How to pamper your pets on the cheap


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Any pet owner will tell you that the best thing they ever did was to get a pet. We just got a new bunny named Willow and I can’t tell you how great it’s been for my whole family. And apparently, getting a pet was a wise choice. Studies have shown that dog owners have more than a 20 percent lower chance of death, and my guess is that rabbit owners live even longer. 😉 The downside? Caring for our furry, feathered, and reptilian friends can be expensive.

Here are some easy ways to save money on things for your pet.

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Compare prices

At least at first, take the time to compare prices for pet food and other essentials at pet supply stores, the grocery store, big box stores, like Walmart and Target, and online (an easy way to do this is to go to and enter the names of what you want. If you’re ordering regularly, you might find that you’ll save the most if you take advantage of subscription and loyalty programs. For example, with Chewy’s AutoShip program you’ll save 30 percent on your 1st autoship order (20 percent off medicines) and then 5 percent thereafter. Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service offers up to 15 percent off your first order and then 5 percent thereafter.

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Buy in bulk

If you belong to a wholesale club, like Costco or Sam’s Club, see if they carry your preferred brands of food, litter, and other supplies. The wholesale price will very likely be lower than retail. There are also online wholesale retailers, like Bargain Wholesale and Keep in mind, however, that if you have a small pet, a 50lb bag of food may not be your best bet. The food may expire or lose its freshness before your pet has the time to eat it all.

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When you’re buying your food and other supplies, get in the habit of checking the sale or clearance section for toys — they’re going to get destroyed anyway, so they don’t have to be in perfect condition. Online pet retailers, like Chewy, have Daily Deals or quantity deals, like Buy 3 Get 1 Free.

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Monthly Boxes

Monthly boxes can be a convenient way to stock up on essentials. BarkBox allows you to customize the box, and you’ll get free extra toys if you sign up for multi-month deliveries. With Bullymake, you’ll save 40 percent off your 1st box–now only $23–and if you join their mailing list, save an additional $10. Chewy’s Goodie Boxes are for dogs and cats – they even have a “Birthday Box.” With PupBox, you can get training tips, toys, and treats, depending on your dog’s needs.

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If you’re a little handy, make your own pet toys and treats and save big. A simple Youtube search will result in countless tutorials and recipes.

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Carriers & Crates

In my experience, the best deals for carriers and crates, are at online at etailers, like Chewy, Petsmart, and Amazon. In-store, especially in small pet stores, crates and carriers can be significantly more expensive. Also, avoid fancy crates. A friend spent a small fortune on a beautiful fabric and screen crate and her puppy destroyed it in a flash.

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Professional grooming can cost a fortune, so try – try, being the operative word – to do it yourself. And you may not be great at everything. Maybe you’re a whiz at baths and haircuts, but nail clipping and teeth cleaning is too much. At least you know that you’re saving money by doing some of the grooming yourself. And when it comes to baths, if you can DIY but don’t want the mess, see if there’s a self-service pet wash nearby. It will be cheaper than a pro bath and your bathroom will be spared.

Big box pet stores also offer in-store grooming and have coupons available like 20% off a bath or bath + haircut at Petco.

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Pet Sitting/Boarding

This will be pricey even for a tiny bunny, but there are a couple things you can try. If you need ongoing service, ask if the service provider offers discounts for regular customers. There are also services, like DogVacay or Rover, where you can find local animal lovers to care for your pet in their own home. This can be less expensive than boarding your pet at a facility.

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Shop around, ask your friends and neighbors which veterinarian they use and why. I found that a vet in a neighboring town had lower rates for visits, surgeries, and boarding, plus they were highly recommended! It’s a 20-minute drive, but the savings are worth the trip.

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If you get your medication from your veterinarian, be sure to ask for manufacturer’s coupons and rebates (they usually have a stack of them). Online stores all offer various savings plans and subscription services, so do a quick search to see who has the best deal for your pet’s meds. GoodRX and LowestMed have quick search options to help you compare pricing and find the best coupons. 1800PetMeds will honor a competitor’s price. With PetCareRX’s PetPlus plan members pay a $99 yearly subscription to get wholesale prices and free shipping — or you can pick up prescriptions at your local pharmacy! Allivet offers up to 70 percent off and you can save an additional 5 percent off with auto-ship. Or try the Pet Drug Card, which is a free program. Just join and print your card to get up to 75 percent off your prescriptions at 60,000+ participating pharmacies.

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Spaying & neutering

One of the first big medical expenses you’ll have for your pet is to have them spayed/neutered. You can save on spaying and neutering at one of PetSmart Charities’ approved clinics. Or, if you’re adopting a pet from the ASPCA or a local shelter, don’t rule out a pet that is already fixed.

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Pet insurance

You can quickly find and compare policies with Pet Insurance Quotes or Pet Insurance Review. Discounts for multiple pets are available with Nationwide, Embrace Pet, and ASPCA Pet Health. Your homeowner’s insurance may also include pet coverage.

There are typically three types of pet insurance coverage: Wellness (for routine vet visits and vaccinations), Accident & Illness, and Accident-Only plans. Because premiums have increased in recent years, it’s common to purchase an Accident & Illness or Accident-Only policy because treatments for accidents and/or illnesses tend to be expensive.

When you’re shopping for insurance, pay close attention to the following:

●  Deductibles: you’ll pay per incident or yearly. If your pet is accident-prone, then a yearly deductible makes the most sense.

●  Reimbursement rate: the low end is 70 percent and the high end is 90 percent of costs

●  Maximum payout

Pet Insurance is typically reimbursement-based. This means that you must pay your vet or animal hospital first and then submit your receipts for reimbursement from your insurance company. Ideally, set aside some savings for pet-related expenses.

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Use your credit cards

If you can pay for your pet supplies, vet visits, and other pet-related expenses with a credit card, you can earn points towards cashback or airline miles, depending on the card. Your credit card may also have pet-related offers. In a recent email from American Express, I learned that I could save $15 off orders over $100 at PetMeds if I paid with my Amex card.

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Use savings tools

I know I say this a lot, but it holds true for pet expenses, like so many others. On* when I searched “Pets”, I found dozens of deals on everything from treats to food at retailers, like Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chewy, and Petco. On*, there are many cashback offers and coupons. For example, at PetSafe, you can earn 7 percent off plus 6 percent bonus cash. I found a similar offer at PetCareRX. It’s worth the time to look for savings opportunities before you decide where to place your order!

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by


*The writer has a financial relationship with Slickdeals and CouponCabin.

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Trae Bodge

Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who specializes in smart shopping, personal finance, parenting, and retail. Trae has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn and a top personal finance expert by GoBankingRates and Flexjobs. She is a contributor at Millie Magazine and CNN Underscored, and her writing and expert commentary have appeared in Newsweek, Woman's Day, Forbes,, Kiplinger, Marketwatch,, Yahoo Finance and numerous others. She has also appeared on TV hundreds of times; including Good Morning America's GMA3: What You Need to Know, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, Inside Edition, CNBC and local network affiliates nationwide.