More ways to save on pet care costs

Dear Paws Corner: It seems the cost of pet food has risen, among other things. I have to feed my cat “Barney” a special diet which includes canned food I can only get from my vet. Is there any way I can cut costs on items like this without risking Barney’s health? – May K., San Diego

Dear May: There are always ways to find savings in our everyday budgets as well as pet care-related costs. Talk to your veterinarian about the brand of pet food Barney has to eat – is there a comparable product that doesn’t cost so much? If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, try searching for the pet food by name on the Internet. In addition to the food manufacturer’s website where you may find coupons or other locations at which to buy it, you may find forums where pet owners share information that could help you save money.

Consumer Reports recently published a series of articles on cutting pet care costs. The report can be found in their August 2011 issue, or online here (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/august/money/pet-costs/overview/index.htm). Here is a brief summary of their tips:

  • If you’re buying “premium” pet food, look around for comparable products that cost less, buy in bulk at a “big box” store, or look at store brands.
  • Concerned about veterinary costs? Shop around—check with other vets for their service rates.
  • The vet is no longer the only source of pet medicines: Walgreens, Giant/Eagle, Kroger and Target either have or are testing pet prescription programs.
  • Keep up with preventive care: Schedule an annual checkup and vaccinations at the vet, and perform home health maintenance like feeding a healthy diet, brushing teeth, etc.