As a guide dog puppy raiser for the Smithtown Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind and a pet owner in general, I understand how much taking care of a pet can cost. Dogs, cats, birds and any other pet you may be thinking of adopting is really a commitment not only emotionally but financially too. Pets are great companions and if you are creative in their care, it doesn’t have to come with a large price tag.
Consider the cost for an animals to feed, care for and keep happy. According to Real Simple the following animals will cost this much per year: a dog, $1,131; a cat, $820; a freshwater fish, $98; and a bird, $375. In honor of National Adopt a Cat month, I’ve compiled a list of tips that can bring down the cost of owning a pet and make it an affordable choice and now a real possibility for you to go out and get that pet you always wanted.
-Adopt: Animals from breeders can be expensive-- but why buy an animal when there are plenty of FREE adoptable puppies and kittens at your local shelter?! Most of these animals are available for a minimal cost of a donation and you are doing a good dead by rescuing an animal! Some shelters even cover the costs of care and/or spaying/neutering the pet.
-DIY grooming: Whether you have a dog that needs to be bathed or a cat’s nails that need to be clipped, you should try doing it on your own. I understand that it may be a difficult task with some animals, but others are actually less finicky when being handled by their owner (aka someone they love) and you can save a lot of money! For example, nail clippers are a one time cost of about $15, which beats paying $30+ each time you take your cat or dog to the vet to get it done.
-Low cost vet clinics: Low cost vet clinics are available all over Long Island. Their services range from spay/neuter, vaccines to general check-ups. Check out this list of local Long Island low cost vet clinics.
-Pet insurance – if you have a pet that is prone to disease or an animal that may get injured a lot it may be worth it. Animal insurance can cost around $20 to $40 per month. It may be a good option for many pet owners, but be careful and read the terms to see what types of treatment that this will cover. The policies typically have deductibles, co-pays and caps that limit how much will be paid out annually. Pre-existing problems and hereditary conditions are normally excluded. The older your animal, the more you'll have to shell out in premiums. Some insurers don't cover pets older than 9 and others levy surcharges so simply make sure you educate yourself.
-Discount Pet Groups- Pet Assure is a great alternative to tradition pet insurance. Pet Assure is not health insurance, but by being a member you can save 25% on vet bills and up to 50% on pet supplies when you purchase from participating vendors, and Pet Assure’s network of merchants is always growing. After signing up you are also eligible for a free lost pet service which reunites thousands of lost pets with their owners each year. List of participating vets and list of participating vendors by category
-Kennels and Boarding: Kennels can cost you as low as $12 to upwards of $100 per day. Instead of taking your dog or cat to a kennel when you go on vacation try goodnightlucky.com (local LI). With this service, people volunteer their homes and time to take after your pet when you go away. You can find comfort in knowing that this service inspects the candidate’s home before you drop off your pet, and the caretaker keeps your pet on the same eating, walking and sleeping schedule, to ensure that they don’t loose their usual routine. This runs about $50 per night. You might not feel like you’re saving a lot here, but keep in mind that kennels will charge extra for longer walks, larger boarding accommodations, higher quality food, and grooming.
Final thought: Please remember to think about your furry friends next time you donate to your local food pantry or food drive. Food pantries are always looking for pet food too
Please let us know any additional tips and tricks you have to taking care of your pet on a budget!