How can I afford a pet?

With the rising cost of living, the term “household budget” has taken on a whole new meaning. The price of housing, gas, food, and – yes – even our pet supplies have all gone up. The price tags on items we typically paid little attention to, are now a big factor in our monthly spending. And for those people who either currently have a pet or are considering pet guardianship, it often leaves them asking: How can I afford this?

The trend of increasing financial and housing insecurity has led to a national rise in pet surrenders and – hence – shelters across the country are facing an overcrowding crisis at their facilities. Financial hardship is the number one reason thousands of families make the difficult decision to surrender or rehome their pets.

Financial hardship is the number one reason thousands of families make the difficult decision to surrender or rehome their pets.

5 Ways To Cut Costs

While having a pet does require a certain level of financial commitment, it doesn’t have to be a financial hardship, especially if you plan ahead and understand what resources are available. While there are many costs involved with pet guardianship, the following are five major expenses every current and soon-to-be pet owner should budget for, as well as some resources so you don’t have to break the bank.

1. Adopt from a Local Rescue or Shelter

Thinking about adding a furry friend to your family? Adopt from a high quality, shelter or adoption center like the SPCA of Northern Nevada (SPCA-NN). At the SPCA of Northern Nevada, many of the initial expenses associated with pet guardianship are included in the adoption fee such as microchipping, vaccinations, spay/neuter, and even some upfront medical and prescription costs. Plus, if you adopt a senior or special needs pet, many times these pets are fee-waived, which means you get an incredible pet with all the same inclusions as the other pets at the adoption center!

2. Initial Expenses

Starting from scratch can be a huge expense in the beginning if you aren’t strategic about where you shop. And little things add up: a leash, a collar, feeding and water bowls, a litter box, a pet bed, etc. To save on these items, visit the SPCA of Northern Nevada Thrift Store. At our thrift store, we have an entire section with brand new pet supplies at a fraction of the cost. We receive hundreds of donations each month from our community and retail partners throughout the region. These gently used and new  items are then sold to our customers at incredibly discounted prices. It’s a win-win! You get a great deal, and all the proceeds go directly back to saving and improving the lives of homeless pets.

3. Veterinarian Bills

Here are several things you can do to minimize the impact of veterinarian costs. First, routine vet visits will always save you money in the long run! It is in the best interest of your pet and your wallet to have your animal seen annually for routine check ups. Prevention is key! 

SPCA-NN offers affordable vaccine clinics to our community on a weekly basis thanks to discounts we receive as a nonprofit . You’ll also find that many vets throughout the region – especially local VCA Hospitals – offer affordable monthly payment options such as the CareClub, which is an interest-free monthly membership plan that covers everything from vaccines to dental work to emergency and routine visits! 

Emergency and unexpected veterinary costs can be devastating, and are often the reason guardians are forced to make life or death decisions about their beloved pets. It doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be that way! An injury may cost thousands of dollars, which for some families means they must opt for euthanasia because they simply can’t afford the alternative. Such a decision is heartbreaking for the pet guardians and for the treating vet med team. Qualifying pet guardians  can apply for financial assistance through Todd’s Medical Fund, which helps alleviate hardships associated with unexpected vet costs. Please visit our website for qualification details: .

Pet insurance through companies like Healthy Paws and Companion Protect are an important option  to ensure that when (not if) those unforeseen pet emergencies arise, you have the financial backing to cover the costs.

4. Cost of Food

This is a must. A dog’s gotta eat, right?! Pet food is a big ongoing expense. But if you’re on a tight budget, there are ways to cut the costs. Look around pet supply websites such as and; they often have daily deals and sales with big discounts on a variety of pet food and products. Online pet stores will usually offer discounts for spending a certain minimum amount, or even just for signing up for their email list! 

And if you are struggling to feed your pet, there are resources available! Call the SPCA of Northern Nevada’s Help Desk at 775-324-7773 Ext. 200 for questions related to pet food insecurity, and we will point you in the right direction! Food banks and charitable pantries are also a good resource as they often receive and offer pet food donations for families.

5. Grooming

Whether long hair or short hair, your dog will need a bath regularly. One way to cut the cost is to DIY! Locations such as Tractor Supply and Pet Station offer self serve dog washing stations for $10 that include everything you need to keep your furry friend squeaky clean. Long haired cats will also need daily at-home grooming and some require occasional professional grooming to prevent mats from forming. A good grooming brush will go a long way towards reducing professional grooming needs. And if you have a pet who needs routine professional grooming to keep healthy (as many breeds do), be sure to research local options.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is this: if you’re considering adopting a new friend, don’t let potential costs keep you from opening your home to an animal who needs a loving family. And if you find yourself in a situation where you feel you must surrender your pet due to financial hardship, you can always call our Help Desk: (775) 324-7773, 200. Our team will do what we can to help you find the resources to keep your beloved pet. Budgeting for a pet is easier and more affordable than it may seem. If you’re ready to experience the gift of pet guardianship, then you can view our adoptable pets here: .

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