are approximately 70 million pet dogs and 74.1 million
pet cats in the U.S., according to the American
Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) 2012 U.S. Pet
Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. Six out of 10 pet
owners consider their pet a member of the family, but
between 2006 and 2011 the percentage of households that
did not take their pet to the veterinarian increased by
8 percent for dog owners and 24 percent for cat owners.
the average annual veterinary household expense hovering
at $375, not to mention other costs of pet ownership, it’s
not surprising that some pet owners are looking for ways
to save. But experts caution them to do it in ways that
will not endanger their pet’s health. Here, a range of
experts suggest ways to keep money in your pocket while
keeping your pet healthy.
CARE/ PREVENTATIVE CARE: "I think having access to
affordable vet care is becoming more and more
important," says Nancy Longacre, executive director
of PAWS Atlanta. "We are seeing more people use our
services, because people are a lot more sensitive to
their finances. From our perspective, it is good because
we want people to take care of their pets." PAWS
Atlanta offers low cost pet vaccine clinics twice per
month to get animals current on shots along with other
preventative care and services for pets including nail
trimming, micro-chipping, spaying and neutering, and
the Humane Society of the United States for other
organizations offering similar services.
you don’t want to go that route, try going to a
veterinary college to get discounted vet visits, says
Jon Lal, founder of Befrugal.com. The University of
Georgia Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Athens gets high
marks for affordable, quality care, though it may not be
convenient for everyone.
Compare the cost of drugstores or an online prescription
service to the price of getting medications at the vet,
Lal says. Longacre suggests trying 1-800-petmeds for
over-the-counter meds as a less expensive alternative to
"You want to be careful about places that say ‘x
dollars’ for boarding or day care and later tack on $5
here or $25 for your dog to play in the play yard. Find
a place that has upfront pricing and is all
inclusive," says Marie Bilthouse, spokeswoman for
the newly opened Camp Bow Wow Woodstock in Georgia.
you have multiple animals it may make sense to have a
pet sitter come to your home depending on the level of
activity needed for your pets. "We can do walks,
run the dogs, look after cats," she says of their
Home Buddies program.
"People think, ‘I am going to the grocery store
and buy the cheapest food,’ but that is like giving
your animal a Happy Meal every day," Longacre says.
"They can become obese. If you spend a little and
buy better food, your pet will be healthy."
Bilthouse suggests checking Dogfoodadvisor.com for
ratings of almost every brand of dog food out there.
a "Subscribe and Save" option with Amazon for
any recurring expense including pet food, says Lal. You’ll
get up to 15 percent off. Or purchase pet food at a
wholesale store like Costco. Always look for coupons and
sales and join reward programs at pet care stores, he
offers a pet food bank for individuals who cannot afford
quality pet food. Pet owners have to complete a form in
order to receive the free food, and their pet must be
spayed or neutered. "They can’t have a female in
heat who is giving birth to more litters. We make sure
they are being responsible pet owners," Longacre
says. "We’ll help, but they have to meet us