10 Frugal Tips to Save Money On Your Dog

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A like-minded frugal friend of mine, Michelle, has graciously accepted my invitation to share her 10 favorite frugal tips for owning a pet! She is an engineer, writer and proud dog mama. She writes about lifestyle design, career success and financial independence at The Better Grind. Use these tips to save money on your dog today!

Having a dog brings me and my family so much joy! A dog’s happiness, devotion, and playfulness can brighten any day. However pet ownership also comes with many responsibilities and costs. 

By spending on my dog with intention, I am able to save thousands of dollars every year.  

These are my 10 favourite tips that you can use to save money on your dog today:

  1. Consider Adopting from a Shelter
  2. Buy Things Before You Need Them
  3. Join A Freecycle Group
  4. Shop Second Hand
  5. Price Watch
  6. Buy in Bulk
  7. Make Your Own Treats
  8. Share the Doggie Love
  9. Find Meetup Groups Online
  10. Don’t Buy For Your Dog What You Wouldn’t Buy For Yourself

For even more saving inspiration and frugal tips read 50 things I Don’t Buy to Save Money!

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Tip #1: Consider Adopting From a Shelter

If you haven’t yet found your furry friend consider adopting from a shelter.

My partner and I fell in love with the Shiba Inu breed and purchased our dog from a breeder for $2,000. It’s fairly typical to pay in the thousands for a pure bred pup. When you buy from a breeder you are in for an expensive first year. You will bring home the pup around 8 weeks of age and will then need to pay for all puppy vaccinations, micro-chipping, de-worming and spaying or neutering. These costs can easily add to an additional $1,000 or more.

There is another much cheaper option!

We have many friends who have adopted their dogs from shelters. From a shelter, you will typically pay a $200-$300 adoption fee. Depending on the age of the dog to be adopted, this fee can includes all initial veterinary costs mentioned above. So, you can save thousands! 

There isn’t a right or wrong option here. We love our pup and haven’t looked back despite the costs. But, if you are open to adopting there are so many gorgeous dogs in need of a loving new home.

Do your research and choose the option that feels right for you. 

Tip #2: Buy Things Before You Need Them

There’s no getting around it, dogs need a lot of stuff.

There’s collars, leashes, harnesses, beds, toys, treats and much more. 

Buying these things for your pup before you need them gives you time to shop around for a great deal. By planning in advance you may be able to find items for free or at a significant discount second hand.

Is your dog’s harness starting to get a little tight? Is their favorite toy starting to wear out? That’s the signal to post on your free recycling group (Tip #3), set up an alert on Facebook Marketplace (Tip #3) and set a price watch on Amazon (Tip #4). 

Tip #3: Join a Free Recycling Group

Did you know that there are online groups where people give away items for free all over the world? Search for a free recycling group in your local area. My favorites are:

When we brought home our pup, we were able to get his first collar, leash, harness and an almost-full pack of puppy pads on Freecycle. Puppies grow so quickly, so when they inevitably grow out of these items you can pass them on to another puppy owner.

You can also recycle your friends’ dogs hand-me-downs. We were able to score free treats, nail clippers and poop bags that our friends didn’t need. 

Tip #4: Shop Second Hand

If you can’t get something for free, the next best option is to find it second hand. My favorite place to buy second hand items for my dog is Facebook Marketplace.

You will usually be able to get items at half of their retail price or less.

When you search for an item on Facebook Marketplace, if you can’t see what you’re looking for right now, select ‘get notified when new items are posted.’ As soon as someone lists the item you’ll be first in line to purchase it.

Always double check the item cost on Amazon and a local pet store to be sure that you really are getting a good deal. 

Tip #5: Price Watch on Amazon

If you haven’t been able to get an item for free or cheaply second hand you can often find great deals on Amazon. We got an awesome deal on our dogs’ bed, water bowl, and toys.

Something that not everyone knows is that Amazon prices aren’t fixed. Prices on Amazon fluctuate significantly with time. 

Before you buy, check every items price history at Camel Camel Camel. If the price is good, you can buy immediately. Otherwise, set a price watch to be notified by email when the price drops. 

Double check the price against a local pet store. Usually Amazon is cheaper but not always.

Tip #6: Buy in Bulk

When we do buy from a pet store, we always buy in bulk. 

We buy a large 35lb bag of dry food and save 40% compared to buying small 6lb bags. The price of a large bag also qualifies for free delivery so we save fuel costs and our time too. 

Make sure that you join the free loyalty program at your local pet store. The points you collect will add up to more freebies over time.

Tip #7: Make Your Own Treats 

There are so many dog treats that are quick and easy to make at home. This is a huge money saver!

As an added bonus you know that the ingredients going in to your pets food are healthy, fresh and nutritious.

Search google for a homemade version of your dogs favorite store bought treat. You’ll be surprised how many free recipes are available! If you’re not sure where to start, a couple of our dogs favorite homemade treats are dehydrated sweet potato and chicken jerky.

Tip #8: Share The Doggie Love

It’s so important for your dog to get plenty of exercise and socialization. This doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Paying for a dog walker or daycare is convenient but the costs add up quickly.

With a little bit of creativity you can often find free ways to get your pup the walks and socialisation he needs. Can you:

  • Bring your dog to work?
  • Walk your dog on your lunch break?
  • Have nearby friends and family walk your dog occasionally?
  • Alternate group dog walks with a neighbor?

You will save money and your pup will have the chance to brighten the day of many more people!

Tip #9: Find Meetups & Socialization Buddies on Facebook

If you are looking for hiking buddies, breed-specific meetups or play dates there are so many free meetup groups available on Facebook. 

Our pup has met many friends through meetups.

This is a great free alternative to paid socialisation sessions. At $10-15 per visit the cost of paid sessions adds up over time!

Tip #10: Don’t Buy for Your Dog What You Wouldn’t Buy For Yourself

When buying something for your pet, always ask “am I buying the human equivalent for myself?”

This is a great sense check on whether you are spoiling your dog a little too much.

We all want the best for our dogs and you can feel pressured by marketing, and other dog owners, into buying expensive health products for your pet. 

Are you buying probiotic goats milk for yourself? Are you buying salmon oil supplements for yourself? If the answer is no, don’t feel pressured to buy these for your pet! 

How do you save money on your dog?

Which of these frugal tips will you use to save money on your dog? What are your favourite frugal tips for pets? Let us know in the comments below!

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