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4 ways to save on pet ownership

By Shannyn Allan ·
Friday, December 14, 2012
Posted: 11 am ET

If you yearn to add a pet to your family, you may be astonished at how expensive it is to own and care for a little Fido or Fluffy.

While there are some expenses you can't avoid -- such as medical emergencies or chewed-up shoes -- there are ways to cut costs if you're ready for pet ownership.

Following are four ways to tap free or discounted resources to help you find and care for a furry friend without breaking the bank.

Adopt a shelter pet instead of buying a purebred

This can cut initial costs in half. In my own experience adopting a pug, I found that it costs anywhere from $300 to $1,000 just to bring home a pet from a breeder, whereas I could adopt a shelter pet for a package fee of $300 or less. If you're dead set on a purebred, do a search for breed-specific rescues to cut costs and save a life.

Adopt an older pet

This saves even more money. If you're open to having a pet that's past the puppy or kitten stage, you also get the benefit of a mellower pet that is potty-trained. Also, fees may be lower when adopting older pets.

Look for deals on vaccinations and veterinary care

Many local feed and pet stores offer vaccination clinics. Local rescues offer veterinary discounts for volunteers, or provide assistance for special-needs pets. Check your local newspaper or Google happenings in your area.

Swap pet care with friends or other pet owners

Boarding can be expensive if you need to travel. If you don't have a friend who can "pet sit" for you, try finding other pet owners using online animal enthusiast groups or meet-ups.

Shannyn Allan is a blogger at and loves to talk about finance, fitness and fashion. She currently has several pugs of her own that she tries to spoil without going over budget. You can follow her on Twitter @FrugalBeautiful.

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December 15, 2012 at 9:50 am

About the only thing you mention that was worth mentioning was about "pet sitting." I have often taken care of my neighbors dogs (and cats) and my neighbors want to know when we are going away so they can flip over who watches our dog.

December 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

I was really disappointed in the contents of this article. I thought it would be about costs accrued once you had the dog. A lot of people don't think they have any maintenance fees. They think they get the dog and coast. They have pictures in their minds of running fields with their dog by their side playing 'fetch'. They don't think of vaccinations, hip dislocations or cornea repair. Like my son said the other day after I returned from the vet. "Mom, you put way too much money into those dogs of yours. You should simply put them to sleep when they have a problem and get a new one!" I was shocked speechless. This was MY son. I couldn't believe it. He is married and has three kids so he is no youngster. Having a dog is expensive. Your tip about getting an older dog is a good one, initially, but an older dog has many more problems that need medical attention so that needs to be figured into the equation. My dogs are 16, 14 and 6. I know what I am talking about!

December 15, 2012 at 8:30 am

George -- you are right, for you. I hope you never adopt a pet with that attitude. Many people shouldn't have kids, much less pets, and you sound like one of them.

tara schaller
December 15, 2012 at 7:56 am

it needs to be said that if you DO want a purebred, there are, i believe the statistics now are 25%, of purebreds at rescues. and for diane re:poodle rescue - this place needs to be reported. if everyone would do SOMEthing to end the horrific conditions that so called "breeders" are producing puppies, and what they do with the spent mommas and daddys when they have outserved their purpose, then these "breeders" can be closed down....for good. i understand there are loving, caring people breeding their pets, but it's always about the profit. if you don't love an animal for who they are, but only for what they can make for you, then you shouldn't be a pet owner.
i also believe that owners should be required to be licensed to own a pet....and MANDATORY spay and neutering. there are 4 MILLION animals euthanized each year in this country, not to mention those that are beaten to death, or thrown from cars or just let loose, by "owners" who no longer have need of them.
and support no-kill shelters. these people save lives. and most sacrifice not only their time, but their own resources, to make sure that their shelters remain open and running.
God forgive us that we turn our backs on the cruelty and abuse all around us, and pretend we are unaware. EVERYone deserves at least one chance to be loved....even for a day!
until there is no longer a need for shelters!

December 15, 2012 at 6:16 am

I went to a "poodle rescue" last year, what a disaster!! It wasn't the dog,it was the owner of the "rescue". I feel sorry for the animals she is placing, she truly was a wack job. I went thru hell with her, almost to court, so if anyone is thinking of a "rescue" research the PLACE with a fine-tooth comb. The rescue did not go thru. I was devastated, the dog & I bonded & she would have had a loving, caring home. I will never do this again because of what I went through, this is probably the reason adoption & rescue get a bad rap & people stay away.

December 15, 2012 at 5:32 am

You don't know what you are getting or the true story behind a dog that comes from the shelter or a rescue, yes there are some good ones, but then again, there are some very bad ones. I am a labrador breeder, and I research the people that want one of my pups, I give a lifetime guarantee on genetics for my dogs, and I stand behind them, Stay away from the pet stores they are just outlets for puppy mills, Say what you will, you get what you pay for and if you cannot afford to have your dog vetted, there are clinics that are low cost. We live in Florida and the vets here are outrageous for vet fees a health certificate 100 plus dollars in iowa its 6.00, tell me why it would be so different, and the vets seem to be more caring there. You just have to research what you are looking for and know what you are getting into, don't buy a pet at christmas for a gift, hardly ever works out unless all the people are on the same page. Rip me if you will, but its my personal opinion.

December 15, 2012 at 2:20 am

Pet stores everywhere are experiencing these pet food risks.
I think it is great that you run a pet store and your telling people now to buy your product.
Pet supplies
Some owners might now realize this problem affects their type of pet product.

Betty Emery
December 15, 2012 at 12:28 am

I am with a rescue and I also network dogs on deathrow in kill shelters all over America. Either place you will find a companion dog. Let the dog pick you. In my opinion, we already love the dog before we go get them. Pittys are getting a really bad rap these days. Most pitbulls are so loveable, it is the owner, not the breed, remember that. Can you turn around what has been done, absolutely. You have only to look at the dogs Mike Vick used for fighting or his bait dogs. Only one, had to be euthanized, or murdered is more like it, through no fault of the dog's. A lot of shelters test these dogs now. Right about the hi stress environment. I will tell you this. Golden Retrievers can be deemed aggressive in shelters, since the shelter worker is not educationed enough to know that Goldens fear level is ten times higher than other breeds. Their "agression" is defense due to high fear. There are a lot of dogs that are deemed aggressive, that once out of the shelter, they are love bugs. I have networked three years on fb. if you want to find a dog, friend a networker on fb. We know the shelters and usually tell a lot about the dog. Since we do this all the time.

December 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm

If you want to cut pet costs, don't get one. 100% savings, very simple.

December 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Another point that should be mentioned is that you must compare the TOTAL cost of adopting from a shelter, compared to adopting from a rescue. Most rescues go WAY in the hole on every pet they foster, and basically that's money that someone would have paid if they had gotten that same pet from a local pound or shelter.

Very few shelters vaccinate their dogs or even have a vet look the dog over (unless there is an obvious problem, in which case often they euthanize it rather than spending money on a vet. Not their fault, really -- they all have brutally low budgets from the county or city. Most shelters in my state don't even vaccinate for rabies or kennel cough, and require you to see a vet and get the animal spayed or neutered within a certain time.

Most rescues have already spent the money for vet visit(s), all vaccinations and the spay/neuter. We average about $450 in every dog & only charge a $250 adoption fee. The rest comes out of my retirement pay & monthly SS check, plus the food & treats for 30 dogs, plus the gas back & forth to the vet & feed store.

If you truly want to save some $$ on adopting a dog, go to a bonafide rescue organization, not your local shelter. Another consideration is that most rescue groups have each dog fostered with a family for months before it's adopted, so you have a VERY good idea of the dog's temperament and personality. No amount of temperament testing in a shelter is of much use, since the dog is in a high-stress environment and his or her reaction is relatively meaningless compared to being observed interacting with a family for months. If knowing that a dog is good with children, or strangers, or cats is important ... go to a rescue. With a shelter dog, it's just rolling the dice, and some shelters won't refund their fee. All reputable rescues usually allow 30 days to make sure the adoption works well for everyone.