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The best ways pet parents can cut costs in 2023, according to the experts

We asked the experts: Here's how to cut pet costs — and where not to cut corners

From groceries to home goods, it seems no industry was immune to inflation in 2022, including pet products.

For example, inflation and supply chain disruptions drove pet food prices to an all-time high. A rover.com report on the cost of owning a pet found that pet owners have been forking $40 to $290 per month on their pups — it’s a wide range, and the word “expensive” is relative. However, pet parents still want to ensure their fur babies get the best of the best when it comes to nutrition, exercise, fun, and treats, regardless of budget.

What’s a doting pet parent to do? Get savvy, says one expert.

“It’s more important than ever to look for ways to save and stretch your dollars, so you don’t have to sacrifice your pet’s care,” said Andrea Woroch, a consumer finance and budgeting expert and author. 

Woroch and other pet parents shared with us how to save on pet costs in 2023.

A vet with a dog

Ways to save on pet health care in 2023

Medications and vet trips aren’t luxe extras like a plush dog bed might be. However, there are still ways to ensure your pet gets high-quality care at a lower cost.

Prevention is the best medicine

It sounds cliche, but it’s true. You can’t protect your pet from every health issue because genetics and age factor in, but it’s essential to control what you can.

Vaccines and parasite prevention products, especially heartworm prevention and quality nutrition lead to the healthiest pet possible,” said Caroline Cofer, DVM, the owner of Pets Favorite Vet. 

Preventative products can cost more than $25 for a one-month supply. But Cofer says you may be able to take advantage of discounts.

“At your vet visit, ask the team about rebates from the parasite preventative companies that can give you automatic or mail-in discounts on products,” Cofer said. 

Find a low-cost vet

Vet trips are essential. Though you may plan and budget for the annual wellness visits, other issues can arise, such as if your pet eats food they shouldn’t or experiences a fever. What’s more, some pets develop chronic illnesses that require more frequent care, such as diabetes

“If you are experiencing financial hardship, ask your vet about special financing programs or negotiating a payment plan,” Woroch said. “Some may even offer reduced prices based on your income.”

Woroch also suggests looking into low or no-cost programs, such as mobile clinics in town or at Petco. The Humane Society has resources for people experiencing financial challenges.  

A person pouring dog food into a dish

Cut costs on pet food and treats in 2023

No matter what, your pet needs to eat — and a healthy diet can protect against issues like diabetes and obesity. However, food costs are hitting never-before-seen prices. Here’s how to keep pet food costs in check.

Find a quality dog food

There are a ton of diets out there, such as raw and plant-based options. If humans have tried it, it’s probably there for pets, too. It’s also tempting to constantly treat your dog. However, it’s fine to stick to standard dog food with the AAFCO seal. Remember, the majority — about 90% — of your dog’s daily caloric intake should be from a food approved by your vet.

“Over 50% of the preventable health problems I see in dogs and cats are related to obesity,” Cofer said. “If pets are kept to their ideal weight, you can avoid arthritis, diabetes, and torn ligaments and reduce their risks for inflammation-mediated diseases, such as cancers and allergies.”

DIY dog treats

There are tons of fancy dog treats at your local boutique or big-box retailers. However, it’s not necessary to buy them — or any treat, really — for your dog.

“Get a block of cheese, cut it into quarter-inch cubes — or smaller — and freeze them for training,” said Ali Smith, the CEO and founder at Rebarkable. “That’s a lot of treats for not a lot of money.”

Just remember that not all food is safe for pets and to discuss any issues with human treats for dogs with your vet.

Woman shops for dog food with her dog

Save big while shopping for your pet

Coupon clipping and loyalty programs aren’t just for groceries for the humans in your life. Experts share savvy shopping tips to help you save on pet costs.

Sign up for loyalty programs

Loyalty programs often reward pet parents with deals for shopping at a specific store.

“When it comes to pet essentials, you can find savings by signing up for loyalty programs,” said Woroch. “For instance, sign up for free loyalty programs to earn cash back and money off future orders from stores like PetSmart, which offers the Pals Reward program. This program gives shoppers a free $5 voucher for every $100 spent.”

Autoship items

Signing up for autoship can save time and money. 

“Many online pet stores offer discounts when you set up repeat deliveries, including deals such as 30% off the first order and 5 to 10% off subsequent deliveries,” Woroch said.

Check out third-party resources

Retailers offer savings through loyalty programs. However, you can also score discounts by coupon clipping and using digital third-party vendors. Woroch told us that resources like couponcabin.com and fetch.com offer deals with retailers like Chewy, Target, and Walmart, which stock pet gear.

A woman and a beagle on a computer

Final word on savings

Learning how to cut pet costs may be essential as prices continue to soar. However, even financial experts like Woroch say some items are worth paying full price for when it comes to your pet.

“Cutting costs makes sense in some ways, such as spending less on things they really don’t need to thrive, including toys, plush beds or designer leashes, and other pet accessories,” Woroch stated. “However, skimping on food could end up costing you more, in the long run, thanks to health issues that lead you to the vet’s office. So splurge on pet food to maintain longevity.”

If you can’t find a coupon for healthy dog food, consider paring down on toys instead — your pet will still love you. We promise.

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