How to save money when caring for your dog

During these difficult times, caring for your dog may seem expensive, but there are many ways you can try to cut back on costs. Below are some useful tips that can help save you money without sacrificing the quality of care you give your dog.

Shop around for food or use discount sites

Paying for your dog's food can be costly, but there are many shops that offer discounts if you spend a little extra time to seek them out. Even small discounts can quickly add up over the months, leaving you with more money to spend on other areas of your life. Alternatively, you could look into cheaper brands of pet food to the one you’re currently using. If you’re switching to another brand of dog food, make sure that you introduce it to your dog’s diet slowly. Switching to a new food straight away may disagree with them and cause a stomach upset.

Your dog needs a diet that is appropriate to them. Many foods that we eat are not suitable for dogs because they’re too high in sugar, salt, fat or may contain ingredients that are poisonous to them (e.g. onions, chocolate, raisins, grapes etc.). It may be cheaper to feed dogs table scraps, but it can cause serious health problems that are expensive to treat.

Buy dog food in bulk

Another way you can save on your pet food is to buy it in bulk. It’s common for larger bags of pet food to be more cost-effective compared to smaller bags, resulting in more money saved over time.

Make your own treats

You can even make saving money more enjoyable by making your own dog treats rather than buying store-bought ones. You can often make dog treats with ingredients you already have in the kitchen, giving you a fun baking project while saving you money.

Find out about healthy treats you can give to your dog.

Food banks for dogs

If you are struggling to pay for your dog food, you could consider going to a food bank for dogs. You can check online to find the closest food bank to you. This will allow you to ensure your dog is kept adequately fed.

Keep them healthy (less vet visits)

The most common health problems in dogs are gum disease, ear infections, obesity and overgrown nails. There are many things that you can do to try to prevent these issues, including getting into a habit of caring for your dog’s teeth, ears and claws and managing their weight.

There are some very simple tips you can follow to keep you and your dog in good health and save valuable money on expensive vet fees. For example:

  • Making sure your dog gets plenty of exercise will keep you both fit and healthy and will save you money on gym membership
  • Shopping around for a good quality and balanced diet can also help them stay healthy
  • Regularly brushing your dog’s fur and teeth also helps to keep them in tip-top shape

Even though keeping your dog healthy can help keep your vet away, it is important to still have regular appointments with them to catch any issues as early as possible.

Make sure they are insured

Surprise costs are never a welcomed sight, but investing in pet insurance can considerably reduce the amount you have to pay. Having pet insurance involves you paying a small monthly fee in exchange for a policy that covers your pet for a variety of issues or treatments. This investment can really pay off if your pet were to suddenly fall ill and require treatment.

The Kennel Club offer a pet insurance. You can find out more about Kennel Club Pet Insurance here.

Using loyalty schemes:

Loyalty schemes may be another great tip to help you keep more money in your wallet. Many online shops offer loyalty schemes that allow you to accumulate points that contribute to discounts on your purchase. Small tips like this can eventually build up and you might even get an entire item for free. Speak with your vet or other specialist suppliers to see if they offer a loyalty scheme that includes any other benefits, like flee and worming treatment for example.

Buying second hand equipment:

Buying second-hand equipment is a great way to save money in any area of your life, and the same goes for dog goods. Used toys from a friend or family member will be much cheaper than buying new ones, and your dog won’t even notice a difference, but make sure they're washed before you give them to your dog. Try to find high-quality second-hand items, as these will last much longer and you won’t have to worry about them breaking and spending more money on a replacement. You can buy many second-hand items for your dogs, but useful suggestions include crates, beds, toys and collars. Charity shops can be good places to look for second-hand dog items as some have pet sections in their shops. Local online market places can also be a good place to look too. Be mindful of re-using children's toys as some items like teddy bears may contain buttons, beads and certain parts which can be dangerous to dogs. Always make sure you supervise your dogs when they are playing with toys.

Create DIY toys by repurposing items you already have in your house:

In addition to buying second-hand toys, you can also make your own toys for your pet out of items you can find in your home. Seasonal items such as dog pools can set you back a fair amount of money, despite only being needed for a few months. But if you have any children, you may have an old pool lying around. This can be repurposed into a dog pool and saves you spending money on a new one.

You could use large cardboard boxes, with the ends open, to form a tunnel. Or use some old egg boxes or muffin trays to place treats under for scenting games. Always ensure dog is supervised.

Find out more games you can play with your dog.


Look after your dog

Working full time and arranging for someone to look after your dog can be tough, especially when every penny counts. If you’re thinking of cutting back on your professional pet sitter then remember that they’re providing your dog with the company and mental stimulation that they need. It’s important that dogs are not left alone for a whole day at a time as it can lead to anxiety and stress. Instead, see if there’s a way for you to change your working hours, work from home more or try to visit your dog in an extended lunch break. Are family or friends able to help out? Even if it’s a change to only one or two days a week, every little saving can help.

Group training

Consider cost-effective training that is relevant to your dog. While a group setting may appear cheaper, it may not be the most appropriate choice for your dog or any issues they may have. Before joining a club, always talk to them about your dog’s needs and what you are looking to get from the training class. Experienced dog trainers may also be behavioural instructors and may have knowledge in dog behavioural problems. In addition, they may be able to train your dog on a one-to-one basis.

Online tips and information can be useful but check your sources. Online dog training is not a substitute for hands on guidance with an experienced dog trainer. 

Read our articles on how to train your dog or visit The Kennel Club Academy for courses on health and welfare

Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme Tests

If you're looking to take a Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme Tests award you may be able to do this without having to pay for a training course, by attending as a guest member. Clubs are allowed to accept guest members at their discretion. Alternatively, look out for Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme testing at some dog shows. You may be able to take them along as a spectator dog for a small fee.

Learn more about Kennel Club Accredited Instructors who can help you train your dog or consider taking part in the Good Citizen Dog Training Scheme.

Breed clubs and rescues

Breed clubs and rescues focus on the health and welfare of dogs. There are clubs for almost all breeds and they often offer some of the best advice and support for the breed they specialise in. As such, they may be able to offer you some insightful tips on how you can save money with your pet care.

Contact a breed rescue today.