Pets change our lives for the better, and not just because they’re fuzzy, tail wagging bundles of unconditional love. They teach us to be kind and make us care about something other than ourselves.

That being said, basic pet ownership is expensive when you factor in food, veterinary care, medication, and grooming. That doesn't even include the price of giving them the best treats, toys, and care. (With all the love they give us, it's only natural that we want to give back as much as we can).

Some prospective owners worry that a pet will cost too much. Those who already own a pet may find their animal companion is eating up too much of their budget. If you fall into either of these categories, don't despair. Use the following eight tips to save money caring for your pet.  

1. Buy in Bulk

Like everything else, pet food and supplies can be expensive if you buy them in small quantities. You can save money by purchasing items with a long shelf life or that won't expire in bulk. These items include puppy pee training pads, bully sticks, poop bags, cat litter, cat toys, canned food, dry food, and bedding for fish and small animals.

Certain dry foods can last quite a long time and might even be okay to freeze. When you're buying food in bulk, make sure to check with the store or the manufacturer to see how long the dry food is safe and whether it can be frozen. Buying in bulk online is also a great option; there are plenty of bulk stores specializing in raw food, recycled toys eco-friendly supplies, grooming, and even professional training supplies.

If you're already signed up for a warehouse club for humans like Sam's Club and Costco, then you're already set to take advantage of bulk pricing for certain pet supplies.  

2. Repurpose

Border collie playing with a tennis ball
There are many expensive pets toys marketed and sold every year, but money spent on these items is mostly wasted

There are many expensive pets toys marketed and sold every year, but money spent on these items is mostly wasted. Old, worn-out items can be reused as toys that will amuse pets for long periods. An old sock dangled tantalizingly in front of your feline might provide both of you with hours of entertainment. Worn-out tennis balls are as good for playing fetch with your dog as any store-bought ball. Play tug-of-war with your dog using an old rope or a bunch of t-shirts knotted together. Cost means nothing to your pet — so don't waste money on needlessly expensive toys.  

3. Feed your Pet Leftovers

Pug eating food at table being fed by boy owner
Africa Studio/Shutterstock
If you still have food left after eating, give it to your pet instead of throwing it away

This suggestion might be a bit controversial, so let's start out by setting some ground rules: don't feed your pet cooked bones, garlic, or onion; too much fat, salt, and spices; or raw vegetable peels, grapes, and apple cores. If you're unsure what human foods are safe for your pet, then please ask your veterinarian! Also, keep in mind that dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters (etc.) all have different dietary needs and things that they can and can't eat safely.

Now that you've been warned...

There are actually many human foods that your pet can eat safely. Small nibblers are very happy to eat raw veggies and some fruits, for example. And keep in mind that before the big business of pet food was invented, pets ate our leftovers, and they lived long, healthy lives doing it.

Just remember: when feeding leftovers, go slow. Don't feed too many new things at once, because if something upsets your pet's stomach, you won't know what did it. My dog has eaten leftover cooked meat, veggies, rice, potatoes, and beans, all with absolutely no issues. At the same time, I know a certain Beagle that turns the house into a slasher flick if she eats a tiny bit of tomato. Cats, although also carnivores, have very different dietary needs than dogs.

In short, when feeding leftovers, mind your vet's advice and your pet's unique digestion. Otherwise, feeding leftovers is a fantastic money saver that will add some variety to your pet's diet.

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