Editor’s note: Have you seen the new Dogster print magazine in stores? Or in the waiting room of your vet’s office? This article appeared in our February/March issue. Subscribe to Dogster and get the bimonthly magazine delivered to your home.
Let’s face it: As much as we love our dogs, pets can be expensive. Saving money sometimes feels impossible, but it can be done. To help give us all a jumpstart, I reached out to budget experts who spend their entire careers gathering tips on the best way to stretch a dollar. I asked each of them for one of their favorite ways to save on pet expenses. They didn’t disappoint!
Use discount gift cards and loyalty programs
Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized consumer and money-savings expert for Kinoli Inc., not to mention a loving dog mom. When Andrea shops for her Goldendoodle, Bauer, she doubles up whenever possible.
First, she hits discount gift card sites like Gift Card Granny, where you can purchase gift cards to pet-supply stores for up to 30 percent off. No one said gift cards can’t be gifts to yourself!
Gift Card Granny pulls together a number of card exchange sites allowing you to compare shop on gift cards. These exchange sites purchase unwanted gift cards from consumers and then turn around and sell them to you. The percentage you can get off a card varies, so using Gift Card Granny helps you find the best deal out there.
The next step is to sign up for loyalty programs at pet-supply stores you frequent. My keychain has so many mini loyalty cards attached to it that I have to double check with the checkout person where I am, so I can hand over the correct one!
Loyalty programs work differently for each store but almost always guarantee you weekly in-store deals. In addition, many loyalty programs reward you with additional savings the more you spend. Petco’s Pals Rewards, for example, gives you five reward dollars for each $100 you spend.
Buy prescriptions online
Regina Conway, consumer expert for Slickdeals.net and the proud pet parent to her adorable mixed-breed dog, Cricket, shared one of my favorite tips: Don’t purchase prescriptions from your vet. Of course, if your dog needs medication immediately, don’t hesitate to turn to your vet’s office. But ask if you can get a prescription, especially for ongoing medications, including flea and heartworm medication, and other high-cost drugs.
Shop around for a better price with one of the many online veterinary pharmacies, such as 1-800-PetMeds, Drs. Foster & Smith, or Pet Rescue Rx, which donates 100 percent of its net profits to rescues and shelters of the customer’s choice.
I once had to take a dog in my care to the vet to remove part of a tick that I had failed to fully get out. As a precaution, he put her on medication for Lyme disease. The vet didn’t stock it, so he sent me to my pharmacy to get it filled. When I received the quote from the pharmacy, I almost passed out. I purchased just enough to last me until I could have the medicine delivered by an online source. The savings were enormous!
On the flip side, sometimes certain drugs cost less when purchased from a human pharmacy compared to buying them from your vet or even a vet pharmacy. Do your research before buying.
Compare before you buy
Kimberly Palmer, author of The Economy of You (AMACOM, 2014), brought this tip — probably taught to you by your frugal grandfather — to the Internet age. Comparing before making online purchases is key. It’s something, admittedly, I don’t do enough of. But the cost of a product can vary considerably depending on who is selling it.
This principle applies to in-store purchases, too. The same can of dog food will have a different price at your grocery store, big box store like Target or Walmart, or pet-supply store. Regina advised checking prices online before purchasing in store. Pet supplies are often less expensive when purchased online (don’t forget to note the cost of shipping).
For even more online savings, search for coupon codes (digital coupons redeemable at checkout) on websites like RetailMeNot. Kimberly suggested looking at the app RedLaser to compare online prices and InvisibleHand, a browser add-on that helps ensure you’re getting the lowest online prices available. Excuse me while I go download Invisible Hand right now!
More easy tips
- Sign up for emails from your favorite retailers so you can stay up to date on their sales.
- Clip coupons from the Sunday paper. You can also print coupons from your computer (check out the Krazy Coupon Lady for a searchable database of printable coupons).
- Buy dog food in bulk. Try splitting the cost/amount with neighbors or friends.
- Learn to groom your dog yourself. One trip to the groomer can be the same cost as purchasing the tools you need to do the job yourself.
Read related stories on Dogster:
- How to Save Money on Dog Expenses
- 6 Ways to Save Money on Pet Expenses
- 10 Tips for Saving Money on Pet Expenses
About the author: Wendy Newell is a former VP of Sales turned Grade A Dog Sitter. After years of stress, she decided to leave the world of “always be closing” to one of tail wags and licks. Wendy’s new career keeps her busy hiking, being a dog chauffeur, picking up poo, sacrificing her bed, and other fur-filled activities. Wendy and her dog, Riggins, take their always-changing pack of pups on adventures throughout the Los Angeles area, where they live together in a cozy, happy home. You can learn more about Wendy, Riggins, and their adventures on Facebook and Instagram.