Caring for a Senior Pet on a Budget: What You Need to Know

Pets are expensive. According to CNBC, the cost of owning a pet over its lifetime can amount to over $30,000 for cats and a whopping $42,545 for dogs. This is a reality that is not often discussed; after all, what is money compared to the love you feel for your pet? However, ignoring the realities of pet expenses will not make them go away, and will, in fact, probably make it harder for you to manage your money.

Managing your pet budget can become even more complicated as the animal grows older. Their lifestyles and bodies change, their health can become more fragile, and you may need to adjust the way you take care of your beloved pet’s expenses. This may feel intimidating, but there are ways to keep things under budget without sacrificing your pet’s health or happiness.

Supplies

When you got your pet, you probably shelled out some money to cover all the basic supplies. This may have felt like a big expense, but you would have reassured yourself that they were “one-time costs.” But as your pet grows older, you may need to replace and upgrade some of the supplies to accommodate their needs.

For example, senior-friendly supplies for dogs could include an orthopedic bed, dog stairs, or non-slip socks to keep them safe. The best way to save on these products is to shop at major retailers like Target, which often have big sales and discounts. What’s more, you can also use Target in-store coupons to help lower prices even further.

Food

Buying the cheapest generic brands may feel like the budget-conscious choice, but it could result in higher vet bills down the line. And pets are like humans: eating a healthy, high-quality diet only becomes more important as they grow older.

High-quality, grain-free food is the healthiest option, and despite what you may think, there are affordable options out there. Homemade pet food can also be both healthy and cost-effective, as long as you are careful to include all the necessary nutrients.

Older pets tend to need fewer calories and are healthiest when kept lean, which means that you should be controlling food portions carefully. This will have the double effect of saving you a bit of money, especially if you have a habit of being quite indulgent when filling the food bowl.

Of course, some pets can be underweight and will need to eat more calorie-dense meals (this will usually involve switching food, not increasing portions). Discuss any nutritional changes with your vet to make sure you are doing what’s best for the animal.

Vet Bills

Money Under 30 recommends setting aside between $1,000 and $2,000 for an emergency vet bill, which is highly likely to happen within the pet’s lifetime. As your pet gets older, this sort of emergency (or prolonged illness) is only going to become more likely.

Although it may not seem it, the most budget-friendly option is to purchase pet insurance. You will have to pay monthly premiums — an average of $44.66 for dogs and $27.93 for cats — but overall this will be a lot less money than the full cost of an emergency procedure.

However, this is only a viable option if your pet is currently healthy, as most insurance will not cover a pre-existing condition. Purchasing insurance while your pet is still healthy is also likely to be cheaper — so the sooner, the better.

As you can see, the best ways to keep pet maintenance costs low as pets grow older tend to align with the best ways to keep them healthy and safe. This is because the biggest cost of owning a senior pet is always going to be healthcare, and anything that keeps them fit is reducing the likelihood of that scary vet bill.

When you combine this attitude with classic money-saving habits like shopping around and checking for online coupons, you can keep the cost of your pet’s senior years under control, all the while making this time as happy and comfortable as you can for them.

About Jessica Brody
Jessica is a dog lover and creator of OurBestFriends.pet. She created the site to offer a place for animal lovers to share their favorite pet photos and stories about their furry pals. Jessica believes dogs are the best creatures on earth. She enjoys writing about and sharing photos of dogs (and other pets!) on her website.

Photo via Pexels

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