Saving Money on Pet Supplies

This is a guide about saving money on pet supplies. Whether you have a dog, cat, bird, fish or a more exotic pet, the supplies to keep them healthy and happy can really add up.

A golden retriever chewing on a bone.
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Beagle lying down with a small kitten.It's that time of year again. Time to take our old friend, a mutt whom we adopted at the pound twelve years ago, to the vet. He'll be excited until he gets there, but when it's over he'll happily leave with a treat and new vaccination tag. For me, however, the pain of the shots lingers a bit longer.

Last year we invested more than $150 in one single visit to our veterinarian. Add onto that the year's supply of flea and tick medicine, and he's topping $200. This year, with the economy the way it is we decided that everybody was cutting back, everybody.

The Shot

The first place we decided to cut our vet costs was at the vet itself. Knowing that our dog has been an exceptionally healthy animal who has been on routine worm medication, we opted to only have him vaccinated. At this point we'll recognize signs of serious illness; we've gotten to know him pretty well by now.

However, to vaccinate at our vet incurs a hefty office visitation cost as well as a slew of vaccines. Instead, we called our local chain pet store (Petco for our area) and asked about vaccinations that they offered. Luckily, they offer a Saturday clinic that provides all of the required vaccines for dogs and cats for $49. If we opt for the additional heartworm and other parasite check our bill still comes in under $75. The only cost? We have to arrive on a Saturday at 2pm and wait in line. Our trip to the vet takes well over an hour, so we figure we'll bring a book and find our place in line.

The Maintenance

Again, luckily we have a healthy pet. However, a few years ago we cut the cost of our flea and tick medicine by ordering it online. The exact same box arrives in our mailbox (just like the ad on TV claims) and we save nearly half the cost of buying it at the veterinarian. By purchasing a year's supply at once we save even more, sometimes getting a full month free. It pays for the shipping. If we combine orders from our family and buy all the dogs' medicines for the year in one large order we receive free shipping and the months free. Not bad.

The Food

Before our dog became a permanent fixture on our couch (remember, he's twelve. That's the equivalent to an 84 year old man), he required more energy than a teenager. We were tempted by the ads for the high-priced dog food like Eukenuba and Iams. They touted benefits for the active dog and the growing dog.

However, before buying we talked to a very down to earth veterinarian who offered this test: Lay a handful of dog food on a non-waxed paper plate overnight. In the morning if the food left some greasy marks, it was a valuable dog food. He claimed that the brand name foods are only selling the brand and not the benefit.

However, he cautioned against foods that didn't have the level of moisture that showed on his test. One such food we quickly found was Ol' Roy marketed for Walmart stores as well as our local grocery store's generic Dog Chow. The same veterinarian recommended Purina or Alpo, but warned that the dog would decide which he preferred (Dogs must be like people deciding between Pepsi or Coke; it's either one or the other but not both.) We've been cycling through Purina Puppy Chow (yes, he's a Pepsi type of dog), Purina Dog Chow, and now Purina Senior. He seems happy with it, and at $8 a bag so are we.

The Love

Regardless what level of care you give, your pet will appreciate nothing more than your love. If he needs veterinary care, give it. If she needs special food for a sensitive stomach, feed it. Just love your pets; they'll love you back! (It's also not a bad idea to invest in an at-home care book which can save many trips to the vet for silly doggie things like swallowing a bee or cutting a paw. We've been there for both. The bee cost us $120.)

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I have learned to make do over the years with many things for the home. Often the results are better than what you could buy. For instance, I needed a scratching post for my cat, so I took an old board, nailed leftover carpeting onto it for an 8 foot long climber and scratching post. I lean it against the wall. You could also attach some carpeting, like a rug sample, to match your decor to a wall instead. Cats like to stretch out, so make it as long as possible.

For a litter box, I took a 10 gallon plastic bin with a snap-on lid, cut a doorway in one side with a knife 6 inches above the floor, and filled it with sawdust and wood shavings for my cat to use. The extra depth of the box helps to keep the litter inside. Wood shavings are free - ask at a lumber yard or wood-workers shop.

For cat toys, I make a small ball of aluminum foil for kitty to chase. The light weight is especially suited to cat's play. I also make a "catnip mouse" using a small drawstring cloth bag filled with cotton or crinkled cellophane. Tie it tightly closed and store it in a zip-lock bag with catnip for a week or so. It will absorb the scent, the cat will love it, and it is reuseable.

For a cat carrier I use an appropriate sized plastic bin with a snap on lid. I cut some 1 inch; holes in the sides for breathing, put an old towel in the bottom. For extra security, you may attach the lid by punching a hole in the lid and one in the box, adding a shoelace or string to tie the lid closed or just use some duct-tape. Now you can transport kitty to the vet in comfort.

By Jennifer from Gilbertsville, NY

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Cat collars, on the cheap! Use plain elastic! Tie it. The beauty of a piece of elastic is that it won't choke a cat and works as an expandable "breakway" collar. Another cheap collar: Cut off the ribbed tops of old socks. Make five collars per sock. Nice and soft! This should also be listed under "what to do with old socks!"

By Mary from Kensington, MD

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When my daughter moved into a apartment recently, they wouldn't let her have a pet. So, I am now the owner of a little Yorkie. She is so sweet and little. As she is so little, so is her bladder. In the daytime, it is not a problem, but at night, we put her in a playpen and put down newspaper and then a puppy potty pad. They are expensive!

So, I started thinking, what about a pad that you use, under people with problems. I bought a pack for about the same price, but they were twice as big. Problem solved. I cut them in half, as they were bigger, so now I have twice as many for the same price. They work just as good as the puppy pads and with the money I am saving, I buy her treats LOL.

By Dorothy from New Creek, WV

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To remove pet urine smells and stains from my carpet, I have always used a mixture of 2 parts distilled white vinegar to 9 parts water.

  1. Soak up the urine.
  2. Spray it with some Awesome Cleaner from the Dollar Store that has been diluted, and brush it into the carpet to remove the stain.
  3. Soak up the cleaner with an old towel.
  4. Spray on a heavy coating of the vinegar solution, throw a clean towel over that, and just let it dry. If the urine is in a place that does not get walked over you can leave the clean towel off.

By Marilyn from North Bend, OR

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Do you have any money saving tips for pet supplies? Share your ideas with the ThriftyFun community by posting feedback below.

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For those of us that can't sew or don't have time or have access to a machine. I have found a new bath mat at Wal-mart that would make a wonderful pet mat for inside a kennel,or carry kennel and is nice enough to put just on the floor. It comes in two sizes and several colors. Great for small or medium size pet.. What I like is that it is made with memory foam and covered with a soft cloth. It is machine washable and dryable. I would air dry this mat. It is very soft and spongey. Dogs or cats would love it. It is called Cloud 9 made by Mohawk and found in the home dept at Wal-mart. The small one cost around $ 12.98 plus tax and I bought a small brown one, This is 10.00 to 20.00 less than I saw for a actual pet mat the same size in the pet dept or at a pet store and not nearly as nice. My Mini Pin really likes his. He used to scrunce every thing he laid on. Now he uses this pad flat. It might have to do with the memory foam and it is more comfortable for him.

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Read More Answers...

I wanted to share the following websites and catalogs for the readers who might not be too thrilled with the prices at some of the big box chain pet stores. These three companies carry a good selection of pet products.

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I found a great company to order pet supplies from. It's name is Pet Edge. It is located in Woburn, MA. It also has an outlet store there. Things can also be ordered online. Check out their prices, it's amazing!

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Pets AdviceAugust 10, 2011
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