Money Saving Tips for Choosing Pets



Money-saving Tips
for Choosing Pets

By Jonni McCoy

Getting a family pet can be one of the most rewarding events in a child’s life. The pet provides companionship, entertainment, and exercise. But sometimes the wrong pet for the family style and needs can be disastrous. Many pets require a certain type of care. Some dogs, for example, cost more to own and require more physical interaction and attention.

Without proper attention, they can start to act strangely, chewing up things and sometimes even biting or growling.

Some other mammals, especially the small ones, may be better suited for certain people.

Smaller mammals, such as rats, rabbits, hamsters, and guinea pigs, are not only less demanding but also less expensive.

How does one decide if he or she can afford a pet? When deciding if you can launch into this addition to the family, don’t forget to factor in the love it will provide in return. This is something no one can put a price tag on.

After deciding what the initial purchase fee will be, the prospective owner must look at food, vet bills, cage (if required), and any accessories that may be needed. Another consideration is if your family is away from home much. Will pet sitting be a regular expense?

A dog can cost $13,000 over its lifetime. A third of that goes to food and another third to vet bills. The other third is spent on training, collars, leashes, toys, and so forth. A cat will cost significantly less, with small mammals, reptiles, and fish trailing behind.

Food can be an overwhelming expense if you have a large and active animal, such as a dog.

There are ways to get around this expense if you are creative. These ideas have helped us in the past.

  • Buy in bulk quantities at discount pet superstores.

  • Avoid buying food from the vet.

  • Don’t feed the animal too much.

  • Learn to make some pet food by cooking it in bulk quantities yourself.

That last one may surprise you. When we lived in Nigeria and Pakistan, we didn’t have the luxury of a supermarket or canned pet food.  Instead, we made all of our pet’s food.

For dog food, we boiled some meat and a bone with some rice and herbs. We would add some oils to the mix for the animal’s coat. For a cat, you can chop a few teaspoons of fish, chicken, or egg yolk and mix it with a tablespoon of cooked rice or oats, a teaspoon of milk or sour cream, and a little oil for its coat.

There are several recipe books in the library with various meals to make for pets. You can even make your own dry pet food.

Vet bills can be an expense we forget to plan for. The average family spends between $100 and $350 per year on their pet. Set aside money for these expenses.

Where routine vet expenses are concerned, there are ways to save money.   Here are a few.

  • Ask around at pet stores if they host a mobile vaccine clinic in the area. These are usually 75 percent cheaper than a vet office visit.

  • Practice good health and hygiene. This preventative measure can save hundreds of dollars.

  • Ask around about vet prices, which vary greatly.

  • Get videos from the library on dental cleaning at home, grooming, and clipping.

  • Get books at the library on simple home remedies for common ailments.

Our personal favorite for a pet is a rat, which is inexpensive to purchase (about $4), doesn’t require vaccinations or vet visits, and doesn’t need a great deal of exercise.

Surprisingly, rats are very social and well tempered. They also are inexpensive to feed.

We occasionally buy rabbit food for them, but they do very well on leftover lettuce, carrot tops, carrot peelings, oats, sunflower seeds, and other things we have around the house.

We found rats to be a good choice for our rambunctious 4-year-old, and we’ve had them as a family addition every since.

Jonni McCoy is a freelance writer, wife, mother of two, and homeschooler living in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is author of Miserly Moms: Living on One Income in a Two Income Economy (Holly Hall Publications, 888-669-4693, $9.95 ppd). This article appeared in the Christian Financial Concepts newsletter.

[The question of pets is a large one.  The negatives that I see would be the cost.  As McCoy discusses below, a dog can cost $13,000 over its lifetime.  Even if one could limit this to $1 a day, this would be $365 a year or $3,650 in ten years.  Yet there are millions dying of starvation a year.  And some countries have per capita income of only $100 or $200 a year!  The other matter, is the additional time it takes to raise a dog or other major pet.  This could take a half hour a day.  How many even read their Bibles or pray for this amount of time, yet we are willing to have a pet that takes more time than these God-oriented activities.  We’ve often wondered about the matter of how many people, including adults, may focus their attention on a dog or cat, and somehow their focus on God or Jesus Christ is minimized in the process.  They may even keep a running “conversation” with their dog!  On the other hand, there are positives.  A pet can help a child to learn responsibility and unselfishness.  In the country, a dog can offer many benefits—such as scaring off the wild animals or protecting one’s domestic animals or even child.  All of this needs to be weighed when it comes to choosing a pet.  Do so only after prayer to the Lord.  RH]


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