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There are 3 universal truths: death, taxes, and gratuitously overpriced pet stuff.
Companies who make pet stuff assume that people with pets have disposable income. So it's no surprise that their prices are often a little breathtaking. Ever shopped for a dog collar? It’s a strap of leather, sometimes nylon. It probably cost $2 to manufacture. Why is it $45?!!
I recently got a dog and immediately tried to find deals on dog stuff. It was hard at first but I quickly figured out ways to hack pet ownership and save some serious money.
Here’s our top 10 techniques to save serious money on pet supplies:
#1: COUPONS. Never buy pet food without a coupon. There are tons of coupons (clippers, store, online, and directly from the manufacturer) to use. What's the best way to get some sweet coupons? Start typing! Go to Petco, write down every brand name you see, and write to the companies via their online contact pages. Most will send you super high value coupons like one bag free. Your dog will eat fancy grain-free, preservative-free food for months! Look at all the coupons we got from writing to companies!
You can also join Petco Pals. And when you join, they'll hand you a SWEET pack of coupons, which has up to 50% off bags of treats and food.
#2: SHOP AROUND FOR PET MEDS. There's a lot of online competition for your Frontline and over the counter pet med dollars so use it to your advantage.
For example, Budget Pet Care is selling Frontline Plus for small dogs for $18.99 for 3 months with free shipping and a 10% off coupon!
The lowest price on Amazon is $34.99 + $6 shipping.
For prescription meds, we recommend PetCareRx or Revival Animal Health. They can verify a prescription with your veterinarian and sell it to you for less. They also usually have great coupon codes!
#3: SAVE AT THE VET. Do your research and ask good questions about veterinary costs but also don’t be a jerkface. It’s a veterinary hospital, not a car dealership.
Here’s some helpful questions to use in order to be an informed veterinary consumer without seriously antagonizing your veterinarian who went to school for 4 years and knows more about animal health than you do:
If they’re recommending a test, you might ask “Will this change the treatment plan for my pet?”
If they give you a big schedule of fees for a procedures, you can ask, “Is any of this optional? What are the risks if I don’t do, say, bloodwork before surgery?”
Based on the answers to these questions, you can understand the reasoning behind what your vet is recommending and you can make informed choices based on your budget and risk tolerance.
#4: UN-BUNDLE VETERINARY CARE: Veterinary care bundled together is expensive – just like cable TV! Seek out the best rates on veterinary care in pieces in order to get the best deal.
You can use your local vet for emergency care, annual check-ups, and dental cleanings.
You can use your local shelter or Petco for low cost annual vaccines and heartworm tests.
You can buy Frontline on websites like Budget Pet Care.
#5: PLAN AHEAD AND GET DISCOUNTS BY USING PRE-PURCHASED GIFT CARDS: Buy Petco and Petsmart gift cards at a discount on CardPool and Raise. Easy way to save 10+%.
Here's some discounted Petco gift cards on Raise:
#6: ROVER: Use Rover for pet sitting. It's basically AirBnb for dogs. Your dog will be happier chilling with a loving pet sitter than at a kennel. Plus the prices are often 20-40% cheaper than the kennel. They offer day care and dog walking too!
#7: BE AN INFORMED BUYER OF PET INSURANCE: Take time to understand whether pet insurance is worth it because the house always wins (and you aren't the house). They've done the math and you will probably pay in more than you get out of pet insurance (that's how insurance companies make money).
Our recommended brand of pet insurance is Embrace Pet Insurance because they have flexible options based on your risk tolerance and great online reviews from customers. But we don't personally buy it because we prefer to just be "self insured"- in other words, keep a nest egg in case of emergency. But lots of people prefer that peace of mind that comes from knowing they will be reimbursed if their pet has a costly medical emergency.
If a plan is offering to cover wellness check-ups or no deductible, you're probably paying the price. In fact, your pet insurance is probably costing you many times what you would pay if you paid out of pocket for your wellness check-ups. Try increasing the deductible when you're shopping around and watch how fast the price of pet insurance drops. See an example from Embrace Pet Insurance's website of 3 possible scenarios:
Scenario 1 With a $500 Deductible and No Routine Wellness Coverage = $24.79/mo
Scenario 2 With a $200 Deductible and No Routine Wellness Coverage = $38.15/mo
In 12 months, you'll pay an extra $168 for this coverage over the higher deductible coverage. If your pet doesn't need to use the insurance for 2 years, you could have just put that money in a savings account to cover the higher deductible and pay lower premiums instead.
Scenario 3 With a $200 Deductible and $650 of Routine Wellness Coverage = $85.10/mo. The insurance company is definitely charging you a premium here because it's pretty clear you're going to use the coverage, so they want to protect their losses. Simple math shows that you will pay the insurance company back for all that routine wellness coverage in 7 months (with a premium of $85/mo). You might have been better off just paying for that routine wellness coverage out of pocket, but each pet owner is different with how they frame these risks and rewards.
#8: DOLLAR STORE Go to the Dollar Store. Seriously. Poop bags, pee pads, treats. Avoid: stuffed toys (they’re poorly made) and rawhides (rawhides are already a little dangerous and sketchy, do you really want the bottom of the barrel ones?)
#9: GET A DEAL ON A CRATE:
The cheapest wired dog crates can be found on Amazon (with free shipping!) See example:
Plastic dog crates are heavy and bulky to ship. The best deal on them is used on Craigslist!
#10: DOG HATES IT? RETURN IT: Return stuff that you and your dog do not like. Most of these products are satisfaction guaranteed!
Happy Pet Parenting!
The owner of this site is not an investment advisor, financial planner, nor legal or tax professional (or veterinarian!) and articles here are an opinion. The content on this site is intended to be educational and used for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. The owner of this sites assumes no liability for information provided above. The information may not be correct when applied to your specific situation.