Stroll into any supermarket and you may see shoppers peering curiously at their grocery bills. The looks on their faces make it clear that sticker shock has set in--the cost of food, and just about everything else--has risen sharply over the past year.
Prices in the pet food aisle are no exception. The increasing cost to manufacture food, coupled with the high gas prices to transport food to stores, has forced pet food makers to shift the costs to consumers who are getting a one-two punch in the wallet.
Finding ways to cut costs is at the top of many pet owners' minds. Petside explored cost-cutting tips for savvy pet owners and came up with some hints for saving on food, toys, vet costs, and even on that cute carrying case you've had your eye on.
Saving money on pet food means doing some research and comparing prices, which is the basic principle in any cost-cutting measure.
-Depending on the size of your pet and its preferences, you may be able to save about five to 10 percent buying at warehouse clubs like Costco or BJs. If you're not a member or you don't want to lug home a 50 lb bag of pet chow, large discount chains like Target and Wal-Mart also offer lower prices than pet specialty stores.
-If your pal likes a certain gourmet brand of food available only at large chains like Petco and Petsmart, sign up for their reward card or clip the store coupons. Buying online is also an option.
-Local dollar stores often have an entire aisle devoted to pet supplies. Name brand items--from leashes to chew toys--can sometimes be found for pennies on the dollar.
-Practice prevention to save money on vet bills. Make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise and good nutrition. Bringing in your pet for regular check-ups will catch problems early and prevent costly visits, or even hospitalization in the future. Keep all records of pet immunizations so if you change vets, you won't have to repeat them.
-A local humane society may offer basic health services and proceeds from the visit will help protect endangered animals.
Laura Shanahan, author of 21 Ways to Cut Vet Costs, recommends spaying or neutering your pet to prevent behavioral problems lower the rate of breast cancer in dogs and cats by up to 99 percent. Un-neutered male dogs, for example, have a greater risk of prostate infections, leading to costly treatments.
-Always seek a second opinion when the vet recommends a costly procedure. This may not be the only option available to keep your pet healthy.
-For prescriptions, try buying online at stores like 1-800 PetMeds.com. DrugStore.com also now fills pet prescriptions, often at deep discounts. If you see a better price online and want to save time and money on shipping costs, ask your vet to match it.
TOYS, NOVELTY ITEMS AND GROOMING
-Hit the dollar store to save big bucks. The same chew toy found in the dollar store is $5.99 on sale at a big pet store chain.
-For grooming, do as much of it yourself to save money. See petside's articles on cat grooming and dog grooming to learn basic grooming. Also, check out Dr. Lauren's How-Tos for tips on cutting your pets nails, brushing their teeth and more!
-Try shopping online to find deals. Drugstore.com regularly has pet grooming supplies on sale. Pet shampoos and other grooming supplies can be found online at sites like terrificpets.com