6 Low-Cost Ways to Make Your Pet Feel Like Royalty

Spoil your pet—not your budget.

Pampering your pet comes at a cost. But can the royal treatment be given on a budget?  Absolutely.

It’s no secret that pet owners are notorious for overspending on their furry friends—splurging on puppy portraits, feline mansions (aka super cool cat trees), and lux accessories. In fact, the average pet owner spends US$126 on their pet each month—that’s over $1,500 a year!

But there’s no need to blow your budget spoiling your pet. We’ve got six expert-approved tips to keep your wallet happy, and your pet’s tail wagging.

1. Homemade treats 

Krystn Janisse, Content writer at Homes Alive Pets 

Pupcicles are a simple and quick frozen dog treat that is tasty and great for summer. Simply mix goat’s milk or bone broth with a dehydrated or canned food and freeze into ice cube trays. You can mix in small training treats, diced veggies, peanut butter, or even kibble to a refreshing, tasty snack.

For bigger dogs, you can freeze snacks into a giant ice cube. Fill a bowl or pale with water and toss in a handful of kibble or treats. Perfect for summer, this ice block will keep them busy while they lick and bite their way to the snacks that are frozen inside.

Baking your own dog cookies is easier than you think. You can use as few as two ingredients to make dog cookies, but you can also add in additional ingredients for flavor and nutrition. Start with a flour of your choosing (wheat, rice, coconut, etc.) and then mix in pureed fruits or vegetables. Baby food works, but be sure to check the ingredients to make sure that it’s not hiding unwanted ingredients. There are so many dog treat recipes, so try a new flavor or style each time to find what your dog flips for.

If you have a dehydrator or don’t have any need for your oven for the next 8-10 hours, then try dehydrating some meats or veggies. Sweet potatoes are a great one to try first. They leave a softer chewy texture that is very palatable.

2. DIY Toys

Jessica Char, Cat behavior consultant and owner of Feline Engineering

Feeding your cat with food puzzles is great for both their physical and mental health. Food puzzles encourage your cat to think and work to get their food. But there’s no need to spend money on this useful and important tool. Dry kibble can be put into cardboard paper towel rolls or plastic water bottles for your cat to roll and bat. Or it can be sprinkled into an empty egg carton or even a thick shag rug for your cat to hunt out. Hide wet food in an old coffee mug laid on its side to create an easy puzzle. Make puzzles very easy to start (with large holes and lots of food that falls out easily) to encourage your cat to play with them.

Krystn Janisse, Content writer for Homes Alive Pets

Repurpose old toys. Sometimes dogs get bored with toys, or they refuse to play with them from day one. The classic Kong toy, for example, is something that lives in the dog toy box of most pet households, and it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Revive that old toy by finding ways to make it fun again. Fill it with treats, attach a rope to it for a fun game of tug, freeze it, and even use it for scent detection games and hide-and-seek.

3. Prioritize health now to save money later

Stephanie Seger, President of Big Dog Mom

Prioritize your dog’s immune system through the feeding of a quality diet and natural supplements like probiotics. The investment in your dog’s immune system will pay dividends in lower healthcare costs in the future.

Lir Buk, Founder of Puppy Tip 

If you think you can’t afford pet insurance, consider starting your own pet emergency fund. Some pet expenses, especially medical care, can get really (I mean really) expensive. In case your dog ever needs medical attention, having a savings plan in place can provide a financial cushion so you won’t get into credit card debt. You can also look into veterinary discount plans, which are often cheaper than pet insurance.

4. Train like a pro for the low 

Krystn Janisse, Content writer for Homes Alive Pets

Dog training services are expensive, and in some cases, necessary. I don’t generally recommend skimping on this service if you have a high-need dog, but for general training courses, connect with your local shelters and SCPA. They often have weekly training classes that help cover the basics of manners, walking, and socialization. They will be a cheaper option than a one-on-one trainer. It is essential to make sure the trainer is certified. Ask for the trainer’s credentials before you sign up. If they aren’t certified, then keep looking.

5. Buy quality, not quantity

Ben Team, Senior content editor for K9 of Mine

Buy toys that will last. Toys are a necessity for most dogs. They not only help fight boredom and provide pets with a bit of fun, but they can also help eliminate destructive behaviors and reduce stress. But some dogs are harder on their toys than others, and aggressive chewers can quickly rip run-of-the-mill toys to shreds. Do yourself a favor and spend an extra ten bucks or so on an “indestructible” dog toy that will outlast those in the budget bin. This will undoubtedly save money over the long run.

6. Give them attention—it’s free

Jessica Char, Cat behavior consultant and owner of Feline Engineering

Your cat doesn’t need a ton of stuff to be spoiled – they just need a little attention from you! Buy or make a simple toy with a stick, a string or wire, and a small toy on the end. Play with your cat by making the toy move like a mouse or a bird and encouraging your cat to hunt it. Make this play a twice-daily habit and your cat will be healthier and happier. Their behavior will likely be better too!

Jake, Content writer for Golden Hearts

Go to dog parks. They’re free and are great for allowing your dog to get her energy out. The flip side is giving her a toy to burn her energy, and if she’s not tired, she’ll do all she can to destroy it (and then you’ll need to buy some more).

Bottom line

Spoiling your furry friend doesn’t have to be expensive. With our six simple money-saving tips, you can make your pet happy—and your wallet, too.

Contributors

Alexandra FungLir Buk is the founder of Puppy Tip, a blog designed to inspire and help dog owners build a happier and healthier relationship with their canine pals.
Jessica Char is an experienced cat behavior consultant who provides personalized support for cat owners dealing with behavior problems through her business, Feline Engineering. She also shares ways to make your cat’s life happier and healthier through her blog at www.FelineEngineering.com and on Facebook. She lives in San Jose, CA, with her husband, bunny, and a rotation of foster animals.
Krystn Janisse is the content writer for Homesalive.ca and a pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in many facets of the pet industry for more than a decade and loves to share her passion for animal nutrition and welfare with others.  
Stephanie Seger is the award-winning blogger of BigDogMom.com and founder of the Dog Nailpro™ Method. She has decades of experience as a big dog owner, more than 30 years of which has been devoted to health, nutrition, and behavior of dogs. Backed by a BS in Microbiology, an MBA, and a passion for writing and big dogs, Big Dog Mom™ has a mission to empower, educate, and inspire large- and giant-breed dog owners through outstanding content, useful resources, and actionable information. Stephanie proudly shares her life with her husband, two children, and the inspiration for Big Dog Mom™, her two Mastiffs, Junior and Sulley.
Ben Team is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler, J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.
Jake Thomas is a writer, husband, and dog dad. He runs GoldenHearts.co, a blog for golden retriever parents, with his dog, Oliver.

How do you pamper your pet on a budget? Tell us on Twitter at @OppUniversity!