Keeping a pet does not have to cost a lot, even in a recession.
True, expenses for the first year or two, including for behavioral training and spaying or neutering, can top $500. But after that, annual costs to care for a pet are much lower.
Devon Moos, the owner of a dachshund named Ruby Tuesday, says she spends $200 a year on all of the basics for her pet, including supplies to make her own dog food.
“I would rather take the time to make her food on a weekly basis and know she's getting what she needs nutritionally,” says Moos.
Here are some ways to curb costs (including some tips from Moos on being a pet chef):
1. Food for Less: Keep it Simple
Organic pet food is gaining appeal, but it may not actually be worth the extra money.
“Pet food, especially the organic and human-grade kind, can get expensive. For pet food, there’s no official definition of organic, human-grade, premium, no fillers, or gourmet,” notes Consumer Reports. So there’s no need to spend extra money on pet food with these claims, Consumer Reports says.
By feeding your pet traditional pet food, your annual costs can top $200 on food alone, assuming you pay about $16.99 per 20- to 30-pound bag of pet food and need one bag per month. Buying generic or store brand dog food, on the other hand could save you about 25%, according to Consumer Reports.
Some consumers question the quality of store brand products, but the fact is store brand pet food adheres to regulations set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and often the standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials on the state level as well. (AAFCO verifies that pet food has either been lab tested and has the recommended amounts of protein, fat, and other nutrient content, or that it provides complete and balanced nutrition.)
And if you’ve been paying for fancy wet cat food, keep in mind that there’s no nutritional difference between wet and dry pet food, according to Consumer Reports experts. “Wet foods contain about 75% water, so you’ll need to buy more to get the same calories as in dry food,” Consumer Reports says.
2. Buy in Bulk
If you buy traditional dry pet food in bulk and stock up when it’s on sale, you could end up paying $150 or less per year on furry friend food. Remember, the bigger the bag, the more you save. And more expensive food isn’t necessarily better quality food.
Speaking with a veterinarian about maintaining adequate portion control could also save you money and keep your pet at a healthy weight, possibly helping it live longer as well.