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8 Ways Pet Owners Can Save Money

Tuesday May 9th 2017

Pets make our lives richer in so many ways; unfortunately, they don’t do the same for our wallets, so if you’re spending an arm and a leg looking after your cat, dog or rabbit, try these ideas…

1. Spread costs with a pet care plan
Vets’ bills are one of the biggest outlays pet owners face and they can regularly sneak up on you in the form of worming and flea treatments or annual vaccinations and booster shots. You can plan ahead by joining a pet health plan.

Many vets offer services where in return for a monthly payment, you receive routine treatments, vaccinations and health checks when they’re due with the added bonus of getting a reminder from your vet when it’s time for that wonderful worming treatment your pet’s been so looking forward to.

2. Buy food in bulk online
A good diet is probably the best investment you can make in your pet’s future health but if you’re feeding a carnivore like a cat or dog, it doesn’t come cheap; if your budget is tight, think in terms of paying less for quality rather than downgrading your pet to cheaper foods.

Online pet food specialists have lower overheads than high street stores and can sometimes offer brands from overseas that are less costly but produced to high standards. Many websites reward you with a discount or free shipping for buying bulk quantities.

You can also supplement your carnivorous pet’s diet with species-appropriate foods from your own table such as left-over chicken, fish or red meat. Just make sure it’s free from bones and strong seasoning such as chilli which is way too much for dogs’ and cats’ incredibly sensitive senses of smell and taste.

3. Insure them for the long-term
Pet insurance is a must-have – that is, unless you have a huge amount of money you don’t mind spending at short notice if your cat, dog or rabbit needs treatment but don’t just look for the cheapest policy because in most cases you’ll want to stay with the same provider for your pet’s lifetime.

This is because many pet insurance providers won’t pay out for existing conditions. For example, if your rabbit has a long-term skin condition and you switch your insurance, the new provider won’t ever cover that condition because the problem existed before the insurance cover started.

Some insurers will even stop cover when your pet gets past a certain age even if you never claim, leaving you without protection when your pet is most susceptible to illness. So to keep the costs down long-term, look for a well-established provider with a good reputation and make sure they offer lifetime cover for your pet.

4. Forget the expensive toys
Unlike humans, pets have no awareness of concepts like brands or luxury – well, unless it comes to posh, tasty food. They don’t see much difference between a state-of the-art chew toy and an old slipper. They’re also simpler in their bedding requirements than they let on. Somewhere warm, dry and soft, with a good view of comings and goings in the room is usually all that’s required.

Many a new pet owner has brought home a luxurious padded bed or elaborate cat tree only to see their new companion walk straight past it and curl up on a pile of washing or an old armchair. The same goes for expensive cat scratching posts – an old carpet tile or a bit of doormat will do the job for free and of course, cats being cats, they’ll probably prefer to deconstruct your sofa arms or rip up your stair carpet anyway.

So if you feel you should treat your pet with lavish accessories, toys or designer collars, you can relax. Some of the happiest and best-loved pets do just fine without.

5. Watch out for portion sizes
Overfeeding your pet isn’t just pricey it can be bad for their health, leading to obesity and related conditions. Use a small container like a plastic cup or scoop to measure out your pet’s portions and provide plenty of fresh drinking water with every meal. The food will go further and you won’t find it sitting uneaten in the bowl later or worse, padding out your pet’s waistline.

6. Avoid kennel costs
If you’re heading on holiday, you’re faced with some expensive options when it comes to your pet. Will you put them into a kennel, cattery or rabbit boarding service? Or will you take your pet on holiday with you, potentially involving pet passports, complex travel arrangements and extra stress? Even pet sitters don’t come cheap, charging as much as a kennel fee in some cases.

Instead, try asking trusted neighbours for a pet-sitting swap. If they feed Fido, you can return the favour when they go on their holidays. Or if you have friends without pets, ask them to look in on your pet each day. Then you can return the favour in another way, like gardening, moving furniture or babysitting.

7. Spend time playing
Cats and dogs are genetically made for hunting. When you tap into their natural instincts with chasing, catching, pouncing, holding onto and running after thrown objects, you’re giving them the feel-good rush of doing what they were born to do. Rabbits aren’t hunters by nature but they love to play too. Hunting and collecting straw and grass, rolling a ball or dodging through an obstacle course are all great ideas for playing with your rabbit.

Playing together helps you observe your pet’s movements and physical condition so you can spot any issues that might be showing early signs. It can be a good way to add extra daily exercise for both of you. When you spend time with your pet you’re strengthening the bond between you, making your pet happier and more relaxed – all of which leads to better health and fewer veterinary expenses as they age.