By Paige DiFiore, Credit.com
Most people will agree that pets are worth the cost, but a new member of the family doesn’t have to lead to a lot of debt. A lot of people treat their pets like children. Like kids, pets can be expensive. Feeding your pet is a necessary cost, so you might as well save on pet food when you can. These tips will help you save without compromising your favorite furry (or scaly or feathery) friend’s health.
1. Buy It Wholesale
Before investing in bulk food, first buy a smaller size to see if your pet enjoys it. Unlike picky kids, pets won’t eat their food when threatened with a time out.
2. Make It at Home
If you’ve got extra time, finding a few recipes can be a cost effective alternative to buying pet food. This also allows you to control what goes into your pet’s diet, which can potentially lead to a healthier pet — and fewer visits to the vet. Just be sure to do your research and avoid dangerous foods before becoming a chef for your pet.
3. Shop the Sales
While your favorite furry friend might only enjoy certain types of food, it doesn’t hurt to try more affordable alternatives. Keep an eye on weekly ads and savings at local grocery stores, wholesale stores and pet stores. You never know when your pet’s favorites could be on sale.
4. Properly Store Food
When not stored properly, food can go stale or be infiltrated by unwelcome bugs. Invest in storage that allows pet food bought in bulk to stay airtight and fresh without making a mess. Also remember to keep track of expiration dates when transferring food from its original packaging to large containers. Expired food can be dangerous for your pet.
5. Be Careful What You Feed Them
Before sliding leftovers under the table to Lucky, make sure it’s safe. Feeding your pet “people food” can be dangerous, which could mean having to buy medicine or specialty foods. A lot of foods you might think are safe for your pet might not be. It’s always best to check first.
6. Buy Specialty Food Only When Necessary
Don’t assume your pet requires a special type of food unless advised to do so by a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. Not only is this safer for your pet, but also it can help you save. Specialty foods can be pricey and may be a needless expense. If your pet does require specialty food, it’s probably best to invest in it — vet bills can be a lot pricier than food.
7. Follow Pet Food Brands on Social Media
You never know when they could share special discount codes or offers. Signing up for email lists for food brands and pet stores can also pay off. Most pet food brands and stores are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
8. Measure Food & Track Servings
It can be easy (and expensive) to overfeed your pets. At your next veterinarian visit, ask how much you should be feeding your pet. Serving size and proper portions are important for humans, so it’s no surprise they’re important for most pets. A food scale or measuring cup are both great tools when it comes to controlling portions and avoiding excessive feeding.
9. Name Brand Isn’t Always Best
Focus on the ingredients and nutritional value, not the name. Some foods are worth a little extra because of the nutritional value. Always check labels before choosing the cheaper option. More expensive doesn’t necessarily mean more nutritious. If your pet has dietary concerns, check with your vet before switching to a different, more affordable brand.
10. Join Rewards Programs
Pet food is a recurring cost that comes with owning a pet, and being loyal to one brand or store can pay off. Joining membership programs at stores like Petco and PetSmart can help you earn rewards and special offers. There are also certain credit cards with great rewards for pet owners. Before applying for these cards, it’s smart to ensure you qualify. You can check two of your scores free on Credit.com.
11. Try Before Buying
No more buying a lot of food your pet ends up not wanting to eat. There are plenty of websites that offer pet food samples. Plus, reaching out to certain pet food companies and asking for samples can’t hurt. They’ll often be happy to introduce you to their products. This is an especially good tip for picky pets.
12. Pet Food Subscription Services
These aren’t necessarily cost effective for everyone, but if you love doing your shopping online and don’t want to worry about running out of food, this is a great option. Places like Amazon and PetSmart offer subscription services, allowing you to control the frequency of delivery and what’s being delivered. By subscribing versus ordering, you generally receive a discount and free shipping.
Looking for more ways to save on your pet? Check out these 15 ways to save at PetSmart.
More from Credit.com
This article originally appeared on Credit.com.