13 ways to save money on pet costs

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If you’ve got a furry friend in your life, you know the joy that a pet brings. But you know the bills that pet costs can bring, too!

Here on Team Clark, we know a lot about saving money. And not only do we love our cats, dogs and fish — and we also know a thing or two about how to save money on them.

Favorite money-saving tips on pet costs from the staff at Clark.com

1. Set up a pet emergency fund

This is a good alternative to pet insurance.


“We started a savings account for our two dogs, Casey (Dachshund) and Abby (Yorkie). We have pet insurance that helps offset large pet costs — like Casey’s $3,000 back surgery — but knowing we have money set aside keeps us from panicking and dipping into our own emergency fund when there’s a large, unexpected bill. Each of us contributes to this savings account just like we do our own, only we had a set goal amount we wanted to reach. Once we hit our goal, we stopped putting money away but maintain the balance goal by replenishing any funds we have to withdraw.”

– Chelsea

2. Look for vet schools

“If there’s a university veterinary school nearby, it’s probably worth it to bring your pet there for surgery.”

– Beth

3. Comparison shop vet prices

“When I first started looking for vet offices to take my dogs for their annual checkups, I got quotes from four different vets to find the best price. The cost varied by about $200 between the most expensive and the least expensive vet.”

– Sarah

two dogs

4. Check with your local shelter about free & budget care

A lot of shelters offer free or low-cost spay, neuter and vaccinations. They can also give you a list of low-cost veterinary clinics in your area.


5. Stay current on your pet’s preventative medicine

Paying a little bit now for your pet’s flea and heartworm prevention is much less expensive than paying thousands of dollars for heartworm treatment later on in life.

6. Shop online for prevention medicine

I always buy my pet’s monthly medicine on 1-800-PetMeds. It’s much cheaper than buying straight from the vet and there is always a 20% off coupon.

7. Think outside the (cereal) box

“Sometimes we run out of koi food and we give them Cheerios instead.”

– Grace


8. Make your own DIY toys

“My friend who’s an arborist showed me a neat way to make your own toys. He uses his leftover climbing rope and ties it in knots to make toys for his pup. It lasts much longer than rope toys you buy at the pet store and it’s so much cheaper! You can find similar rope at hardware and home improvement stores.”

– Sarah

9. Wait for the deals

“At first I didn’t think I had anything for this article, but I did get an awesome deal on a cat tree. Just looking for a deal or waiting until a sale to buy your pet something can save money. I got this as a daily deal on Amazon!”

– Charis

cat tree

10. Buy dog food, cat litter and more from seed and feed stores

Local seed and feed stores sell high-quality bulk dog food for about $10 less than PetSmart or PetCo. Those savings really add up over time.

But the savings don’t stop with dogs. If you have cats, try the pine pellet horse bedding that your local seed and feed is bound to sell.


pine pellet horse bedding

It makes a wonderful odor-neutralizing cat litter and you can generally get twice as much of the stuff for less than you’d pay at the supermarket for pine litter.

In addition, if you need to deworm a dog, most seed and feeds sell the same active ingredient (fenbendazole) in paste form for horses at a cheaper price. The seed and feed can tell you how little of it you need for your dog, based on weight.

11. Measure the food you’re giving

A lot of people just fill up their dog’s food bowl without paying attention to how much food they’re giving to their dog. But using a measuring cup along with the portion size recommendation on the back of the bag ensures you’re not feeding your dog (or cat) too much. That way, you won’t use the bag up too quickly.

12. Add some raw veggies to your dog’s diet

If your dog doesn’t have dietary restrictions, you can try adding fresh veggies to their kibble. Research has shown that adding veggies like carrots, peas, green beans and broccoli can help reduce a dog’s cancer risk by up to 70%.

13. Skip the pill pockets and get this cheaper alternative

Products like Greenies Pill Pockets make giving your dog medication so much easier, but that convenience comes at a steep price — about $10 for a 30-day supply. Here’s a cheaper way: Just dip your dog’s pill in a $2 jar of peanut butter from Aldi and have them lick it off your finger or a spoon.

– Michael

Just one word of warning: Anytime you’re giving peanut butter to your pet, you’ll want to read the label carefully. The Food and Drug Administration says this common sugar substitute can be lethal to dogs.

Meanwhile, to save even more money when it’s time to give meds, compare prices to see if you can find cheaper pet medications. Free tools like GoodRx for Pets will do the hard work for you.


Final thoughts

Pet costs are a part of owning a pet. But you’re not captive to paying high prices for everything when it comes to your furry little friend.


If you are looking for more ways to save, please check out our full list of ways to save money.