Penguin Pick of the Month: Adopt a Pet for Less

by | May 31, 2019

Charlie remembers desperately wanting a pet while he was growing up. But dogs and cats scared him, fish were tempting snacks, and it just didn’t seem right to put another bird in a cage. Nevertheless, Charlie wants to help his friends add non-human members to their family while sticking to their budget.

During his research, he found that while pet ownership can be expensive (potentially $1,000 or more per year), there are a few ways to keep the costs under control.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • A free animal isn’t free: Chances are, when you get a kitten or puppy from a friend, they haven’t been spayed, neutered, or vaccinated. You’ll have to pay a vet for these services, which could run you more than $300. (That cost doesn’t include microchipping, flea and tick treatment or optional vaccinations.) To save some cash, check out low-cost spay and neuter programs from the ASPCA.
  • Adopting from a shelter could save you money: While animal shelters may charge an adoption fee, it generally covers the medical costs associated with vaccinations and surgery. Since the adoption fee is sometimes less than the cost of the care provided, you may be able to save a couple of hundred dollars.
  • A pet is most expensive during the first year: Aside from their initial medical care, your pet will need equipment like a carrier, leash, fishtank, or other items to help keep them safe and comfortable.
  • Your pet is a permanent budget line item: You’ll need to cover ongoing things like food and treats, cat litter, medicine, routine medical care, pet licenses (if required in your area), pet insurance, grooming, pet sitting, walking services, etc. If you rent, your lease may include a pet fee.
  • Unplanned expenses will pop up: Your furry (or feathered or slimy) friend may get sick or hurt and need urgent vet care. (That bill can run thousands of dollars!) Or, they could destroy your shoes, furniture, flooring, and anything else they get their paws on. Replacing or repairing these items could really ding your budget.
  • There are ways to shop smart: Compare prices for goods and services, use coupons, sign up for repeat delivery, join rewards programs, buy in bulk, and check for deals from manufacturers. Buy generic medications when possible and check for discounts at big-box stores like Walmart and online retailers such as 1-800-PetMeds or VetRxDirect.
  • You can save money going the DIY route: It may take some time, but you can teach yourself how to groom or train your pet by checking out online videos and tutorials.

Opening your heart and home to a new animal friend feels great and can be a lot of fun. By doing your homework and seeking out deals, you can make the expense much more manageable.

Tell Charlie: How do you save on pet expenses?

Please note: We don’t have an affiliation with or personally endorse any of the services linked to in this post. We’re just trying to give you some ideas.


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