Americans spent more than $48 billion on pet products and services last year, according to the American Pet Products Association. Consumer Reports says you can provide the care your pet needs while curbing some of your expenses, too.
- Don't pay a premium for "premium" pet food. Food is the biggest cost of owning a cat or dog, according for $20 billion in annual sales in the U.S. But you don’t have to spring for “premium” pet foods. Any food that’s marked “complete and balanced,” “total nutrition,” or “100 percent nutritious” should meet the minimum standards for nutrition set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials, meaning it’s adequate for most healthy pets.
- Don't automatically get pet medicines from the vet. Vets’ markups on medications start at 100 percent and often hit 160 percent, according to the American Animal Hospital Association’s latest Veterinary Fee Reference. However, if your pet is taking a medication that’s also prescribed to humans, you might be able to fill the prescription inexpensively. Walgreen’s allows customers to enroll their pets as family members in its Prescription Savings Club, while Giant/Eagle, Target, and Kroger have discount programs that are open to pets.
- Take simple steps now to prevent costly problems. Brushing your cat’s or dog’s teeth or giving them dental chews can help prevent tooth plaque, which leads to periodontal disease in pets. Spaying female pets can reduce the risk of mammary tumors, while neutering male pets can reduce aggression and prevent some diseases. Finally, don’t over-feed your pets: Obesity can lead to arthritis and diabetes for them and huge prescription bills for you.
For more on how to care for your pets while curbing some expenses, check out the full story, Tame your pet costs.