Thrift and the Art of Pet Maintenance

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A dog costs its owners roughly $1,350 per year, on average. Experts say that maintaining your pet’s health and being good about preventive vet visits are key steps to keeping expenses under control.

Animal abandonment rates are up because of the increasing number of pet owners facing financial hardships (they can’t afford their pets) and home foreclosures (they have no place to house their pets). This month’s Kiplinger’s Personal Finance points out some ways to help pet owners avoid major pet expenses. Among the advice: Keep up with veterinarian appointments, consider buying a wellness plan and/or insurance, and, because there’s an obesity epidemic in the U.S. even among our pets, feed them health, affordable food—and not too much of it.

These tips seem to overlook some more obvious—and arguably better—money-saving advice offered by sites like PetDoc, which suggests doing your own pet grooming and taking on DIY projects like making your own dog or cat bed. Another site, Paw Nation, recommends you start saving money with the selection of the pet itself: A dog or cat from the shelter will cost 99.9% less than a pure bred. The site also suggests buying used pet carriers and other pet paraphernalia on eBay or other sites.

It even recommends that when you first bring your pet home, you have a pet shower and invite friends over to welcome in the new member of your family—and to have those friends buy the pet some stuff, just like at baby showers and bridal showers. Seems like a good idea. But don’t invite me.