Pets are an important part of families, but man's best friend can be very pricey. TODAY financial editor Jean Chatzky gives advice on how to save money on everything from pet food and medication to toys and training.
This week on Frugal Friday, we’re focusing on the furry members of the family: our pets. And in addition to linking to as many cute pictures of puppies as we can, we’ll also be talking about the major pet spending categories -- and how you can save on each.
The American Pet Products Association recently released a survey that revealed we spent a whopping $53 billion on our pets last year. Of that figure, $20.6 billion was spent on pet food. Now, we love our pets as much as the next person, but the thing to remember is that as long as the food you buy them contains real meat ingredients, they’re not going notice incremental differences in quality beyond that.
“I don’t believe owners have to go to organic,” veterinarian Karen Halligan said. “It’s not documented that they live longer, like humans do.” She noted that owners should look at the first two ingredients in any pet food to make sure that they’re meat-based and not veggie-based. With a veggie-based food, there’s more filler, which Halligan said means “your pet has to go to the bathroom more because it’s pooping out all the filler.”
To save money on your chow of choice, check out Petco.com, which is running a 20-percent off promotion across its entire website -- and sales prices are good through March 28. Also, if you have a favorite brand of pet food, don’t forget to check its website to see if they’re offering any coupons. Purina, for instance, is currently offering five different coupons for various cat and dog food products.
It’s important to protect your pet from fleas, ticks and other ailments, but doing so can be costly. Halligan recommends looking into generic versions of pet medication, just as you’d look for generic versions of the medicines you use for yourself. When it comes to flea and tick protection, her favorite generic -- because it’s been tested extensively -- is PetArmor, which retails for nearly half of what you’d pay for the “name brand,” Frontline Plus. Halligan noted that Frontline Plus is great for treating a flea infestation, but if you’re simply looking to prevent fleas, PetArmor is just as effective. And in addition to retailing for a lower price point, PetAmor is also currently offering a $5-off coupon on its website.
If you’re not lucky enough to have a large yard and electric fence, you’ll need a good leash that can withstand wind, rain, and your dog trying to nab the scraps of pizza that fall in the street. Vet Halligan advises avoiding the temptation of buying a leash because it’s pretty -- instead, you want something that fits the dog you own. That means something thick and durable for your Rottweiler, while you can get something a little lighter for your 10-pound Yorkie. Kmart is currently running a 10-percent promotion on the latter type of leash, the Majestic Pet Lead Purple -- and they’re throwing in free shipping, too!