There is little doubt (and actual scientific evidence) that pets help us live longer, happier lives. The cost of raising a pet can, however, take a chunk out of a family budget.
As a new pet owner myself, exploring ways to save money was at the top of my list. A little research later, and I’ve got an entire list of military savings for pet owners.
How to Find Military Savings as a Pet Owner
Plan Before You Become a Pet Owner
Planning ahead can help to keep pet costs manageable. Before you bring an animal home, take time to do some research.
Some breeds are prone to costly health issues. If the breed you have your heart set on has a propensity for health issues, make sure you plan ahead. Save money each month in an emergency fund or get a pet insurance policy. These policies are inexpensive and readily available. Check with your insurance provider…USAA has a plan!
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, adoption is a great, budget-friendly option. Many shelters and rescue organizations offer free or low-cost adoptions, plus spay/neutering and micro-chipping services at reduced costs.
You might also consider adopting an adult dog. Many adult dogs are already fixed, have all the vaccines younger animals require, and are house-trained.
Don’t forget to consider your military lifestyle when selecting a pet. Long hours away from home, frequent TDYs, pending PCSs and on-post housing restrictions should play a role in the breed, size and age of any animal you decide to add to your family.
Winner, Winner, Fido’s Dinner: Military Savings on Food for Your Pet
Dogs, cats, birds, fish, rabbits, lizards…they all have to eat. But feeding your pet doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Almost every major pet food manufacturer offers a coupon. You can find them on Coupons.com or by using the Commissary Rewards Card app. It only takes a few minutes to print them or sign up for a mailer, so spend the time and save the money. And don’t miss great deals and contests brought to you by Purina! Purina has great savings for all of your pet food needs and sponsors a new contest for a $50 Commissary gift card hosted by MilitaryShoppers.com every month.
Pet owners can maximize their military savings by shopping at the commissary and buying dog food in bulk at the case lot sales. I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of pet food offered at the commissary. The commissary even has refrigerated organics! Be sure to check the pricing. Sometimes buying multiple smaller bags and boxes is less expensive per ounce than the big bags.
Military Savings on Medicine and Vet Visits
Regular check-ups are essential and ensure any potential issues are found early. Save by using on-post veterinary services when possible.
If no services are available at your military installation, reach out to local shelters or animal control services. They often offer discounted services for things like vaccinations, spay/neutering and emergency care. If neither of these are an option, research reviews of veterinary clinics in your area. Ask for a military discount or new client discount.
Military Savings on Grooming
Grooming is an essential part of pet health and it is something you can master at home. Clippers can be a bit expensive, but properly maintained, they pay for themselves after just a few uses.
And while not all animals enjoy bath time, the cost of shampoo or cleanser, a couple of towels, and some patience is infinitely cheaper than a trip to the groomer.
If you decide to use professional grooming services, don’t forget to shop around and read reviews. Watch the paper and weekly sales mailers for coupons. Ask for a military discount when visiting a professional groomer.
Military Savings on Toys and Accessories
While they love an occasional treat, our pets really love just spending time with us. Instead of buying toys, spend time with your pet, taking them for walks or do whatever rabbits and llamas do for fun.
For non-traditional pets, like lizards or snakes, save the money to invest in a good habitat or warming light so your pet is comfortable and safe.
For cats and dogs, consider making your own toys and scratch posts. There’s no shortage of how-to info online.
Military Savings on Pet Sitting
We hate to leave them, but sometimes it’s just not possible to take our pets everywhere we go. Instead of costly kenneling costs, consider trading pet sitting services with another pet-loving military family or hire a teenage neighbor to care for your pet while you are away.
Be sure to explain specific rules and expectations and let your caretaker know about any allergies or mischievous tendencies.