By Cortni Marrazzo
My husband and I recently bought a new puppy. Before we even brought her home, I found out how expensive dogs can be (I did a lot of upfront research beforehand so I could budget most of the costs). But alas, whenever I find out how expensive something is, I can usually find a way to save money on whatever it is. Here are some of the ways I’ve discovered I can save on my little ball of fur:
PetSmart.com: This was a lifesaver when we had to buy all our puppy supplies before she came home. This was our first dog so we had to buy things like a crate, a leash, food/water bowls, dog food, and the list goes on and on. So I went to PetSmart.com and made a “wish list.” I picked out everything I wanted/needed from the comfort of my own computer and then printed out the list to take to the actual store. I figured that way I wouldn’t spend hours (and more money than I needed to) at the store trying to decide what to get.
To my surprise, when I got to the store, everything I had on my list was more expensive there. I took my printed list to an associate and asked them about the price difference. She told me that the online prices are lower than the store prices, but that they will match the online prices if I had them printed out, which I did. So I continued shopping from my list and ended up saving about $35 on my total cost because of the online pricing. Now every time I need to get something at PetSmart, like dog food, I go online first and print out the item that I want and I save a few dollars.
Invest in Clippers (or Buy a Low Maintenance Dog): Dog grooming can get expensive. My mom has a cocker spaniel that had to get groomed every 2 months at $50 a pop. You have to consider this cost when you buy a dog because it can add up. But one way you can save is to buy some hair clippers and do it yourself. You can look online for directions on how to best clip your breed of dog so they aren’t the laughing stock of the neighborhood (other dogs judge you know). You can get a nice set of clippers for only $30, which is less than a trip to the groomers for some dogs.
The other option, if you haven’t gotten your dog yet, is to buy a low maintenance dog in the grooming department. One of the main reasons I wanted to get a beagle is because they hardly ever have to be groomed due to their short hair. And they only require baths once or twice a year (unless they get into something smelly). I knew right off the bat when we got our beagle that grooming costs would not overrun our budget.
Beware of What (& How Much) You Feed Them: Dogs, like humans, can become overweight if you “free feed” them or feed them more than their needed amount of food per day (or if you feed them too many snacks). And like humans, overweight dogs lead to more health problems and more trips to the vet, costing you more money.
Also, if dogs are fed human food, they are more likely to get sick and have to visit the vet because often their stomachs can’t handle the richness of human food. For instance, our vet told us that feeding your dog grapes or raisins can actually kill them because some chemical in those will break down their liver and can basically shut down their organs.
Ask Former Dog / Puppy Owners: If you are getting a new dog or puppy, consider asking a friend who once had a dog, but doesn’t any longer. Sometimes it is hard for people to get rid of toys or beds or leashes that belonged to their dog that passed away. But the opportunity to contribute to the needs of a friend’s new dog or puppy may be just the motivation they need to finally give up those items.
Also, check with friends who brought home their dog as a puppy but is all grown up now. Most adult sized dogs can no longer fit in the beds, crates, leashes, collars, etc. that they had as a puppy. A new puppy is a great time to recycle someone’s no longer used puppy equipment. Plus, I’ve found that my puppy preferred items that were used by other dogs beforehand because they had a nice dog smell instead of that new plastic smell.
Be Creative When it Comes to Toys: I found a lot of toys at the pet supply stores when I was preparing for my puppy. However, I also found a lot of similar looking toys at places like Wal-Mart and Walgreens for a lot less money. My mom always checks out after-holiday sales for great deals on seasonal stuffed animals for her dog. She can often get toys for $1.00 or less. This may not work the best if your dog is an avid chewer – tougher toys tend to be more expensive. For me, it’s a lot less frustrating when my dog chews up a toy that cost $1.00 instead of one that cost $10.00.
eBay: I admit it – I’m a bit of an eBay addict. But I found some pretty convenient items for my puppy on eBay. I found dog life jackets for under $20 and we bought our dog a matching leash and collar set. We had looked at a few pet stores for a personalized ID tag for our dog’s collar but didn’t really like what we saw. I found a seller who personalized all different shapes and colors of tags and got one for under $5.00 – and that included shipping. Obviously, the smaller items are best to buy online since you can pay serious money for shipping large items.