Dog Lifestyle, Pet Health, Pets and Family

10 Ways to Reduce Pet Care Costs Amid Record Inflation

The Best Friends Animal Society focuses its efforts on keeping pets out of shelters. Affordable pet care supports that effort and in line with that effort the Best Friends Animal Society has shared these top tips for reducing pet care costs amid record inflation.

Woman in a white shirt with red plaid pants holding a white and brown dog in her lap that she is brushing.

Inflation and Pet Care Issues

Across America people are feeling the pinch as record-high inflation affects all aspects of our lives, including our ability to care for our pets. According to the research firm NielsenIQ, pet food was roughly 12% more expensive at the start of 2022 compared to early 2020.

Leaders in animal welfare, like Best Friends Animal Society, are concerned that this year, the combination of inflation, the economy and housing issues could cause more pet owners to give up or consider giving up their furry friends. According to national data, shelter intake was trending up in 2021 coming out of the pandemic — a trend that has continued into 2022.

From an analysis of dog statistical data from 2018 to 2020, Best Friends found that more than 7% of animals were turned into animal shelters for financial hardship reasons, and housing accounted for nearly twice as many surrenders, at nearly 14%.

10 Ways to Reduce Pet Care Costs

Best Friends Animal Society, a leading animal welfare organization working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters by 2025, has shared the following tips to help pet owners save money on pet care, and keep pets at home and out of shelters when owners are facing a financial difficulty: 

Reduce Pet Care Cost With Subscription Services

By participating in subscription services for necessary pet supplies pet parents can reduce pet supply costs. Pet essentials and basic supplies like pet food and cat litter are available from many online retailers of pet supplies whom offer subscribe and save or auto ship programs. These programs offer a generous discount for the first order, and an ongoing discount after that for basic pet supplies for your furry friend.

Reduce Pet Care Costs with Coupons and Discount Codes

Watch for sales or discount codes, and if you can, stock up when things are on sale. Sign up for text and email alerts to make sure you don’t miss out on any discounts.

A yellow lab dog sniffing a bowl of food in a stainless steel bowl.
A dog may not like a particular food and their owner will sell for cheap.

Chewy has an email sign up where you can sign up and receive offers and coupons on a regular basis. Groupon also has a pet coupon page that lists pet deals and codes to use for your next purchase available here.

Amazon has a special pet coupon section that will reduce the average cost of pet supplies find it here. Shopping online makes it easy to find the best deals on pet products for your beloved pets.

Beyond saving money on purchases, watch the Nextdoor app or social media marketplace and “buy nothing” groups to pick up gifted pet supplies. Sometimes people try a new brand or flavor of food, or a new scent of cat litter, and either the pet or the person rejects it. Many of those items are given away free or sold very cheap, and pet owners can pick those up.

Reduce Pet Care Costs By Saving on Vaccines

Vaccines can be a very costly in addition to regular vet bills and a great expense to dog owners but at the same time necessary for your pet’s health. Animal shelters often have shot clinics at very discounted costs, so follow your local shelters on social media, or call them to find out if they have a clinic planned to save on vet fees. The first year of your pet’s life they will require a lot of vaccines that are available at clinics.

If you live near a Tractor Supply, know also that they recently added a Pet Vet Clinic to their service offerings. The Tractor Supply Pet Vet Clinic is a welcome place to get affordable vaccine and pet care to reduce overall veterinary bills for your furry family member and find the best deal on many other pet supplies.

Reduce Pet Care Costs By Saving on the Cost to Spay and Neuter

Spaying and neutering is so important for our pets (see our article on Ten Facts About Spaying and Neutering Your Pet: Celebrate Month in February With the Popular Pets by Raising Awareness of the Need to Your Pets) but at the same time can be incredibly expensive and a veterinary visit that pet owners tend to avoid due to the high cost.

High volume spay/neuter clinics and clinics affiliated with animal shelters offer very discounted spay/neuter surgeries. Call around to those types of clinics and book an appointment sooner rather than later, because many are booked out weeks or months. Many of these clinics also offer vaccines and sometimes dentals.

We know that spaying and neutering can be a significant strain on the budget and compiled a list of low cost spay and neuter clinics check out our listing of Cost to Spay and Neuter Your Dog or Cat Plus the Ultimate List of Low Cost Clinics Near You here.

See also our services page to learn more about vet resources near you with pet televet options that may provide a savings.

Reduce Pet Care Costs by Saving on Emergency Pet Medical Care

Pet emergency medical care can be expensive, however, if your animal needs a medical procedure that you can’t afford, there are organizations that may be able to help.  One of those is Best Friends Animal Society.

In addition, pet health insurance prior to an emergency may prove to be cost effective. While pet insurance is an additional monthly payment there are many vet costs that will be covered including emergency services that in the long run will be more cost effective if you start it early in your dog’s life. See our Pet Insurance Guide here.

Reduce Pet Care Costs With Shelter Emergency Assistance

Small white dog in a pet food pantry with two people behind the pet selecting pet products.
Many shelters have pet food pantries

Many shelters provide residents with emergency assistance to help them avoid giving up their pets due to a temporary financial crisis. Many more of these donation-based pantries have been established since the start of the pandemic, and they are grateful to receive donations from individuals and stores to sustain their programs. In addition, it’s worth checking human food pantries which often have supplies of pet food available as well.

Sometimes a bag of pet food is all it takes to make the difference between keeping a dog or cat at home, or someone having to make the agonizing decision to relinquish their pet to a shelter. This small bit of financial assistance can mean that a dog gets to stay at home.

For example, Best Friends Lifesaving Center in Salt Lake City runs a pet food pantry which offers support to local pet owners who are struggling financially, including a meals-on-wheels type program to distribute food, litter, toys, kennels, and other supplies to people’s homes. Since March of 2020, Best Friends Pet Food Pantry in Salt Lake City has distributed more than 204,400 lbs. of dry pet food and nearly 77,700 cans of dog and cat food to residents in need.

Reduce Pet Care Costs With DIY Pet Services

Short haired dog on a grooming table with his hair being trimmed with scissors by a person.
Dog hair grooming and trimming is a great DIY pet care opportunity

Many services that we normally have performed from service providers such as vet’s, pet massagers, and dog groomers may be able to be done at home. Obviously your pet’s health is number one but it may be fun to learn some new ways to look after your pet.

Sites like Udemy are great tools to learn how to do things yourself. For instance, if you have an older pet struggling with pain Udemy has this course on learning how to give your pet acupressure. Find many more from grooming to training and caring for your pet’s teeth and dental care.

Resources for DIY Pet Care

5 Senior Dog Care Tips Your Senior Dog Wishes You Knew

Guide to Caring for Your Senior Dog’s Teeth

Reduce Pet Care Costs with a Healthy Diet

Small brindle bulldog with a white handkerchief and glasses at the table with a sausage on a plate.

Preventive care is a great way to reduce pet care costs and one of the most effective preventive care methods is a healthy diet. It may seem like you are saving when buying less expensive dog foods but a reasonably prices healthy dog food can result in significant long term savings.

Your pet’s diet is connected to your pet’s overall health and with less expensive foods you may see more health issues including increased inflammation, skin and kidney issues.

To fend off the high price of food you may consider missing or substituting a balanced homemade food see our article on Homemade versus Conventional Dog Food and the best ways to cook sweet potatoes for dogs.

Reduce Pet Care Costs with Pet Retention Programs

Shelters often offer resources to help a person keep their pet in the home if they’re facing a crisis and considering surrendering it. Programs vary, but many rescue organizations offer help with medical care, behavioral resources, temporary fostering, pet care supplies such as food, litter, leashes, collars, and bedding, lists of pet-friendly housing, and may even help with installing or repairing fencing.

It is in all pet lovers interests to help pet families stay together and it reduces the stress on shelters and is the best way to keep pet families together.

Reduce Pet Care Costs by Adopting vs. Buying a Pet  

When looking to acquire a pet, you can save money by adopting from a shelter or rescue organization, rather than buying from a breeder, pet store or online retailer. Whatever it is you’re looking for, adopting is a great way to go to conserve funds and ensure that you have enough later to spend on long term care and health of your pet.

Some prospective pet owners may shy away from shelters due to the unpredictability and lack of purebred options but you do not have to. Shelters and specific breed rescues receive many purebred dogs and designer mixed breeds like “doodles” if that is what your family is set on.

Pets for adoption from shelters and rescue groups are usually already spayed or neutered, vaccinated and often microchipped. Those services can cost hundreds of dollars, so when you adopt a pet, you not only save a life, you save a lot of money, which leaves more in your budget for future pet care.

Additionally, few people will argue that adopted animals reward their people with a depth of unconditional love that pets from other sources don’t seem to rival. They seem to know they were given a second chance, and they spend their lives repaying their families.

Other Ways to Manage Pet Care Costs

While it is great to reduce pet care costs as a strategy as with many other costs some costs are unavoidable and simple managing pet care costs differently may provide some reprieve.

Manage Pet Care Costs with Payment Plans and Arrangements

Many pet service providers understand the state of the economy and also understand the needs of pet services for your pet’s health. If your dog needs consistent health services for a disease such as heart disease or cancer treatment your vet may be able to arrange for a monthly payment plan for your beloved pet medical expenses. Significant pet care costs for your beloved pet can be startling but more and more veterinary practices are understand the realities of the high cost of pet care with wellness plans and other payment arrangements to help dog and cat owners.


During this time of unprecedented inflation there are ways to cut costs and ensure that your pet stays with your family for the long term so that your family can enjoy the love and comfort from a pet and all of the mental health benefits of pet ownership.

Find more dog advice and fun stories in our popular book called Motherpuppin’ Adorable: What to do when your dog is better than everyone else’s the perfect companion for navigating the best life with your dog. Learn more about this loved book.

Pet Care Cost FAQs

How much does it cost to take care of a dog in a month?

The cost it takes to take care of a dog in a month varies greatly on the age, quality of food and health care and type of the dog and whether or not you procure pet insurance since vet costs are rising. For basic food needs it ranges from $55-$80, vet care for simple annual visits are at least $400 annually and grooming and other wellness care will go beyond that.

What are the biggest costs or expenses of owning a dog?

The biggest costs and expenses of owning a pet are the initial dog purchase or adoption, vet visits which could cost between $700-$1,500 a year, depending on your dog and where you live, excluding emergencies or medications your vet may prescribe. Food which is another variable expense since if you do get a quality subscription food, make homemade food or by lower quality kibbles the costs of food can range dramatically. Grooming is another large cost but is breed dependent. I groom my own pets at home but larger longer haired dogs can even do to a DIY pet wash with a dryer. another cost that should not be overlooked is pet sitting or daycare. If you need such services it can be almost as much as sending your child to private kindergarten.

Is owning a pet worth it?

From our perspective as a household full of pets and now four dogs we would have to provide an emphatic yes. The upfront costs may seem like a lot to own a pet but the benefits of owning a pet are now also scientifically proven as pet ownership has shown to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, make us happier and improve mental health.