pet on a budget

It’s easy to get caught up in the cute accessories and expensive toys that are the typical fare at pet stores—and really, who can say no to a cute pair of puppy eyes or refuse a bunny nose bump? But before you know it, you’ve blown your entire month’s budget buying the cat a fancy automated mouse toy and an adorable sweater for your puppy. While not all of us can afford a regular BarkBox or BestFriendBox subscription, it doesn’t mean you can’t pamper your pet on the regular; all it takes is a little resourcefulness. Here are some tips to keep your pet happy without hurting your wallet.

  • Know your pet’s needs vs. its wants. When splurging for extras on your pet, keep your budget in mind. If you find it’s important that your furry loved ones have a more expensive specialty food, allot for it in the budget and cut corners elsewhere. Don’t skip out on preventative care (flea/heartworm medication) or regular trips to the vet.

  • Buy major supplies in bulk when you can. For large, one-time purchases, consider shopping around online, at secondhand shops, and even on Craigslist or on other classifieds.

  • Your furry pal doesn’t always need name-brand goodies. Resist the temptation to buy that adorbs Martha Stewart plush bed for your dog and opt for the cheap-o dollar store one. Not only will your pet not notice the difference, but it’ll leave some wiggle room in your budget.

  • Pet stores aren’t the only places to buy toys. You can find cheap toys at dollar stores and some discounted online retailers. Inexpensive toys usually withstand as much wear-and-tear as their more expensive counterparts.

  • If you own an uncommon pet and find it hard to buy specialty items, the same rule applies. Drs. Foster and Smith has a wide range of goods for more than just dogs and cats, and they frequently run specials and sales throughout the year. Plus, if you buy $50 worth of merch, you get free shipping. It’s super convenient for buying in bulk and saves the repeated trips to the store.

  • Some of the best toys are handmade from leftovers lying around your abode. Newspaper and cardboard can be converted into fascinating playthings.

  • Research what human foods are healthy for your pet, and use them as treats instead of junk food from the pet store. Alternatively, incorporate these foods into your diet as well so leftovers don’t go unused.

  • You don’t need to spend money to make your pet feel special. Regular grooming sessions and one-on-one playtime is the easiest way to show them you care.

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Keep in mind that you should only buy toys marked pet-safe that are an appropriate size for your pet. Regular stuffed animals, for example, may contain stuffing that is toxic when ingested, and small parts such as eyes can dislodge and be swallowed.

Owning a pet is an expensive endeavor, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first glance. The basic necessities (food, water, litter and regular veterinary care) are enough to keep an animal alive, but they can become bored and destructive if they don’t receive enough mental and physical stimulation. Make sure to give your furry friend lots of love and attention, and never underestimate the power of a good clearance sale!

Photo credit: Rachael Tulipano