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How to Save Money on Your Pet

May 9, 2024

In Maine, we sure love our pets. In fact, 63.5% of Mainers own a pet with 43.6% owning a cat and 35.9% owning a dog. While pets have many benefits – companionship, more physical activity, and lower stress levels, to name a few – they can be hard on your budget.

According the ASPCA, the average pet owner spends at least $1,400 per year to care for their furry friend, depending on your pet’s individual needs, size, and health status. But there are some smart ways to trim your pet’s expenses. Here are a few tips to help help you keep your pet healthy and happy for less.

Pet Food and Treats

Dog owners can spend up to $700 a year on food and treats, while cat owners spend up to $500 a year. With a little planning, you are sure to save.

  • Buy food in bulk. Purchasing pet food in large quantities can help cut food costs. If you buy in bulk, it is important to store the food properly to keep it fresh.
  • Get a food subscription. Major marketplaces like Amazon and Chewy will offer a 5% discount if you subscribe to receive food on a regular basis. If it is too much, you can always cancel.
  • Join pet store loyalty clubs. Many pet retailers offer free loyalty programs where you can earn points, discounts, coupons, and other perks to save on your purchases. 
  • Consider generic brands. When it comes to pet food, generic doesn’t necessarily mean lower quality. Many generic brands contain the same high-quality ingredients as pricier name-brand products.
  • Make your own treats. Treats can be expensive. Instead of buying treats, create your own. There are plenty of recipes online using pet-friendly ingredients like peanut butter, bacon, bacon, cheese, pureed pumpkin, sweet potato, and carrots.

Pet Toys, Beds and Bowls

Pet owners typically spend more than $100 a year just on toys for their furry friends. Shopping around and a little creativity can help you save.

  • Shop at discount retailers. Most discount retailers and dollar stores will sell pet bowls, beds, toys, and other supplies at a fraction of the price of major retailers.
  • Make your own toys and beds. You can probably make some great pet toys just with things you have around the house like old tee shirts or socks (knot them together for a great tug-of-war rope). YouTube is full of great ideas.
  • Buy the most durable toys. No dog toy will last forever. This is where quality matters. Shop for brands that are well made and sturdy, like KONG. Or consider signing up for a pet toy and treat subscription for a flat fee. 

Veterinary Care and Medications

Next to food, veterinary care is the biggest expense for most pet owners. Pet insurance is one way to make these bills more manageable, but that may not work for everyone. Here are a few ways to keep vet bills in check.

  • Keep up with preventive oral care. Dental disease can lead to heart and kidney problems and expensive procedures. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily using a pet-friendly toothpaste can keep their gums and teeth healthy and help prevent costly surgery.
  • Prevent diseases. Heartworms, intestinal parasites and tick-borne diseases can be costly to treat — and in some cases fatal. You can protect your pet by making sure they receive an annual vet exam, vaccines and pills for tick, heartworm, and flea prevention.
  • Keep your pet at a healthy weight. Proper diet and exercise can help keep your pet healthy and out of the hospital— and keep hospital bills at bay.
  • Shop for medications online.  If your veterinarian prescribes medications for your pet, an online pharmacy may offer discounted prices. Check out sites like 1800PetMedsVetRxDirect and PetCareRx.
  • Look for discounts on spay or neuter surgery. Some nonprofits, including local humane societies will offer discount vouchers for spaying or neutering.

Pet Grooming

While cats don’t usually need grooming, the cost of grooming your dog (bath, brush, blow dry, nail trim, ear cleaning, etc.) can cost as much as $90 depending on the size of the dog and other factors.  Here are a few ways to save.

  • Go DIY. One way to save money on pet grooming is to learn how to do it yourself. There are a lot of great videos on YouTube that can show you how to trim your pets’ nails, bathe them and more.
  • Shop around. If you don’t want to do pet grooming yourself — or your animal requires professional grooming – ask around for recommendations from your vet, friends, and family, and then compare rates.
  • Brush your pet. Some pet groomers charge extra for detangling a matted coat. If you have a long-haired dog or cat, you may want to invest in a high-quality hairbrush and regularly brush their fur.

Pet Daycare and Boarding

If you are away from home for the day or overnight, day care can cost as much as $40 and $50 or more for an overnight stay for your dog at a kennel. Cats are less, but both can add up. There may be some cheaper alternatives.

  • Find a local pet sitter. If you need someone to watch or walk your dog you may want to post Facebook Marketplace in your area or check out a service such as Rover for referrals. 
  • Organize a pet-sitting co-op. Band together a group of neighbors with pets who are willing to provide free pet sitting for each other as needed.
  • Purchase a daycare package. If you prefer to take your pet to a daycare center, many offer multiday packages at reduced rates.

Pet Training

If your dog needs a little help with learning its manners, you can expect to invest as much as $140 per session for a private dog trainer. Here are a few other options:

  • Take advantage of group classes. Group classes tend to cost less than private sessions. Some pet stores and many independent trainers offer group training sessions.
  • Go virtual. Many trainers charge less for virtual sessions than in-person training. Several retailers also offer virtual training, providing one-on-one virtual training sessions for less.
  • Become your own pet trainer. There’s no shortage of pet training tutorials on YouTube.

Pet Travel

If you like to take your pet along when you travel, here are a few budget-friendly options:

  • Stay at pet-friendly hotels and homestays. Many lodging options now offer low, or no fee stays for pets. Check out Bring Fido and Pets Welcome.
  • Compare airline pet fees. If you want your pet to travel with you when you fly, you can expect to pay anywhere from $100 to $150 one-way fee to bring a dog or cat in the cabin. You can find a list of airline fees at

Setting up a special savings account for emergency pet expenses can be a great way to prepare for the unexpected. Or if you are looking to invest in a new pet for your family or have surprise vet bills, Town & Country’s pet loan may be the answer. To learn more or if you have any personal finance needs, reach out to a Town & Country representative by emailing us at, calling 800-649-3495 or book a consultation here.

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