Managing your pet budget can become even more complicated as your pet grows older. Their lifestyles and bodies change, their health can become more fragile, and you may need to adjust the way you take care of your beloved pet’s expenses. This may feel intimidating, but there are ways to keep things under budget without sacrificing your pet’s health or happiness.
When you got your pet, you probably shelled out some money to cover all the basic supplies. This may have felt like a big expense, but you would have reassured yourself that they were “one-time costs.” But as your pet grows older, you may need to replace and upgrade some of the supplies to accommodate their needs. For example, senior-friendly supplies for dogs could include an orthopedic bed, dog stairs, or non-slip socks to keep them safe.
Buying the cheapest generic brands may feel like the budget-conscious choice, but it could result in higher vet bills down the line. And pets are like humans: eating a healthy, high-quality diet only becomes more important as they grow older. In general, a switch to a diet designed for senior pets is the best option. We will have more on senior pet nutrition in another blog article later this month.
Older pets tend to need fewer calories and are healthiest when kept lean, which means that you should be controlling food portions carefully. This will have the double effect of saving you a bit of money, especially if you have a habit of being quite indulgent when filling the food bowl.
Of course, some pets can be underweight and will need to eat more calorie-dense meals (this will usually involve switching food, not increasing portions). Discuss any nutritional changes with your vet to make sure you are doing what’s best for the animal.
It’s recommended to save between $1,000 and $2,000 for an emergency vet bill, which is highly likely to happen within the pet’s lifetime. As your pet gets older, this sort of emergency (or prolonged illness) is only going to become more likely.
One solution to unexpected vet bills is to use a finance company such as Care Credit that is dedicated to helping people pay their medical bills over time. They even have some deferred interest programs that may allow you to avoid the finance charges.
Although it may not seem like it, the most budget-friendly option is to purchase pet insurance. You will have to pay monthly premiums but overall this will be a lot less money than the full cost of an emergency procedure. However, this is only a viable option if your pet is currently healthy, as most insurance will not cover a pre-existing condition. Purchasing insurance while your pet is still healthy is also likely to be cheaper — so the sooner, the better.
As you can see, the best ways to keep pet maintenance costs low as pets grow older tend to align with the best ways to keep them healthy and safe. This is because the biggest cost of owning a senior pet is always going to be healthcare, and anything that keeps them fit is reducing the likelihood of that scary vet bill.
You can keep the cost of your pet’s senior years under control, all the while making this time as happy and comfortable as you can for them. Put them into your budget and follow preventive care protocols designed to avoid the big expenses.