Everyone loves their pets, especially with many people adding a furry family member during the pandemic.
But unfortunately, "pet parenthood" keeps getting more expensive, even as other prices drop.
Stevie Miller loves her Australian shepherd, Jasper, but says food and other expenses are getting pricey.
"It's a little bit higher," she said, "but I am willing to pay a bit more for the good quality food."
Other families, though, are finding their pets are putting a big strain on their budgets.
Daryl Meyerrenke owns a pet supply store, the Family Pet Center, and hears weekly from families struggling to afford 50-dollar bags of food.
But he says beware of cheap food, which can be mostly filler. It's less healthy for your dog, and it will take more to fill them up.
"You can buy the cheapest food out there," he said, "but your dog may consume 50 percent more of it."
Meyerrenke says many people look at the price of a large bag of dog food these days and get a case of sticker shock.
They then purchase a smaller bag.
But he says you need to focus on the price per serving, and in that case, a larger bag makes much more sense.
If you keep a big bag sealed, it will last a long time. "It’s got a shelf life of a year," he said.
Most families report higher pet care prices
A survey by the pet care site Rover finds that 90 percent of pet parents are seeing a rise in costs this year.
While prices this fall are dropping for electronics, clothing, and toys, pet products are up 12.6 percent year-over-year, more than the Consumer Price Index.
Still, when it comes to spending, pet owners view their animals as family.
Rover trend expert Kate Jaffe says in the survey, "98 percent of them told us that their dog has provided them comfort during these difficult economic times."
She says pet owners looking to save should try a discount retailer instead of big-box pet chains or grocery stores.
"That way, they can also get some savings on those everyday essentials like toys or treats," she said.
Meyerrenke, meantime, suggests you talk to a manager at your favorite pet shop and ask about loyalty discounts or discounts for buying in bulk from them.
If you absolutely cannot afford pet food, such as after a job loss or family emergency, check with local shelters and veterinarian offices that may be able to put you in touch with a pet food bank.
The Humane Society has a list of programs that may help you find free or reduced-price pet food.
And if you're considering adding another pet to the family, Kate Jeffe says know the upfront costs, which include purchase/adoption fees, vaccinations, and spaying or neutering.
- A dog can cost $900 to nearly $4,500, depending on the breed.
- A cat can cost $700 to $3,000.
Stevie Miller watches expenses but refuses to go cheap regarding Jasper's food and care.
"It's something I'm willing to pay more for," she said.
So talk with your pet shop and veterinarian, check out big box stores and don't forget to comparison shop online.
That way, you don’t waste your money.
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