A pet (whether a dog or a cat) can be your best friend and bring happiness in your life. But, being a pet owner can cost you between $640 (for a cat) to $1,500 (for a large dog) annually. These costs typically include pet supplies, food, and veterinarian visits. If you’re considering getting a pet keep in mind that pet care expenses can get heavy on your pocket if you have a limited budget. If you currently have a pet, here are a few tips to help you reduce pet care costs.

  1. Get pet food from discount stores

According to Consumer Reports, membership warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club, and big retailers like Walmart and Target offer the best deals on cat and dog foods. But if you want to cut down on trips to the grocery store, consider making homemade pet food.

Your pet requires foods that contain protein, fat, carbohydrate, calcium, and essential fatty acids. Foods like eggs, salmon, seafood, yogurt, cooked chicken, and oatmeal are filled with these nutrients. Try to avoid foods like grapes, garlic, avocados, walnuts, and apple seeds (also avoid salts) as these are dangerous for your pet. If you want to try to prepare meals for your pet at home keep this in mind.

  1. Use homemade pet toys

You’d be surprised how content your furry friend is with things you have at home like a simple sock toy, towel tug toy, rope ball, pop bottle toy, etc. These are safe and pocket-friendly too. Here are a few homemade pet toy ideas.

  1. Avoid overfeeding

In 2016, the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) reported that 34%  of dogs and 28% of cats in the US are overweight. An obese pet will not only cost you more in food but can lead to other costly health problems such as acute liver failure (costs between $1000 to $10,000 to treat), diabetes (costs around $30 to $40 per month to treat), and so on. Visit a veterinarian to find out if your pet is at risk for obesity and to determine their ideal weight for their breed.  Inquire about the recommended daily calorie intake for your furry friend to maintain its ideal body weight.

  1. Purchase pet meds from discount retailers

There are a variety of places that you can purchase your medications. Consider purchasing your pet’s medicines at discounted rates from reputable providers such as PetCareRX and 1-800-PetMeds. Did you know that you can also purchase your pet medications from Kroger or Target’s pharmacy for as less as $4?

  1. Brush your pet’s teeth regularly

Dental procedures are costly. For instance, a tooth extraction costs between $150 to $600. Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly will keep gum disease at bay. Once your pet gets familiar with the process, you should brush their teeth between two to three times a week. But, don’t use toothpaste made for humans as it may upset your canine’s stomach.

  1. Quit pet health insurance

Insurance is known to help us in dire situations. But, for most pet owners purchasing pet health insurance is not a smart financial move. The most profitable insurance policies provide protection against financial ruin or extreme hardship as opposed to economic inconvenience. However, unless your pet’s medical expenses are creating a huge strain on your finances, it’s better to skip the insurance.

  1. Find a financial helping hand

If you are having a hard time keeping your pet, look into resources from your local non-profit organizations. They often offer free or significantly discounted pet food, vaccinations, medical care, and spay or neutering services.

  1. Opt for longer term vaccinations

Have a talk with your veterinarian and find out what vaccinations your pooch truly requires. If possible, choose 3-year vaccinations over the annual ones as they’ll save you more money.

Bonus tips: There are millions of lovable animals that need homes. If you don’t have a pet but are considering one, you can save more money by adopting a new dog from a shelter, instead of buying from a breeder or a pet store.