Evelyn Romans | 

How I Saved $1,138 on My Dog's First Year!

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Thinking of adding a furry friend to the family? According to the ASPCA, the first year of owning a dog can add up to as much as $1,843! Here’s a look at how I was able to cut the cost of my dog’s first year by over 60%!


1. Adopt from a shelter to save hundreds on microchipping and vaccinations.


When you adopt from a shelter, you’re not only saving money, you’re saving a life and giving back to the organization, helping other dogs in need. When I adopted my dog from a local shelter, I saved hundreds right away because I didn’t have to worry about spaying, microchipping, or vaccinating him—the shelter did it all free!

Microchipping a dog will cost you around $50, while the first round of vaccinations is about $70. The average charge of a neuter/spay procedure is $220. When you adopt from a shelter, those fees are already taken care of!

Total savings: $340

2. Get over $270 in coupons with a PetSmart Puppy Starter Kit.

If your newest addition is just a pup, consider the PetSmart Puppy Starter Kit for huge savings. I paid $20 and got over $270 in coupons including a $15 dog food coupon, puppy bath, Banfield veterinary exam, doggie day camp visit and much more.

Total savings: $270

3. Attend a vaccination clinic and keep your pet’s shots up to date without the vet exam fees.


Stores like Petco offer vaccination clinics at certain times each month. All I had to do was call my local store for information on dates and times.

The average annual recurring medical costs (vaccinations) for a large dog are around $260. Depending on what vaccination package you select from a Petco clinic, you’ll spend up to $81 for a basic package (healthy dog/puppy pack + rabies).

Total Savings: $180

4. Get your puppy’s nails trimmed for free at PetSmart.


The thought of clipping my new puppy’s nails used to intimidate me, but I recently took him to PetSmart’s grooming center, and they did it for me for free. As long as your puppy is around 8-10 weeks old, PetSmart will trim them for free and will give you great advice for doing it yourself at home.

Total savings: A complete meltdown and lots of tears from accidentally clipping too much off.

Related: How to Make Dry Dog Shampoo

5. Find better patterns and prices for beds at Ross, T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s.


Fact: dog beds are insanely expensive at pet stores. Take an alternate route and purchase the same quality bed at a store like T.J.Maxx or Marshall’s for a fraction of the cost. I find that the patterns at these stores are even better than what you might find at the pet store, too!

This black Greek key dog bed pictured above (bottom right) is only $19.99 at T.J.Maxx. A bed with a similar pattern and size is $109.99 at PetSmart.

Total savings: $90

6. Don’t buy the bleached bones from pet stores—ask a butcher.


Instead of spending a small fortune on a single bone at the pet store, ask a local butcher for bones. I find that they’re often very cheap and are better for my pet than the bleached bones you find at pet stores. Make sure to give your dog the bone outside, though—they can get pretty messy!

One Dentley’s Nature’s Chew stuffed bone (9.3 oz) is $10.99 at PetSmart. My local butcher sells bags of bones at $3.98 per pound. Treating your pup to two of the PetSmart bones per month sets you back $263.76 in a year. Buying a 1lb bag of bones per month from my butcher costs me only $47.76 annually.

Total savings: $216

7. Buy subscription services like BarkBox through Groupon.


If you want to spoil your dog with a BarkBox subscription but don’t want to pay up to $29 per month, purchase your subscription through Groupon.

A three-month subscription purchased directly from BarkBox.com is $72. Groupon.com sells BarkBox subscriptions at a discount of as much as 28% off. Stack those savings when a 20% off “goods” coupon rolls around, and purchase a six-month subscription for $44.80!

Total Savings: $27.20

8. Buy puppy leashes and collars at the dollar store.


Puppies grow super fast in the first year. Instead of spending too much on a collar they’ll grow out of in a few weeks or months, consider purchasing small collars from the dollar store. When your puppy is fully grown, you can spend a little extra to get a quality collar that will last years. Same goes for leashes.

A small nylon adjustable snap collar is $7.49 at Petco, and a simple nylon leash is $9.74. The same combo at the dollar store? Only $2.00!

Total savings: $15.23


The figures above are based on the average pet care costs of a large dog according to the ASPCA.


Related: Get Your Groupon On: 10 Tips to Ensure a Successful Groupon Purchase

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