Thursday, September 27, 2012

Saving Money Without Compromising Quality Care

Special thanks to Amber for contributing this blog post!
The cost of adding a pet to the family can seem daunting. Below are some tips we here at 4 Lil Pigs n Buns have found to help with the cost of keeping our furry pets - and our wallets - happy. 

For very small critters such as hamsters, gerbils, mice or rats, you can commonly find an abundance of very well priced cages on Craigslist. If you can’t find one you like, try asking friends and family. I have found most of my family (especially those with children) have an old cage or two in the garage or shed. Homemade cages can also give tons of room while being quite easy and cheap to make.
For guinea pigs or bunnies, ask around with your friends whose puppies have grown up. They may just have an extra exercise pen or two hanging around.
If you wan to go the C&C cage route, I have found lots of the cubes for sale at yard sales and on the internet right as school is letting out for the summer and college kids no longer need them. The coroplast can usually be obtained for free after any election. Just ask around with your neighbors with yard signs to see if you can take them off their hands. The parties may also have extra signs they are looking to get rid of.
Animal carriers are far too overpriced! A tall plastic storage bin without the lid usually works just as well, but if you have a high jumper, or would just like a commercial carrier, they can usually be found very cheaply at thrift stores, yard sales or even on the side of the road for free.  

This carrier cost me $5.26 at the thrift store. A pet store would charge you at least triple that!

Cage Necessities:
Food and water bowls need to be of good quality. If you buy one that is plastic or too light weight, it will cause big problems when your pet decides to play by flinging it, or accidently tips it over, making a huge mess. But heavy duty bowls at pet store are pricey and most are themed for dogs and cats. A great solution is to stop into your local thrift store and check out the selection. All bowls I have bought from Goodwill have been under $3. The best part is I can always find a wide variety to match my décor.
Veggie bowls bought at Goodwill for just over $1 each  
XL brown bowl bought at Goodwill for $3
 I also scour outlet stores. Most have an even further discounted section where they have pieces to sets that have no match. The discount sections of your favorite big stores such as Target are a great place to look as well. They usually have various holiday themed bowls and small rugs at great prices, especially after that season is over.
Litter pans can get pricey. A nice, large box at a pet shop can make you do a double take. If you have an old plastic bottom cage, it would make a fantastic large litter box. If not, a large plastic storage bin with a low lip can be used. If you have a larger big laying around you want to use instead, a simple circle cut in the side makes it a great litter pan that keeps the mess in and the cage nice and neat.
Litter can be purchased in bulk. Just ask for compressed wood bedding for horse stalls at any farm supply store.

This 40lb bag cost me the same amount as a 7lb bag at the pet store!
Looking to get a hay rack? A bent grid works great and you probably already have one laying around! Old cardboard boxes also work great.

The one thing you never, ever want to skimp on is quality food. Places like Walmart or Publix just don’t have quality pellets. It may cost a little more, but it is worth it for the health and happiness of your pet.
Hay can be bought in bulk by the bale or half bale at most farm supply stores. Remember to ask to see the hay first to be sure it is good quality. If you prefer buying your hay online, sign up for a few company’s newsletters or ‘like’ them on Facebook so you can keep up to date on their sales.
The price of veggies can really add up. To save major bucks, look into your local farmer’s markets and produce stands, remember to haggle if you are buying large amounts! You can also sign up for services where veggies will be delivered to you on a schedule for a set price (though with this option you usually will not know what you will be getting).

Our small fuzzies tend to be rough on their toys, and most don’t last past a week. So why pay a fortune for something that will be gone in the blink of an eye? Simple things like toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes and old wrapping paper/newspaper are all free and enjoyed just as much as those high priced toys!
Another great source of free play things are old children’s toys. If you don’t have any, ask any friend or relative with small kids. They will probably be happy to get rid of them! Stuffed animals, plastic baby toys, tents, tunnels and play mats are all great items that make a leap from baby toy to critter toy.

All of the toys and such here, including the pen, were from friends with children who grew out of them.
Blankets and towels can usually be picked up for free as well. Usually something as simple as making a post about it on Facebook will get you all you need and more!
Want a cute little cat toy ball or small fleece blankie? Pick some up at your local Dollar Tree for just a buck!

Vet care:
Have multiple pets? Ask your vet if you can bring them all in at once and only get charged one office visit fee. If you are looking for basic services like vaccines or getting your pet fixed, check out your local low cost or not for profit clinic. 

Let us not forget the biggest cost saver of adding a new furry friend: Adoption! Spays and neuters, health exams and vaccines will have already been preformed, saving you tons of cash. 

If you are looking to save even more, check out 4 Lil Pigs n Buns’ reduced adoptions fees through the end of September!

Come join us this Saturday, September 29th, from 10am to 1pm at the Brandon Petco!  If you are pre-approved to adopt, you can come meet your possible furry forever friend!  This is the LAST weekend for our reduced adoption rates!   And anyone can come by to ask us questions about bunny, guinea pig, or small furry critter care and meet the animals.  We hope to see you there, and donations are ALWAYS appreciated!  We especially need donations of hay right now.  Thank you!

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