Discount Pet Supplies That Are Just as Good as the Over-Priced Alternatives – Glamour

You may feel like you won the lottery having your fur baby in your life, but your checking account probably doesn’t reflect the sentiment. In fact, one recent survey revealed that one in five pet owners have actually gone into debt to pay for their pets, and for 21% of them, the debt is more than $1,000. From hulking bags of kibble that get gobbled up within weeks to adorable squeaky toys that get micro-shredded within minutes, pet parenthood and its many accouterments can definitely come with a hefty price tag.

Here’s an eye-opening breakdown of some of the numbers you’ve deliberately avoided crunching: Owning a dog can run you an average of $480 to $3,470 per year, depending on factors like the breed and where you live, according to Rover, an online network of pet sitters and dog walkers. (And those costs tend to be much higher in the first year, as anyone who’s acquired a pandemic puppy can attest.) A cat can be less spendy but can still run you an average of $634 a year, according to the ASPCA.

And of course, the same factors that are increasing humans’ cost of living are also making it more expensive to own a pet: In February the cost of pet food increased by 3.7% and veterinary care by 5.8%, according to Department of Labor statistics

All of this is to say, the cost of owning a pet is increasingly not a fluffy topic. Of course, half the fun of having a pet is buying adorable accessories and seeing their excitement when presented with a particularly delightful toy or treat. So to help you strike a happy balance, here are some ways to spend less on your pets while still totally spoiling them.

Subscribe to save.

It pays to sign up for a subscription for pet basics you know you’ll constantly rebuy, like food, kitty litter, and biodegradable poop bags. Chewy.com and Amazon both offer 5% auto-ship discounts as well as hefty first-timer coupons. Plus, every time you skip an IRL trip to the pet store, you avoid impossible-to-resist impulse purchases like a teddy coat for your terrier.

Think outside the pet store.

When it comes to things like really cute dishes, harnesses, beds, and kitty condos, check out discount stores like HomeGoods and Marshalls. Not only will you save a ton for some of the same brands you’ll spot in pet stores, but you’ll find extra-fun discount pet supplies too—from a wicker half-moon chair for your pup to much chicer versions of pet gates. Oh, and before you drop a bundle on a functional yet ugly canine raincoat, know that some of your favorite discount fashion retailers also sell bargain pet fashion. See this $17 cable-knit H&M sweater on a supermodel miniature dachshund.

Buy medications in bulk.

Running out to buy heartworm medication every month—when your Google Calendar reminds you it’s time for another dose—is a great way to ensure you’ll pay maximum price (about $25 a pop). This is one area where it definitely pays to shop around. Bulk stores like Costco stock most of them—in the aisles on a seasonal basis, or at the in-store pharmacy, depending on the medication—and many veterinary clinics will price-match medications or offer great deals if you stock up for several months or the whole year. You could also ask your vet if there are generic options for medications your pet takes regularly.

Upcycle pet toys.

Dog and cat toys are expensive—and constantly buying new ones can feel wasteful from an environmental perspective. That doesn’t mean you have to be the unfun pet mom. Even if you’re not the biggest DIY-er, it’s easy to imagine so many ways that cast-off household items can be turned into dog toys. Old T-shirts, denim, bath towels, or plastic water bottles can be used to make knot, tug, and crinkle toys; a cracked tennis ball can become a thrilling find-the-treats puzzle toy. Chicken broth frozen in an ice cube tray creates fun pup-sicles. (Or freeze treats in plain ice cubes.) To get your DIY inspiration flowing, Rover has tons of easy DIY pet toy ideas. Just be sure the type you make are safe for your breed of dog or cat; ask your vet if you’re not sure.

Make your own treats.

Anyone who’s bought a bag of premium bully sticks has noticed that it costs the same as a steakhouse dinner. Some of your pet’s favorite treats might be impossible to DIY, but you can at least supplement those with less-expensive items you make yourself. As a starting point, the American Kennel Club offers recipes that use safe and inexpensive ingredients. Extra fun: Get a countertop cooker that comes complete with sure-to-please recipes, like the highly rated Dash Dog Treat Maker; you’ll make your money back in just a few batches. Just be sure to brush up on ingredients to avoid before your first cooking session. And next time you’re at the Starbucks drive-through, ask for a puppucino or “pup cup”—a free (and thrilling!) secret-menu treat for your little one. (Many ice cream shops offer their own version!)

Sign up for insurance now.

If you’ve wasted months asking friends whether pet insurance is worth it, now’s the time to finally compare policies and commit. Your pet likely won’t qualify for insurance once any health issues develop—no healthcare.gov for these little guys, sadly—so it’s smart to secure a policy before that happens. Pet insurance costs an average of $50 a month for a dog and $29 for a cat, according to the North American Pet Health Insurance Association, but could save you thousands on your next pet emergency-room visit. (Trust us, it’s coming.) And remember that it pays to keep up with preventative veterinary care, even when the annual bill is annoying: As with humans, things like vaccinations, oral hygiene, and routine bloodwork are major when it comes to preventing big-ticket health expenses down the line.

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