7OYS: Money saving tips for your pets

November 17, 2009 9:30:49 AM PST
It's estimated Americans will spend $45 billion on their pets this year. But giving your pets the best doesn't mean you have to spend a lot.

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Pet owners love to pamper their furry friends.

"She basically gets to choose her own toys so we go and I give her an array and whatever she kind of takes to, she gets. That's how she chose her bed, that's how she chooses her clothing," said dog owner Nicole Cramer.

All that pampering can be expensive. But you can save money by not overfeeding.

"If you can't easily see or feel your pet's ribs, it's probably time to cut down on the pet food," said Good Housekeeping's Janet Siroto.

If your pet is overweight, you can save $180 a year by giving your pet the lowest recommended amount on your pet food package. You can also take advantage of services at the local shelter. On average they charge one-third to a half of what a private vet does.

"One of the ways we recommend people save money long term is to not skip on annual exams, which a lot of people tend to do especially during tough economic times," said veterinarian Michael Sanchez.

If your pet needs medication urgently, get a week's worth from your vet and then take the prescription with you so you can order the rest online. Or see if your vet will match the on line price to keep your business.

Some vaccines may be unnecessary. If your pooch has no contact with other dogs, you may want to skip the "kennel cough" vaccine. That will save you about $20. Indoor-only cats may not need the feline leukemia vaccine, saving you about $25.

You can get good savings at warehouse clubs. For example, Good Housekeeping found at Costco a case of 24 22-ounce cans of Pedigree Chunky beef dog food for $24.99, versus $33.36 at a local supermarket.

Supplement your pet's diet with your leftovers. Just be careful and avoid spices and dairy. Be also careful with fat. Some human foods are toxic to pets, so check http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/safety/recalls

Finally you can save money by buying your animal's prescriptions online.

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