Pet Care on a Budget

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We love our animals so much we treat them like family and as such, sometimes it can be hard to buy them everything they need to stay healthy and happy, especially on a tight budget. According to the APPA (American Pet Products Association), we spend around $1,500 per year on our dogs and about $1,200 annually on cats. As a whole, the US is estimated to shell out more than $60 billion on pet care costs in 2015.

Sometimes this figure will include things like outfits and buying them gifts, so that would likely be one of the first things we would trim from our budget, but there’s always that coupon shopper in us looking to save a bundle. What are some other costs we can do without when it comes to caring for our four-legged friends?

#1 – MEDICATION MISCALCULATION

The APPA also informs us that the most expensive items for pet care comes from veterinary visits, both routine and surgical. But what they don’t tell us is the huge markup that veterinarians will tack onto medicines for our animals in their care, an average of 150% and in some cases and as high as 275% in others. They claim it is for sales tax, shipping, carrying and dispensing costs, but 100-275%, that’s just crazy!

Get the prescription from your veterinarian and get it filled someplace else, especially from many online venues that come in at a fraction of the cost. If your veterinarian has a problem with that, you’ve got the wrong vet and you should get another one, since they could be overcharging you in other ways. To boost your saving even further, if you go the the same website repeatedly to fill your pet’s meds, consider signing up for one of those rebate sites that offer cash back on purchases.

#2 – FOOD FIGHT

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This is often highly debated amongst animal lovers who will sometimes buy their pets either the cheap food in bulk or the over-priced meals that might not be all they’re advertising. For example, Purina recently sued Blue Buffalo for false advertising claiming their higher-priced kibble contained poultry byproducts contrary to what their labels read. BB later admitted to doing so, but Purina is not without fault either.

In a separate case, a class action lawsuit was filed against Purina for allegedly killing and poisoning pets with their Beneful brand of foods that may contain mycotoxins (a mold on grains) and does include propylene glycol (an FDA approved additive contained in antifreeze that can kill animals in very small doses).

Although we might want to teach our animals to play dead, but we certainly don’t want to actually kill (or sicken) them with their food, but what’s a consumer to do? Personally, I like to go down the middle of the road, not buying the super-cheap, bargain brands nor do I wish to spend a small fortune on a simple bag of dog food. Read the label carefully and make sure that ingredients like corn, which can cause allergies or is difficult to digest for some animals, aren’t in the first few ingredients.

Look for more wholesome ingredients in the top four listed, things like beef, fish, chicken or other poultry and no byproducts. Other healthier alternatives are rice, soy and and other proteins that should turn up high on the list. By doing some online shopping for pet meds and spending a little more on higher quality food, we’ll save money in the long run, especially on veterinary bills.

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