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Pet Aisle

Save Money on Groceries: Pet Supplies 
by Michelle Jones,

We have been blessed with many pets during our lifetime (dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, gerbils, fish, birds and even a guinea pig).  We currently have a very sweet golden retriever that we adopted through a local rescue, a chocolate cocker spaniel that we have raised from a puppy, and a 100-lb white and brown spotted brittany spaniel that found his way into our home and our hearts.  When you love animals you find a way to care for them, even on a budget.

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"My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can.  That's almost $21.00 in dog money!" - Joe Weinstein

"If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then giving Fido only two of them." - Phil Pastoret

"A very tired-looking dog wandered into my yard. I could tell from his collar and the fact that he was well-fed that he had a home and was well taken care of. He calmly came over to me, I gave him a few pats on his head; he then followed me into my house, slowly walked down the hall, curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

Courtesy of - Author Unknown

An hour later, he went to the door, and I let him out. The next day he was back, greeted me in my yard, walked inside and resumed his spot in the hall and again slept for about an hour. This continued off and on for several weeks. Curious I pinned a note to his collar: 'I would like to find out who the owner of this wonderful sweet dog is and ask if you are aware that almost every afternoon your dog comes to my house for a nap.' The next day he arrived for his nap, with a different note pinned to his collar: 'He lives in a home with 6 children, 2 under the age of 3 - he's trying to catch up on his sleep. Can I come with him tomorrow?" - C.S.

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Tip # 1 - Best Price

Wal-mart has great prices on pet food, though we have been able to buy the IAMS brand we prefer on occasion at the grocery store - when it was on sale.  We've also discovered we can get IAMS dog food cheaper at Sams Club, but we have to buy a 44 pound bag instead of the 20lb bag that Wal-mart carries. We keep our dog food in a plastic pet food container to keep it fresh and the 20lb bag is perfect.

Please Note... We do not recommend feeding your pets cheap food that is not good for them; please look for high quality foods which will enhance your pet's life, but shop for the best price and use coupons whenever you can!

Tip # 2 - ID Tags

Did you know you can get an engraved ID tag made at the pet stores for under $10.00? They are so easy to make and just take a few minutes. Along with your pets name include your phone number on the tag so people can call you if your pet gets lost.

Tip # 3 - Vaccines

When it's time for your pet's annual vaccinations, check to see if your city has a local vaccination schedule if possible.  You can save a bundle.  Our area was sponsoring 5 separate day clinics during the summer for rabies vaccinations, but our pet wasn't due until late Fall so we had to pass on this money-saving opportunity.

Please Note... Although you can save money on vaccinations through these day clinics if they are available in your area, we still recommend that you continue your pet's annual vet checkups to keep them in the best of health!

Tip # 4 - Vets

Speaking of vet bills (just as with anything else), shop around town and see who has the best price. You would think all vets might charge the same amount for annual check ups and vaccinations but they do not.  Also, you may prefer to pay more to keep your pet under the care of your personal veterinarian.  Often we do this too, it just depends on your pets needs and your budget.

Tip # 5 - Home Medical Treatments

My sister-in-law has a lot of pets and saves money by ordering vaccinations and other medical treatments from the vet, and then administers them herself. Whether you have just one pet or a houseful it's certainly a good idea to get more information about this from your veterinarian.  And you could save a fortune if you have a houseful of pets like she does! :o)

Tip # 6 - Fleas and Ticks

You can find a large variety of flea and tick prevention products just about everywhere, including your vet and local grocery stores. Advantix is just one on the market and it's what we use. Since this product is not available at our local discount stores I save a few dollars each year by purchasing it online at 1-800-PetMeds, actually I save quite a bit from what our local vet charges.

Tip # 7 - Heartworm Medicine

Heartworm prevention is a very important part of your pet's well-being so please discuss this with your vet during your next visit.  When we were in the process of adopting our dog we were very sad to learn that so many animals were infected (and being treated at a huge expense by the rescue agency) for heartworms. Once your vet does a simple blood test to make sure he/she is not heartworm positive (the test is be repeated annually) they can then prescribe chewable heartworm prevention pills that are given to the pet once a month. And just as with the flea and tick products, you can also save money on heartworm prevention pills at 1-800-PetMeds.

Tip # 8 - Price Matching

Over the years I have also learned that some vets offer price matching for the products we like to purchase online to save money.  Remember my favorite motto... "It never hurts to ask!"

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Readers' Tips...

" I contact different dog & cat food companies via e-mail, snail mail, or 800 number.  I let them know in specifics what I liked or disliked about their product(s).  If I have not tried their product I let them know I would be interested in a free sample.  This usually nets some great samples, promotional items, & coupons.  This works for other things beside pet food.  But pet food companies really appreciate any feedback since they do not get much." - Dawn in WI

" Try shopping online with a friend, then you can split the shipping.  I was buying a few things at Petco for my three dogs and found the very same things for half if not more of what I had already paid for them." - Shawna in Illinois

" Consider feeding your dog the B.A.R.F. Diet (Bones And Raw Food).  This is better for the dogs health (bones, teeth and digestive system). Information about this diet is available at the Dachshund Rescue of America-web-site. I buy my dog food at Aldi's, which is still the cheapest place also for basic food items for humans.  I get frozen raw chicken legs ($0.59/lbs.), frozen turkey meat ($0.79/lbs.), and hamburger meat as well as seasonally available raw vegetables for at least 60 to 70 % of the price I would pay in a traditional grocery store.  By feeding your dog this diet your will save money on yearly dentals, which can run up to $100.00 per visit."  - Anette in Columbus, Ohio.

"Don't buy pet tags from those little machines at the pet store! sells them for just a little more (around 7), and they last FOREVER.  What's more, you get free shipping :) " - Margaret Stickland

I received this message from a very caring reader, who saw my previous tip about buying our dog food at Wal-Mart (she did not know we were already buying a very healthy, top quality dog food because I had failed to mention the brand name; IAMS--and I have since edited the tip to include this information).  I sent her a note and am also including her tip here because it is something everyone should keep in mind when trying to save money on pet supplies...

"You will find that buying cheap Wal-Mart Dog food just doesn't pay off, because you will have more vet bills and health problems.  It is much better to buy a GOOD quality dog food from a Feed and Hay Store.  It very hard on the dog's system to keep switching those cheap foods.  Usually most of the diseased parts from the slaughter house are used and then sprayed with a coating that the dogs like with very little nutritional variety. Right when the dog is in it's prime, it may develop a little case of cancer or liver problems, etc.  IF you really love your pet you will not be cheap here." - Ann Patterson

"The yearly check up at the vets is a time for you to ask any questions of your vet, address any concerns you have with your pet and have a full check up of your pet, which may uncover problems that you are not even aware of. From experience I know that leaving problems and not getting regular check ups can end up far more costly and even put your pet at risk of serious illness and early death. With regards to price-shopping, I have worked at many different clinics with many different pricing schemes and generally find that you do get a better service at the more "pricey" clinics. It is not just enough to ask the cost of the spaying/neutering, you must also consider whether the pet gets a full check up before surgery, does it get fluids during the surgery, does it get pain relief and follow up examinations as a standard, and are the most sophisticated anesthetic drugs and monitoring protocols used?  A vaccination or spay/neuter appointment encompasses a lot more than you would think!!" - Beth of Australia

"I just recently read where Vanessa Williams got her pet injected with a microchip.  It typically costs between $20 and $40 a dog, and if they are missing, the dog can be scanned, and the dog and owner's information immediately appears for quick return home.  The chip is supposed to be about the size of a grain of rice, and no negative effects have been discovered concerning the chip. It is injected with a syringe, and I watched it being done, and the dog seems to be in no pain. They disinfect the area and numb it with ice.  Williams' dog was lost and found in a different state, and due to the microchip, the dog was returned promptly.  This may be a cost effective way to ensure your pet comes home.  If you look into the price of vaccinating your pet and feeding them alone,  it is a good investment, not only for the return of a family member, but saving you a lot of money keeping from replacing not only the memories of a lost loved one, but the fees associated with replacing a pet." Dala A.

"I adopted a cat recently and needed to get him neutered, and his vaccinations. I contacted our local animal shelter and was able to get everything done for only $38.00! When I called my usual vet to find out her charges it was going to be $89 for the spaying and $45 for the vaccines. I couldn't believe the difference. The animal shelter also does annual vaccines as well for much cheaper than my vet. Thanks for letting me share!" - Vicki in California

When purchasing your pet meds online...flea & tick/& heartworm, go through  You can get money back on your shopping, and it is free to sign up.  I just signed up a week ago & with one purchase of a six month supply of pet meds I earned an additional $13 back!  I shop at which automatically gives you 10% off anyway, and through ebates I get an additional 13% cash back. In addition to all that I got a free $5 gift certificate for my next purchase as well as free shipping!  I also use ebates for other online shopping and use google to search for coupon codes for the web site I am purchasing from. I take my dog to the vet inside most Petsmart stores.   The vet is called Banfield.  The one near me is really great & very sweet to my pet.  She loves going there.  I  signed her up for a plan.  You choose one based on your dog's/cat's age and/or needs and you pay a certain amount per month.  I pay about $30 per month for my 7 year old dog & it covers a lot.  I save at least a thousand dollars per year versus the other vets in my area. - Carrie from Fairfax, VA

"The Banfield Vet inside our local Petsmart offers a shot clinic on a walk-in basis on Saturday mornings. They charge only for the vaccination and a medical waste disposal fee---no office visit charge. This enables me to update my dog's bordatella every 6 months as required by area boarding facilities for less than half the cost of an office visit alone at our usual vet. We feed our dogs Purina. They often have 2 coupons in the same insert, one for a smaller amount off a smaller bag, another for a larger amount off a larger bag. I use both---the price per pound is usually just as good for the smaller bag when the coupon is applied. I watch for free samples and exceptional coupon offers on other quality foods, and mix those foods in with their normal food to stretch it at no cost. (For instance, we recently had a $6 coupon for a $9 bag of one of Purina's non-premium foods---I mixed it in with their premium label food.)  Nothing saves money like bathing and grooming your dog at home. It costs $55 each to have them "detailed" at the local pet store, and they needed to go about every 6 weeks. For $150, I was able to buy a grooming arm that clamps on to a folding table, a nice set of clippers, a rotary tool and clippers for nail maintenance, starter supplies (shampoo, etc.), scissors, and a video about how to do it that I can now re-sell. In cold weather we bathe them in the bathtub. In warm weather, we use a plastic wading pool that I bought at a yard sale for 50 cents." - Karen M.

"Look for products that are replaced if they are destroyed. I buy Lupine brand collars and leashes because if they wear out, get chewed up, etc., Lupine will replace them for free, no questions asked. You can get a replacement at any local store that sells the brand, the store will do the replacement and take care of sending the old one back to the company.  I buy PetSakes dog beds because they will replace a bed up to 3 times if it gets destroyed.  Also, if you dog likes to destuff and destroy toys, buy old kids' toys at yard sales (remember to remove all plastic eyes/noses or other small parts) and let the dog have those to destroy.  You can usually spend $1 and get several toys, rather than $3-7 for one from the pet store." - Abby Jakoplic  

Editor's Note: We have included this reader's tip regarding buying old kids' toys at yard sales for overactive dogs who like to destroy pet toys.  Note, the tip also says to remove all plastic eyes/noses or other small parts.  These used kids toys will cost a fraction of what new ones do at the pet store, this is certainly correct.  However, another reader wrote to me with a great point, not all kid toys are safe for dogs to chew!  Especially if you have large dogs like we do, they sometimes not only tear the toy apart, but they ingest the plastic parts or stuffing as they chew.  So please be careful and provide safe chew toys for your pet. :o)

"Here are some pet care tips that I have learned over the years, having a lot of dogs. EXERCISE: All pets need this and so do we. When we give our pet's the proper amount of exercise they will be happy healthy and will be less likely to tear our stuff up and be a problem pet. After all do you want to work extra when you are tired? nd taking our dogs for a walk will help us also. Both will be in better shape and live a much healthier life. FOOD: I have checked out a lot of foods. I have found that most contain fillers; corn, wheat and by products. These are nothing but stuff to make the animal feel full and give it no benefit whatsoever. Most animals have allergies to these things and the owner will spend a lot of money trying to find out what is wrong with their pet. When buying a pet food buy ones that have no grain, wheat or by products. Yes they make them. Buy the best you can afford. Another thing about getting a good food, when your pets eats good food their body will use it up so it will eat less and poop less. When you can do better you will do better. SHOTS: Check out the SPCA or PETA in your area. Here, our SPCA has a full vet clinic and will do the job for about 1/2 the price of the vet. Our SPCA has low cost dog houses for low income people. If you are having a little trouble with the cost of health care for your pet they might help here. The people at the SPCA want to help and want you to keep your pet. Our PETA is offering to fix your pet for $5.00 and $5.00 for rabies shots. No where else will you get a deal like this. While on this subject PLEASE get your pet fixed. In America we euthanize about 9.6 million a year that is not including the ones that are abused. If you love animals don't be a part of the problem be a answer to it. We as pet owners can put a stop to most of this by fixing our pets and keeping them at home not running loose. TOYS: Be careful about which toys you get your pet. Some have a coating that is harmful to them. This coating is to make the dog to want to chew on the "bone". We make most of ours. Our dogs like old towels with a knot tied in it so they can drag each other around. We have 2 large dogs. Both about 70 to 90 lbs. Take all of your old socks and stuff them into one, tie a knot in the end. Sometimes we go to the dollar store and find a few things they will like. As with most pets and kids, they just want to be with you. They will be very happy to spend time with you. Enjoy them both till you are content. Love them with all your heart and live a long happy life." - J. Sterling

"Engraved pet tags. I used one of these machines to create a name/phone number tag for my key chain. Believe me, I will lose my keys, but will often have my cell phone on me. I've been in a store and received a call telling me that my keys were waiting for me at the manager's desk more than once. The cost of the tag is much, MUCH cheaper than hiring a locksmith to re-key everything. Cheers!" - Pamela M.

"I love the dog story and my pug has the same bed he chews on. I buy large cans of dog food which I halve for 2 feedings. He is picky though and only eats drained and washed chunks. Kroger also sells 12 cans for around $7 which is better than paying $1 a can. We buy 1 pack every 2 weeks. Bulk I find is better for us and helps us save money." - Lori S.

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