.com. I get litter and grain free dry food at Costco. Nora has digestive issues so I’ve had to pay for more expensive hypoallergenic dry food for her but I figure it saves me money in the long run because without it she was needing emergency trips to the vet every few months and those add up quick! I don’t have pet insurance but I found a local vet who is wonderful and reasonably priced.”
Karen said, “We have always bought top quality dog/cat food. No ‘treats’ in their lives, except toys. Once a year visit for shots, have friends/family care for them when we are away, and do all bathing, etc ourselves. I do splurge every few months for nail clipping on dog. The cats lived a healthy 21 years, 22 years, one lab 14 years, and now second lab is 15 1/2. I have a theory that a lot of dogs are overfed, which leads to a lot of health problems. Nobody can believe my current lab is 15, she has no health issues and looks like she’s about 6 or 7.”
Caroline wrote, “We realised the supermarket-brand dog food we were buying for our dogs was sub-optimal, but couldn’t afford the premium stuff by any remote stretch, and where we are (in South Africa), there just isn’t the competitive range, SO we researched smaller, less-well-known brands sold by local small business owners (all meeting the required standards obviously, licensed and so on) and found one that is virtually indistinguishable in terms of nutritive value from the ”one the vets recommend” but much, much less costly.
It took a bit of trial and error, but we have found that this, supplemented a few times a week with a tablespoon-per-dog of (meat-based, not garden!) bone meal keeps our dogs fit and healthy. I definitely would recommend getting pet insurance AS SOON as you get a pet, while they’re still young. We didn’t with our two older dogs and now the cost is prohibitive.
We have done with our cat (got her at under-1) and much of the foreseeable vet expense is at least mostly offset. Will do this in future for any new pets.”
Katie wrote, “The vet said my dog needed to lose some weight and suggested trading some of her dry food for wet food. Since she’s little, I couldn’t buy the larger, more economical cans of dog food and had to constantly buy the little cans.
Between the time and money I constantly spent on small cans of dog food, I figured it’d be cheaper, faster, and healthier to make her wet food myself. I boil chicken and veggies, which she loves, and store it in small containers in my freezer. Since I make her food, I never worry about food recalls or needing to read reviews or labels to ensure she’s eating healthy food. And I get to keep the chicken broth for soups! My neighbor volunteers at a local animal shelter and suggested I visit their weekend clinic to update my dog’s vaccinations, which cost about 1/3 of what my vet charges. She saved me a fortune!”
Hope shared, “This is our fluffy princess Hilda. Here are things we do to keep costs reasonable while still making sure she has the best life possible:
1) find a good vet that you trust. Our last cat was very elderly (lived to 21!) and we found a vet that we loved and trusted who always talked through different treatment options and was upfront about costs. If she recommended something we knew it was important.
2) we adopted Hilda, so $0 for adoption fees, and she was already fixed. All we had to pay for was annual vaccines.
3) we do feed her wet food, as it seems that’s an important factor for cats, but I compared ingredients and discovered that the ultra cheap store brand has the same ingredients and nutrition profile as the expense brand names, so she gets HEB’s finest cat dinners.”
Martha said, “This handsome cat has prescription food for kidney stones. I trim his claws, and he sees his vet every year. I buy special litter that colors if he has a urine problem beginning so I can catch it early and take him to vet. He is not a frugal cat, but I love him so much. Anything for his health.”
Kristen shared, “I have 3 pups. I feed them a high-quality food as that’s their primary source of nutrients (you know, other than poop and stuff). 🙂 I also have them vaccinated at the vet. I don’t buy dog treats. What they get are carrot pieces and they absolutely love them! They’re also huge fans of peanut butter and almond butter, so they get Kongs every so often. I used to save when we traveled by swapping dogs. A friend has 3 as well so she’d watch mine or I’d watch hers. It worked out wonderfully until she moved away. Much sadness. I have yet to find this trade system again. I do have someone who adores my big ole guy, so he’s always set, but their fence isn’t ok for the littles. I often take one little with me and the other goes to whomever we can find to watch him. I do also have a woman who stays in my home for $30/day to watch all 3 which is way cheaper than most other options. All 3 of my hounds were rescues. They’re the best kind!”
Emily wrote, “My best tip is to stop buying those either horrible quality or over-priced treats and make some yourself. My go to is a $5 chicken (raw or rotisserie). I pick off meat for 1-2 meals for us, boil the carcass for 5-6 hours, pick out the bones, save the broth for meal time, and the tons of extra meat that falls off the bones for treats. Just put it in a Tupperware in the fridge. I usually lasts a whole week for my 5 dogs. And I take the broth and either we eat it or I mix it in with their dry dog food. It goes sooooo far. Can’t beat it for $5.”
Pet Boarding, Babysitting, and Travel
Jan introduced us to, “Robbie the whippet! A sweet boy! Whippets tend to be low maintenance and total couch potatoes. Regular baths in the tub and trimming nails with a Dremel. Food is from Costco, Kirkland lamb and rice, treats and jerky. Annual visits to the vet. Robbie is my fifth whippet. My previous whippets required more care as they aged and Robbie will as well.
For me, the key is once you make a commitment, they rely on you to be there for them and provide them with good care. They provide such unconditional love and rely on us to do the same, even when it is time to say goodbye. When I travel, I have a trusted friend who cares for Robbie in my home.”
Stefanie shared, “I have 2 friends that I have an arrangement with. When I am out of town, they come to my home and care for my furry buddies and vice versa. So we barter pet care.
It is indeed possible to price check vets to be sure you get the best deal on services, so we did. When I adopted our neighborhood stray cat, now named Shady, 10 years ago, I took her to the Humane Society’s low cost spay/ neuter/vaccination clinic where she was also tested for FIV. It cost about $80 compared to the $250 it would have cost at my vet for all of those services.
We don’t have pet insurance. Over the last 11 years, we have only had 3 unscheduled vet trips which cost a total of $350…all for Puff. Puff came from the Humane Society where he had vaccines, microchip, and neuter services, all for the low price of $60. I don’t buy toys, they have fun with free stuff.”
Lieu introduced us to, “My spaniels. I groom them every six weeks. The spaniel on the left has food allergy so we feed them Holistic Select Adult Health Duck Meal which is not cheap but they are happy and healthy. We take them with us when we go on vacation to save money on kenneling.
We do have pet insurance in case of surgery. We try to be frugal with them as much as we can. They are our world and we love them very much.”
Emma wrote, “These are our three. 14 years, 3 years, and 2 years. It is a lot, but they found us.
We buy locally made dog food which is very high quality and much cheaper because it is local (Fromm’s adult gold, about $45/33lb and every 12th bag is free). Because it is high quality, they do not need as much and hopefully will have longer and healthier lives. For toys, we only have 3. An XL kong, a large chuck-it ball, and a Nyla bone.
These are the only long-lasting toys we have had success with and we have only had to buy one of each so far. The bone prevents dental issues as well. We do most of the recommended preventative care, especially because they spend a lot of time in the water and woods. When we go away, we have family dog-sit or a friend (which is much cheaper than boarding them and they aren’t potentially exposed to diseases in a kennel). Not that other ways of raising pets are wrong, but this is what we’ve found works for us 🙂.”
Thank you to everyone (human and otherwise) who contributed their advice this month! NOT TO MENTION THE PHOTOS!!!!
The overarching theme threading through all of these comments is that caring for a pet frugally doesn’t mean neglecting an animal’s health or wellbeing.
There are ways to save money in nearly every aspect of life and that maxim holds true with our pets. You do need to bring focus and diligence to how you parent your pet and what you buy for them, but it is entirely possible to spend less and still have a thriving pet.
Here are the suggestions many readers highlighted and that I think provide an excellent overview of responsible, frugal pet care:
- Research breeds and types of pets before bringing a pet into your home. Determine what type of pet/breed will best fit in with your family, your lifestyle, your travel and work schedules, the size of your home and yard, whether or not you have children, your physical capabilities, and more.
- Adopt, don’t shop! When you’ve determined what type of pet will integrate best with your family, please consider adopting from the Humane Society, an animal shelter, or an animal rescue program.
- Find a reputable vet and don’t be afraid to shop prices around. Call vet offices to determine their prices for routine appointments as well as their familiarity with your pet’s breed/type/medical conditions.
Research the type of food your pet needs (with your vet’s guidance) and then work to find the least expensive option that’ll still provide the nutrients your pet requires. Frugal Hound did best with a grain-free diet and specifically with the Taste of The Wild Salmon and Sweet Potato kibble. We initially paid for this premium food until a wise Frugalwoods reader alerted us to the fact that Costco’s generic Nature’s Domain kibble contains (or, at least, it did at that time) the exact same ingredients as Taste Of The Wild. For a fraction of the price!
- DIY everything you can. Grooming, claw trimming, bathing, teeth brushing… all of this will pay dividends over time. Since these are repeated expenses, doing them yourself will save you money every single month for the duration of your pet’s lifetime. If you’re unsure about your grooming abilities, take to the internet and do research specific to your pet/breed.
- Create a pet swapping arrangement. If you ever travel without your pet, get together with friends who have pets (or who love pets) and coordinate a pet swapping system. When you go out of town, they watch your pet. When they go out of town, you watch their pet. This is what we did with Frugal Hound and we never once paid to board her, despite our rather robust travel schedule. We were the happy hosts of dogs of all sizes and types, which made for some hilarious and adorable memories. No money ever changes hands and the humans and animals are all happier for it.
Caring for a pet frugally entails creativity, resourcefulness, research, and compassion. It doesn’t involve skimping on veterinary care or required medications. The goal of raising a pet frugally isn’t to save as much money as possible. The goal is to be considerate of your pet’s specific needs while avoiding unnecessary expenses.