6 Tips to Save Thousands on Pet Care

By ABC News

Jul 24, 2013 2:52pm

ABC News’ Paula Faris reports:

The Seversons can’t imagine life without their Labrador retrievers, 5-year-old Buddy and 3-month-old Maverick.

But at $50 a week for food, $35 a week on toys and teething treats and grooming costs that are more than their kids’ haircuts, the dogs are expensive.  They’re spending about $120 a week, adding up to a little more than $6,000 a year and that doesn’t include medicine or visits to the vet.

Americans are expected to shell out a whopping $55 billion on their animals this year, according to the American Pet Products Association.

But do canine costs have to put your family budget in the doghouse?

Animal insider and veterinarian Dr. Liz Hanson says no. Here are some tips to save.

Tip #1: Pet Care Services. Hanson says use apps like Pet Care Services to compare prices of area groomers, dog walkers and animal hospitals. You can even find the closest dog parks.

Tip #2: Don’t always buy medicines from your vet.  Hanson says: “There is a markup at the veterinary hospital.”  

Tip #3: GoodRx. To make sure you’re getting the best price, go to the GoodRx Pets’ brand new free website. For just one of Buddy’s prescriptions, the Seversons found four vastly different prices from $27 to $112.

Tip #4: Save on food. When you’re ready to buy, consider Amazon’s Subscribe and Save. You’ll save 15 percent and they’ll deliver for free.

Tip #5: Try DogVacay.com. Next time your family’s away, consider DogVacay.com. With 10,000 vetted hosts across America, families in your town sign up to pamper pups right from their own homes. They’re also about 40 percent cheaper than a kennel.

Tip #6: Pet insurance may not be right for your dog. Pet insurance can take a bite out of your bottom line and it may not be right for your dog depending on the breed.

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                                                                         (Jon Schulte/Getty Images)

Certain dogs are more susceptible to illness, such as golden retrievers, Cocker spaniels, labs and bulldogs. Terriers and greyhounds are least prone. Before you buy, consult your vet.

Pet insurance is right for the Seversons. Maverick had a large lump appear on his head overnight. After trips to the veterinarian and procedures like CT Scans and biopsies, they’re staring at a $3,600 bill.  Because they have $40 per month pet insurance, they’ll be reimbursed 65 to 70 percent of that cost. Some pet insurance companies offer plans that cover emergencies and accidents starting at $8 to $10 per month.

Daily dental cleanings can also add two to four years to your dog’s life. Giving them dental treats helps too.

“Saving money with preventative care is huge,” Hanson said. “If you do not take care of your dog’s teeth, it can lead to significant kidney disease, significant heart failure.”

Using all these tips, the Seversons could cut their monthly pet spending from $6,130 to $4,500. That saves them $1,630 and that’s a lot of extra doggy dollars in their pockets.

ABC News’ Eric Noll contributed to this report.

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