Of all the things you will have to consider before buying a Labrador, its price, as well as the cost of keeping it, comes first. While you may be craving for a dog, the reality is you will need to spend a significant chunk of your wages if you are to keep your pooch healthy and happy. In this post, we explain a few things that will help you save money when buying your first Labrador retriever.
What’s the cost of having a Labrador?
Most people do not think about the cost of keeping Fido before they are drawn to the big puppy eyes of a Labrador. Apart from the food and vet bills, you will incur the cost of collars, leashes, toys, training, treats, and so on, which add up rather quickly.
For starters, ‘put to sleep’ is no longer an option for most dog ailments. Modern vets can perform a wide range of treatments and procedures on your ailing Lab. These may include surgeries, mending complex fractures, treating ailments such as cancer through chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and so on. Any procedure that can be performed on a human being can be carried out on your dog. The catch is that such will cost you. The most effective way of avoiding huge vet fees is taking up a veterinary insurance cover. Keep in mind that cheap veterinary policies might not cover you against long term ailments. Therefore, you might have to take up a comprehensive package despite its higher cost.
You will also have to incur the cost of pet supplies such as the pooch’s bedding, collar, a crate, feeding bowls, a leash, a playpen, toys, and training products, among others.
The price of a Labrador should not be your main concern. Rather, you need to be confident that you can afford it for the entire length of time you intend to have it.
How to save money when buying your Lab
The cost of buying your Lab can be downright prohibitive. So, how do you save money when it comes to the cost of your pet?
Get your Lab from a shelter
Compared to buying your pooch from a pet store or a breeder, adopting one makes good financial sense as the cost is way smaller. The adoption cost varies depending on the dog’s origin, and the costs that have so far been incurred as far as veterinary services and grooming are concerned.
Apart from the price of your pet, adopting one is beneficial for the following reasons:-
- You are giving the Lab a new lease of life – oftentimes, dogs in adoption shelters or rescues are from the streets, or they come from abusive homes. Also, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) estimates that around 1.5 million pets are euthanized every year. By choosing to adopt, you will not only be giving your pooch another chance at life, but you’ll also be helping in solving the problem of pet homelessness.
- You can get a pooch that meets your exact needs – most animal rescue centers and shelters examine and vaccinate the animals they receive. Also, most of them will neuter and spray your pooch before you take him home. The shelter will also have assessed the pet’s behavior and personality to match your needs.
- You can get a Lab of any age – while puppies are cute, it takes an awfully lot of time and effort to train them. They also need lots of extra time and care. In a shelter, you can get a Lab that’s already trained when it comes to following basic commands.
Get one from your friends or family
In this age of social networking, you are a click away from getting your Lab. All you need to do is put a word out there. The chances are that someone you know and trust has a puppy or even an adult Lab they’ll be willing to give you at a significantly lower price compared to a pet store.
Saving money on dog food
Dog food is by far the main regular expense. Also, you might not want to cut corners, as this will compromise your pooch’s wellbeing. Some of the ways you can save when it comes to dog food include:
Researching before you buy
Contrary to popular belief, expensive dog food is not necessarily the best quality. While there are excellent, expensive dog foods in the market, in most cases, you’ll be just paying extra for the word ‘premium’ on the packaging.
When doing your research, consider brands with the least filler ingredients. This is because fillers will only make your Lab feel full, but they have little or no nutritional value.
Decide you’ll be cooking for your Lab
Cooking is one of the easiest ways of saving money when it comes to dog food. Cooking means that you might need to first educate yourself on what foods to avoid feeding your Labrador as well as the vitamins and nutrients a Labrador needs and what foods are the best sources for such. You might also need to experiment a few times until you find the foods that your new Lab loves best. While you are at it, you might want to consider feeding your Lab with raw diets.
Buy your pet food in bulk
Some people have no time nor inclination to cook for their pets. If you fall into this category, buying your pet food in bulk is a great way of saving money. Also, take advantage of any products on sale or promotions. If you do not fancy the thought of wrestling with huge bags of pet food, find an online pet store that provides free shipping to its clients.
Consider signing up for reward clubs
If you are buying your pet food from the same store for a prolonged time, take advantage of your loyalty by signing up for their reward program.
Take advantage of pet food rebates
Free samples will prove extremely handy when you are learning on your Lab’s likes and dislikes as far as diet is concerned. Normally, new pet food brands and products are accompanied by such. Take advantage of the free samples and feed your new pooch for free as you learn on what you should be feeding him henceforth.
Saving on Veterinary or healthcare costs
The easiest way of avoiding costly trips to your preferred vet once you bring your Lab home is through preventive care. Preventive care means that you will have to observe a healthy diet along with regular exercise. Keep in mind that Labs are feistier compared to other breeds and, thus, might need more exercise. Preventive care also means scheduling regular wellness checks. By scheduling wellness checks, your vet will be able to catch potentially costly health-related issues in your Lab earlier on and also enables you to keep up with parasite treatments and vaccinations.
Getting pet insurance cover on your Lab is another effective way of saving on health-related costs. However, understand what your cover entails before you commit. You can also open a savings account that caters to your Lab’s medical costs.
Vet fees can vary considerably. Therefore, you might need to call several veterinary centers and inquire about the cost of basic services such as shampooing, dental services, lab work, and vaccinations. Once you’ve settled on a vet, use your bargaining prowess to get the best deal.
Most vets offer specials for new patients or people with multiple pets. Before bringing your Lab home, do your research, and take advantage of such offers.
Once your Lab is home, never hesitate from informing your vet that you are working on a strained budget should a health issue arise. Most of them are willing to suggest a payment plan that suits your budget or provide you with discounted services. Taking about your budget does not mean that you do not care for your pet. Rather, it shows that you are financially responsible. Always request that your vet provide you with a written and comprehensive estimate of treating your Lab.
Saving money on pet supplies
Just like any other dog, you will need to buy such items as beddings, collars, crates, leashes, and so on. Some of the ways through which you can save money when it comes to pet supplies include:-
- Buying second-hand items – while it’s nice to buy supplies for your pet, it’s not necessary. You can get all your pet’s supplies from thrift stores or from close friends and family. Compared to buying new items, this is a more sustainable option. However, make sure you clean second-hand items thoroughly using an eco-friendly cleaner.
- Be smart while shopping – when buying pet accessories, most of us are guilty of walking up to the nearest pet store due to convenience. Be smart while shopping for your pet’s supplies by shopping around. Check out non-conventional sources such as a discount or department store. Take advantage of bulk purchase discounts, sales, and any other promotions.
- Try a few DIYs – if you are fond of DIY projects, carve out some time where you can make your own dog furniture and other supplies. Not only does this save you money, but it also gives you a chance to personalize these items. There are plenty of resources on the internet that teach you how to repurpose old furniture or cheap items that you could get from flea markets or yard sales.
You can also cut down on pet supplies by making your Lab’s toys yourself. Tug-of-war is perfect for the energetic Lab. and you can make such from a used fleece blanket.
How to save money on grooming
Every pet owner is proud of a well-groomed dog, but are there alternatives to costly pet spas? Here are a few tips that will help you spend as little as possible when it comes to grooming your Lab.
- Groom him at home – luckily, Labradors are relatively easy to groom. Their coats do not shed as heavily as other breeds, and they need little to no trimming. Your Lab will only need regular brushing to get rid of dead hairs and other things that may cling to his coat.
- Bathe him at home – rather than paying huge amounts of money to have someone shampoo your Lab, consider doing it yourself most of the time. As mentioned, Labs have short fur, which makes shampooing a breeze.
- Avoid pricey grooming products – although cheap grooming products might not be suitable for dogs with sensitive skin, you do not need to go overboard by buying pricey ‘therapeutic’ shampoo. While some pampering every now and again is okay, consider using natural deodorizers such as cornstarch on your Lab’s weekly baths.
- Look out for grooming deals – just like veterinary centers, most grooming stations will be willing to offer discounts to new clients. Feel free to discuss your budget with your groomer and ask for money-saving options going forward. Skimping on extra services such as nail trims could further help you save when it comes to your Lab’s grooming.
Saving money on dog training
Once your Lab is home, they will need to be trained. One of the ways you can save on such is by signing him up for classes if you do not mind him learning alongside other dogs. Compared to private lessons, most dog trainers charge much less for classes.
If you prefer private lessons, consider off-peak ours. For instance, booking your trainer on weekday afternoons may be cheaper as they are lower chances of being booked by other clients then. Also, consider taking your Lab to the trainer as opposed to the trainer coming to your home.
Owning a pet, and particularly a Labrador retriever, is bound to be expensive. Any first-time owner needs to be aware of the extra costs they will be incurring and be sure they are sustainable. However, you do not have to break the bank to maintain your pooch, as is evident from the above tips. We’d love to hear more about your money-saving tips.