The love and companionship you get from your pet is priceless. But regardless of the benefits you can't put a price on, owning a pet can be very expensive. In fact, owning a dog can cost more than S$25,000 over 10 years. While there are some costs you shouldn't skimp on to ensure the health of your pup, there are a few costs you can cut back on to make pet ownership more financially manageable. Below, we explore 4 ways to decrease dog ownership costs without sacrificing your pet's quality of life.
Buy Quality Pet Food in Bulk
To ensure your pet's health, you should always be buying high-quality food with nutritious ingredients. Unfortunately, high-quality food is expensive, leaving lower-income pet owners to prioritise cost over food quality. However, low-quality dog food (identified by an ingredients list riddled with preservatives and non-protein based main ingredients) can lead to a myriad of health problems, including obesity. To save on food costs, you can buy quality dog food in bulk. Opting for bulk sizes can save you between 15-36% compared to buying smaller bags of the same brand of dog food.
Shop Around for Vets
Vets will be indispensable during your time as a pet owner. You'll depend on them for everything from your pet's vaccinations to solving emergency pet crises. While you certainly want to find the best vet for your pet, you should also take the time to compare pricing. This can be especially beneficial for routine check-ups and vaccinations since these procedures don't require expensive specialist care. For instance, there are a number of veterinarians who charge between S$218 and S$250 for routine sterilisation, which has an average cost of S$350. Low-income families may also seek help from the SPCA. Preventative care can save you thousands of dollars compared to treating a disease that wasn't caught early.
Don't Splurge on Accessories
While you may want your pup to look its best, one of the quickest and simplest ways to cut costs is to stop purchasing expensive collars, beds, toys and other accessories. Your dog should be comfortable and treated well, but there is no real benefit to buying your dog leather collars or investing in designer accessories—especially if it is above your budget. Instead, you should opt for a good quality dog collar and a simple tag to accompany your dog's microchip. Fancy S$75 leashes that offer no benefit beyond aesthetics can be avoided in favour of simple retractable ones that cost only S$35.
Lastly, instead of constantly spending money on dog toys that end up ignored and tripped over, you can consider learning more about your pet's breed to see what kind of toys they'll like. You can also consider getting a pet toy that can also be good for their health, such as a rope that also doubles as a dental hygiene tool. If you are truly stumped, you can start off with buying the classic Kong toy, an affordable S$10 toy that is good for a majority of dogs, can help with training, and is made with non-toxic materials.
Consider Grooming at Home
Unless your dog is constantly participating in dog shows, you can probably skip fancy grooming sessions. In fact, while grooming your dog is certainly important for your pet's health, there are a few basic grooming things you can do at home. These include nail clipping, ear cleaning, bathing and teeth cleaning. However, before you decide to start grooming your pet at home, you should invest in proper materials for your dog, as human versions (such as nail clippers or shavers) can hurt your pet. You should also do due diligence and learn how to properly groom your pet, which you can do for free by watching instructional videos. One thing you should be aware of is that dog breeds with long and thick hair will most likely require professional grooming to prevent matted fur.
Miscellaneous Ways to Save on Pet Care
Beyond cutting spending on certain aspects of your pet's life, there are also things you can do without having to cut spending. For instance, investing in a pet insurance policy can help prevent high out-of-pocket costs if your pet gets into an accident. Second, you should use your rewards credit card to get rewarded each time you spend on your pet. Lastly, you can focus on prevention rather than cure. This includes early obedience training, weight maintenance and routine medical care.
First published in Value Champion.