The Cost of Pet Care—Keeping Pet Costs Down to a Low Growl

February 2014 View more

iStock_000022531971LargeBefore outlining cost-saving tips for pet owners, know that whether you choose a pure-bred pup or kitten, or a kennel pet, both money and time are on the line. I have seen too many people purchase a pet, expect it to have no idiosyncrasies, expect that housetraining is as simple as 1-2-3, and for all intents and purposes, hope that the pet will be pretty much “care free.”

I never expected my children, nor my pets, to raise themselves. They require more than a little bit of patience, parenting, and love. I say this as I watch my Shih-Tzu snoozing on my pillow—life is good. And, yes, pets are an expense.

With that in mind, Naperville pet experts offer some cost-savings suggestions from food and daycare, to vaccinations. All seem to agree there are places to cut back and others not.

 Don’t skimp on quality food

Just like eating fast food is bad for us, pets’ nutritional food promotes good health—and less clean up. Angie Wood, executive director of the Naperville Area Humane Society advises that you want protein as the first ingredient on the package, not a protein by-product. Other experts recommend food with no grains (See Naperville Petco Manager Peter Clark suggests hitting up for food specials online, which could save you as much as 10 percent to 50 percent.

Also don’t be chintzy on chewy toys like rawhide and bones that promote healthy teeth. And don’t forget to brush your pets’ teeth. The cost of removing teeth is very expensive and it’s the number one diagnosis for cats and dogs, before any other ill. Prevention pays dividends.

Health Care

I love our vet of 20 plus years but I choke somewhat at the price of shots. However, that’s just one service vets provide. For example, our vet found a tiny lump that we hadn’t spotted, forestalling a more serious illness. But for shots, you do have alternatives. Three times a month on Sunday mornings, Petco on Route 59 in Naperville provides rabies shot clinic for 40 percent to 50 percent off. So, you can score rabies shots in one place and still do the checkup with your regular vet.

Banfield Pet Hospital, located inside most PetSmart stores, provides affordable vet costs and convenient hours. They offer a free first-time visit and their Optimum Wellness Plans provide preventive care that you pay for on a monthly basis – similar to Flex Spending Programs offered by many employers.

Others, like Naperville Animal Hospital, offer free first wellness exams for adopted dogs, 50 percent off the first grooming and one free night of boarding. I suspect there are other good deals, if you’ll just check. If you are having financial difficulties, your trusted vet often will let you spread your payment out over several months.

 New Pet, Old Pet

Both Petco and PetSmart sell cats and dogs that come from shelters, complete with shots and spaying/neutering. There’s a considerable costs savings there and your new baby can’t wait to be loved by you.


Very easy to save here. Ask your relatives or a dependable teen to feed and walk your pets, or take them into their homes while you’re away.


If you’ve ever seen a dog get sheared because he is a tangled mess, it’s painful and unnecessary. Either pick pets with limited grooming needs such as a short-coated or smooth-coated Doxie, or learn how to groom them yourself. A wash, monthly clip, and periodic brushing will do the trick.