Published: March 4, 2019  

Last updated: March 4, 2021  

The cost of a new puppy or adopted rescue dog adds up to a lot of money very quick. Not only in adoption fees, but food, supplies and toys! It all adds up so quick. $10 here, $50 there, $100 for the vet… where does it stop?

My family makes fun of me because I can be a bit of a bargain hunter (aka frugal, aka cheap). What can I say, I like to save money. I take my time to research big purchases. Buy and sell on Craigslist. I don’t buy many impulse items, and if I do, it’s never anything expensive.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love to spoil my dogs. But I spoil them with love and smart decisions on their health!

When to Spay or Neuter Your Dog

1. Start with a new puppy shopping list

If you have just adopted a new puppy, your shopping list is long! With so much excitement, and so much to buy for that little fur ball it can get overwhelming quick. Start by downloading our first puppy shopping list to keep you on track with only the essentials.

My next tip… check out Craigslist and local thrift stores for a dog crate, baby gates and other supplies.

2. Dog Food Coupons and Subscriptions

Some of the big name dog food brands will offer coupons. But I do caution on what you feed your dog. Buying cheap dog food could end up costing you more in the long run, when your dog is unhealthy and becomes sick.

Chewy offers 30% off your first auto-ship order! And then 10% off additional orders.

  • Look for quality ingredients.
    Instead, I recommend finding a dog food that has quality ingredients. More money does not always equal better quality. Start reading ingredient labels and choose the best food you can afford in your budget.
  • Sign up for reward cards.
    If you buy your dog food at a local pet shop, find out if they have a rewards system. Most stores do, and could save you big $$$!
  • Online dog food delivery subscriptions.
    We started ordering our dog food online from a couple years ago. It’s the best decision we ever made! Not only is the cost of the food cheaper than our local store, but it saves me time, gas money, and extra money I would spend in store on unnecessary toys and impulse buys.
giving dog a bath helps dogs with allergies

3. Give Your Dog a Bath at Home

If you have a short hair dog, you will have less grooming to worry about. A simple brush now and then and an occasional bath will do.

A long hair dog may require daily brushes, trims, and monthly baths. Try doing all these things at home.

If you have a bath or shower in your home, you can bathe your dog yourself with ease. Not a fan of the bath? Training him to love the bath may be easier than you think.

You can also make DIY dog shampoo at home.

dog nail trimming

4. Learn How to Trim Nails

Nail trims can be scary. Somehow I got the nail trimming job in our house. We’ve got one dog, Bear, that doesn’t mind having his nails trimmed. And then we have Ginger, that goes into fear aggression at the sight on the nail clippers. We are currently working on desensitizing her to the nail trims.

Learning how to trim your dog’s nails is extremely important. Your dog’s nails should be trimmed at least once a month. Have your vet show you how, or head over to YouTube for a quick lesson.

I recommend these nail trimmers or a Dremel if your dog is not afraid of loud noises.

5. Don’t Miss Yearly Vet Exams

Keeping your pet healthy will save you money in the long run. With yearly vet exams, you can head off any serious illnesses before they get serious. Some diseases can be deadly if not treated properly.

6. Shop Around for Medications

Research to see if you can find your dogs medications online. now has a full pharmacy! Also check into your local Walgreens, Walmart, SamsClub or Costco. Price check each medication, to find the cheapest price. You may be surprised at the price difference!

7. Exercise to Stay Healthy

You may not realize this, but your dog’s health is directly tied to the amount of exercise you give him. Think about it all you did was sit around the house, play ball in the backyard once in a while… you’d get a little chubby, out of shape, right? Same goes for your dog.

Get out for daily walks. Your dog should come home and be tired. Keeping your dog healthy will save you on vet bills later!

Read more about how often I should walk my dog.

8. Buy Only Durable Toys

Dogs do not need a basket full of toys. Choose the toys you do buy wisely. Stay away from cheap stuff animals that your dog chews up in seconds… I’m laughing as I type this because our dog Bear will literally tear a new toy in shreds in less than 60 seconds. No joke!

Check out my list of durable dog toys for heavy destructive chewer.

9. DIY Toys

We started making our own tug toys a couple years ago and our dogs go crazy over them. These fleece tug toys are way better than the rope tugs you get in the store.

The fleece is washable and durable. We’ve bought a few of the rope toys and they shred and get stringy. I’m always afraid the dogs will choke on them.

Follow my DIY Dog Pinterest Board to see all these great ideas!

frozen dog treats blueberry coconut oil

10. DIY Treats

High-quality dog treats are really expensive. And stay far far away from the cheap color infused milk bones and junk food treats you see in the grocery store.

Making your own treats can be really easy. Make it fun with these bone and paw print molds! A few options include:

Read Adding Fresh Foods to Your Dogs Diet

11. Invest in a Quality Leash

My husband will always remind me that you get what you pay for. Buy the best quality you can afford. At first you may think buying the cheapest dog collar and leash will save you money. But I am here to tell you the best investment we’ve ever made was our leather dog leashes. We have two leather leashes that have lasted us over 25 years! And honestly, the price isn’t that expensive! Here are the leather leashes I recommend.

12. Take Care of Your Dogs Teeth

Your dog’s mouth hygiene is so important and so many people look right past it. We complain about our dog’s bad breath but yet we don’t think about brushing their teeth.

Dental cleanings at your vet’s office can be really expensive.

I’m going to be completely honest here…. I do NOT brush my dog’s teeth. I know, I will get some flake here. Do as I teach, not as I do? I can never seem to get into the habit of brushing their teeth. And brushing them once a month is not going to do any good. We should be brushing their teeth daily.

I found this Dental Care Water Additive, I’ve been using it for about a month now and seems to be really working great. I am keeping track of their progress with the plaque build-up and will be reporting back in a couple months.

How to train your dog in 3 minutes a day

13. Train Your Dog at Home

Dog training classes are not cheap. It can cost anywhere from $100 for a basic training class to $1,000’s for a behaviorist training program.

Training your dog at home is totally possible. But you need to be consistent and be aware you are always training. Your everyday actions are shaping your dog’s behavior.

Read 5 quick ways to train your dog in 3 minutes a day.

14. Care Credit

If you find yourself in a situation that your dog needs medical attention that you cannot afford, look into Care Credit.

We should never be faced with the choice of feeding your family or giving your dog the surgery he needs to survive. But it happens way too often. It’s not because we don’t love our pets, but we have to make some tough decisions.

Consider starting a savings account for your dog. Stocking away even $25 a month could pay off huge when you have a medical emergency. And if you are lucky and your dog stays healthy over the next 10+years, you have saved $3,000 for a rainy day of any kind.

Now it’s your turn, leave a comment below and share your tips on how to save money on your dog. It may seem obvious to you, but could help out someone else in our community!

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About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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