How to Save Money on a Dog

The following is a guest post by Glen, owner of How to Save Money. If you are interested in guest-posting, please contact me.

I’m crazy about my four-legged friend (his name is Ricky) and about dogs in general. I’m the type of person to try and never pass by a dog without petting it (which has earned me some pretty weird looks, especially from my wife). Most importantly, I am committed to my pets happiness and health. But being gaga over dogs doesn’t mean that you have to spend a fortune on them. In fact, I have developed some quite thrifty habits, in both big picture terms and surrounding day to day living which I will share with you.

how to save money on a dog

Ricky as a puppy

Save a Life

I always promote people to get their dogs form a dog shelter. Many of the dogs who live in a shelter haven’t chosen to live there, and it’s possible that their lives may be ending soon if people don’t have the heart to rescue them. Years ago I saved the life of Ricky, when he was just a puppy. I had never had a dog before, let alone a rescue dog, and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fortunately for me (and Ricky), it was one of the best decisions of my life. Not only was it significantly cheaper for my wife and I to buy him from a shelter than it would have been from a shop, but we had that warm fuzzy feeling inside of us, knowing that we were bringing him into a good home and that we potentially rescued him from death row. Obviously there were adoption fees involved, which came to a couple of hundred dollars, but that money not only paid for Ricky, but it allowed the shelter to continue housing and feeding the other dogs that hadn’t found a home yet. Lots of people still buy pets from the local pet store, and that’s OK, but for me the only reason I would buy a dog from the store is if I needed a specific breed. Poodles, for example, are hypoallergenic and you may need this quality if you have a child with allergies.

 Feeding your Dog the Right Way

Feeding your dog costs money, particularly if you want to feed them quality pet food. Just be sure not to over feed them, as this not only costs you money, but can lead to health issues for your pooch. The best bet is to try and maintain a good healthy diet and a good healthy weight. The same as with people, buying food in bulk is one of the best ways to save money. We always buy Ricky’s food in bulk and it saves us a few hundred dollars every year. Another thing to be mindful of is if there are any coupons that you might be able to use as this is another great way to save money.

 Saving on Medical Care

Vets and medical care can cost a small fortune. I’ve found that the best way to cut vet bills is to keep your dog healthy. Make sure your pet is properly fed and exercised. If you play with your pet you will also benefit from the increased exercise and decreased stress. Illness does happen and you can save yourself money, and some potentially devastating decisions if you purchase pet insurance up front. I know it sounds a bit crazy as we are talking about a dog, but I also thought that way once. Unfortunately for us Ricky had an issue with his elbows at an early age, and so the vet bills started rolling. We tried to get pet insurance after his issues, but by then no insurance company was interested. Long story short, I wish I had bought the insurance the day we brought him home with us as it would have been a lot cheaper in the long run.

General vet visits can be very expensive. Talk to your vet about what tests and treatments are really necessary. Tell them that you can’t afford everything. I have never met a vet who wasn’t sensitive to cost issues. In fact, my vet often gives us free advice if the problem is only minor in nature.

 Holidays and Dogs

Are you about to take a vacation? Here is an idea that has saved us a heap of money and that I believe is better for my dog than putting him in a kennel. Find a friend or relative and see if they can look after your dog for you while you are away. Of course, you have to trust this person, so don’t just pick anyone. Better yet, (and my personal favorite) take your dog with you, at least if you are driving. There are plenty of dog friendly hotels and motels everywhere these days. To be honest, this is something that me and my family love doing. Ricky loves coming on holidays with us as much as we love having him with us.

Other great money saving tips include:

• Groom your dog yourself.

• Don’t buy expensive toys.

• Buy durable toys.

• Spay or neuter your pet.

• Teach basic training at home.

That’s it! Your dog need not cost a fortune. Now go out and play with it. You could use a break and he/she could use the love.

Glen is the owner of How to Save Money, a personal finance website dedicated to helping people save money and find financial freedom. Glen recently paid off over $300,000 in mortgage debt within 7 years, so why not visit his site and connect with him via Twitter or Facebook to see if he can help you too.



  1. Kennels are very expensive, especially if you are going for an extended vacation (1 week+) We try to have relatives watch our dog but sometimes that’s not possible. If we know it won’t work out, we save months in advance so when we have to pay the kennel bill it doesn’t wreck that month’s budget.
    Brian @ Luke1428 recently posted…Why I’m Quitting My Job To Be A Stay At Home DadMy Profile

  2. Aw, Ricky is adorable! I worked at an animal shelter in the past, and I loved it when people found their doggie (or kitty) soulmate. Both of my cats were adopted from our town shelter. Our adoption fees were $111 for dogs and included shots, and $40 for cats. I thought they were pretty reasonable! Animal shelters also tend to be underfunded and rely heavily on donations, so it’s great to help them out.
    E.M. recently posted…Setting Up a Joint Bank Account…When You’re Not MarriedMy Profile

  3. We recently came very close to adopting a dog from a shelter, and then another situation where our friend is going to Japan for 5 years and she needs someone to adopt her dog. We came close but decided we don’t have the time necessary to give it the attention we’d want. I’m sure we will eventually get a dog and will definitely get it from a shelter. There’s no way I’m going to a breeder and the idea of getting one from a breeder horrifies me because there are so many dogs in shelters that need homes.
    DC @ Young Adult Money recently posted…5 Drawbacks of Freelancing and ConsultingMy Profile

  4. These are great tips! We don’t have a dog, but we have a cat and we have saved money with him by doing his grooming at home. He is a himalayan and needs to have his undercoat cleaned up every few months otherwise he will knot up and have bald spots. The process costs $50 a visit, but we purchased a comb for $25 and do it ourselves. Pets can get very pricey and you always have to look for the best ways to control costs while also providing for them.
    Shannon @ Financially Blonde recently posted…Music Mondays – ChangesMy Profile

  5. Great tips that any pet lover would thank you for. As dog lovers, all of us in the family make sure we do our share in the care and health maintenance of our 2 dogs, Ember and Yuki, so that the only trip to the vet is something absolutely necessary.

  6. We have 1 dog his breed is a Japanese Spitz, he is such a playful dog. We only went to his veterinary when he had a shot of anti-rabies and got his complete vaccination. We did a lot of research before buying our dog last year.
    Marie @ The Money Template recently posted…Why Dividends are the Ultimate Passive Income StreamMy Profile

  7. I grew up with a dog (poodle and Saint Bernard) so for the majority of my life I had a four legged friend. Dogs have added value in my life. When I set off on my own I was thinking of adopting a dog but realized I didn’t have the time to give because of my travel requirements.

    Anyhow, there are ways to leave your pet with a dog-sitter using a service like DogVacay. You can either make money dog-sitting or save some money while you’re away.
    The Phroogal Jason recently posted…99 Things to Do Instead of Spending Money This SummerMy Profile

  8. We just couldn’t bare to leave Ricky in a kennel. Not only is is expensive, but we would miss him terribly.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  9. Thanks, we think he is pretty cute too 🙂
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  10. I’m sure that if you do get one you will love it.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  11. That sounds like a great way to save money!
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  12. Thanks for the kind words 🙂
    I love your dog’s names by the way.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  13. I have never heard of that breed before – i’ll have to look it up.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  14. I know a few people that use dog sitters and they think it works really well.
    Glen @ How To Save Money recently posted…Making Extra Mortgage PaymentsMy Profile

  15. Good tips. We bring our dog with us whenever we vacation by car. He’s seen a good chunk of the East Coast and logged quite a few miles. The only time we’ve ever left him was our most recent trip to Mexico.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted…Holy Budget, Batman!My Profile

  16. Great article! I am a huge fan of Operation Greyhound. They adopt out rescued greyhounds that were former racing dogs, usually in Mexico. It’s a great organization and greyhounds make great pets.
    Kalen @ MoneyMiniBlog recently posted…6 Haggling Hacks for Buying a Used Car (With Personal Example)My Profile