Money-Saving Tips for Pet Care
It’s estimated Americans will spend more than $72 billion on their pets this year, up almost $3 billion since last year.
About 70 percent of Ohioans own pets, said Mike Losneck, CEO of Eaton Family Credit Union, who cited findings from a 2018 consumer survey commissioned by the Ohio Credit Union League.
“Of those pet owners, 46 percent said they spend up to $500 annually on pet care and supplies,” Losneck said. “Another 21 percent spend between $500 and $750, 15 percent between $750 and $1,000, while 18 percent claim to spend more than $1,000 on their pets each year.”
According to the American Pet Products Association, pet spending is broken into five major categories: food, supplies including medicine, veterinarian care, live animal purchases and pet services such as grooming and boarding.
Nationally in 2017, the most money spent on pets – about $29.07 billion – went toward food and $17.07 billion on vet care.
Losneck said the Ohio Credit Union League survey found 51 percent of Ohioans spend most of their pet budget on veterinarian care.
The Ohio Credit Union League offered these money-saving tips for pet care:
- Create a pet budget. It’s easier for owners to save on pet costs if they can see how that money is spent. Try setting up a budget specifically for your pet. Track spending on food, toys, veterinarian visits, medicine, grooming, and boarding. At the end of each month, assess how much money has been spent on pet costs and adjust those categories as necessary.
- Keep pets healthy. Taking pets to the vet regularly can get costly, with veterinarians charging an average of about $257 for a routine dog visit and $182 for cats. But emergency medical costs are even higher (surgical visits cost an average of $245 for cats and $474 for dogs) and tend to stack up. It’s more cost effective to visit the vet regularly for complete physicals, which include diagnostic tests to detect problems before they’re serious. To help keep pets healthy between vet appointments, make sure they’re getting the correct food and plenty of exercises.
- Make your own toys. Many of the toys sold in pet stores can be created at home. For instance, cat scratching pads can be fashioned from cardboard boxes and braided towels can replace pricey rope toys for dogs. Sites like VetStreet.com offer creative and simple DIY pet toy ideas.
- Consider less-expensive alternatives to boarding. Travel with animals isn’t always possible, but boarding can get expensive. Instead, try setting up a pet-sitting system. Offer to watch friends’ pets for free while they’re away in exchange for their pet-sitting services next time you leave town. If free pet care isn’t available, check out alternative boarding options like Rover.com or DogVacay.com. These sites connect owners with walkers and sitters who typically charge less than pet daycares.
- Get help. Pet owners struggling financially have options. Charities like RedRover and The Pet Fund provide grants and money toward veterinarian bills. Meals on Wheels and local pet food banks can help owners struggling to feed their animals. For more pet assistance programs, visit iheartdogs.com.
Dave Godek, MBA
Business Development Manager
Eaton Family Credit Union