Everyone knows that dogs are a big financial responsibility, and people should make sure they can afford adequate care for their pups before bringing them home. However, it doesn’t mean that pet parents can’t look for ways to save some money along the way. Here are 10 easy penny-pinching ways to save money as a dog owner, without sacrificing your pup’s health, happiness, or quality of life.
1. DIY Toys
As much as dogs love toys, the thing they love most is playing with you! Whether you spend $25 on a super-delux-heavy-duty toy (hey, we all have), or knot one of your old T-shirts for a game of tug, your pup’s favorite toy is usually whichever one that the two of you are playing with.
Stuff an old sock with an empty water bottle for some crinkly, sensory fun, or let your pup destroy the paper towel roll before you throw it away (just make sure she doesn’t eat the pieces). Whenever I finish a jar of peanut butter (xylitol-free, of course), I let my dog lick it to her heart’s content before I toss it. However, I always keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn’t start chewing the plastic and swallowing the pieces.
You can also consider re-gifting old stuffed animals or pillows for your pooch. Not only will she love that it smells like you, when she inevitably tears it to shreds, at least you’ll know you didn’t waste any money on it.
2. DIY Food Puzzles
Food puzzles are awesome for a couple reasons: they stimulate your pup’s mind, provide him with a snack (and an incentive to play), and encourage him to eat slower. The Huffington Post describes a simple DIY game you can make with things you already have: put treats in a muffin tin and cover each pocket with a ball or toy. Simple and fun!
3. DIY Treats
You don’t have to be a good baker to whip up a batch simple, healthy biscuits for your pup! Not only will you save money, you’ll have peace of mind knowing exactly what her treats are made from and where they were manufactured: your kitchen!
Your pooch will go “nuts” for these Peanut Butter Puppy Biscuits.
Huffington Post also suggests making your own jerky by placing thin slices of meat (or sweet potato) in an oven set at 145 degrees for six hours.
What’s more, there are lots of fruits and veggies that are great for your dog. Whether you treat your dog to a few blueberries or put bananas or apples in the freezer for a frosty treat, fresh produce is a low-cal, high-nutrient choice for snacks! Just be aware that fruits and veggies are toxic to pets, so check out this list of foods you can safely share with your pooch!
4. DIY Dog Beds
There are a few different ways to make your own dog bed, including from old clothes. The tutorial below shows you how to make one with a long-sleeved T-shirt.
But if your dog is larger, consider this no-sew option, which you can make in any size.
5. Supplement Your Dog’s Food
Even if you can’t cook all your dog’s food, you can still supplement his diet with healthy, fresh foods for a healthy and cost-effective way to nourish your pet. In light of pet food scams and recalls, it’s important to choose a high-quality dog food, but of course, this can be pricey. Consider adding some dog-friendly “human” foods or pup-safe produce to your dog’s dish. This way, you’ll go through less kibble and save money without skimping on nutrition.
Interested in going the raw route? Check out 5 Things You Need To Know About Raw Diets.
(As always, consult with your vet before changing your dog’s diet or feeding him or her anything new.)
6. Groom At Home
Sometimes it’s necessary to go to the groomer, like if you have a dog with hair that needs regular trims, or if your pup doesn’t let you clip her nails. But depending on the dog, there may be some maintenance you can do at home. Maybe you can wash your pup at home and leave the nail trimming to the pros — but at least you’ll only have to pay for one service. And if your pup needs regular haircuts, opt for styles that don’t need maintenance for several weeks.
Try these 5 hacks for grooming your dog at home, as advised by a groomer.
7. Cut (Financial) Corners At The Vet
Vets are notoriously expensive, yet no amount of money is worth sacrificing the best care for our canines. With that said, there are many great ways to cut medical costs without risking your pup’s health and safety. Check out 10 Vet-Recommended Ways To Save Money On Your Dog’s Medical Care for money-saving tips!
8. Consider Buying Pet Supplies Online
Not only is it easy to get Fido’s food and goodies delivered to your door, it may be more cost-effective too. Lots of pet supply sites offer discounts, coupons, and free shipping over a certain amount. Then, there are sites like Ebates through which you can earn cash back off of purchases, or you can opt to pay with a cash back card. I find it’s useful to place one big order a month with food, toys, and treats, which qualifies me for discounts and free shipping.
When you typically spend $1,300 a year (or more!) on your pup’s care, a little extra savings and cash back can really add up!
9. Shop After – Holiday Sales
Searching for discounted merchandise may seem like a no-brainer, but lots of stores drastically mark down themed toys once the holidays are over. Your pooch won’t care if you gift her with a squeaky Santa after Christmas or a plush heart after Valentine’s day. Just beware of food, treats, or chews that have reduced in price – they’re still sitting on the shelf for a reason, and may have passed their expiration date.
10. Make Your Pet Purchases & Charitable Donations A Two-In-One
If you love spoiling your pet and supporting good causes, why not do both at the same time? Part of the purchases made at the iHeartDogs store fund charities, such as Rescue Bank (which feeds hungry shelter dogs), Pets For Vets, K9 medical aid, pet cancer research, Project Play, and more. When you spend your donation money at iHeartDogs, your pooch will benefit, too!
Do you love learning tips and tricks for caring for your canine? Check out 20 Dog Hacks To Make Life Easier On You & Your Pup.