This is the second part of a two-part series on how to save a little cash on your furry friends. To start from the beginning, check out Part One: 10 Ways to save money on your pet.

Let’s continue on with the final five ways to save money on your pets.

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6. Make your own pet food?

I make a lot of my own pet food. Sure, there are days when I put a little bit of quality dry kibble into the mix. But for the most part, my dog eats a Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet which consists of a lot of raw meat and organs, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. It’s not for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t call this type of dog chow cheap.

I started rethinking packaged pet food in 2007 after the massive pet food recall in Canada and the United States. Many dogs and cats became ill and died after adulterated wheat gluten was found in several brands of pet food. Watching families lose their pets was heartbreaking, and I’m fortunate that my dog was not fed this food.

Switching to a raw dog food diet was easy for my family. Since we live on an organic cattle ranch, sourcing quality organ meat is generally inexpensive (if not free). This probably won’t be the case for you though.

Want to see the meaty math? The Mint Blog makes the case for homemade pet chow in Does it Pay to Make Your Own Pet Food?, and offers up these dietary numbers:

“A balanced, home-cooked diet for a 30-pound dog would cost $3.52 per day; $5.58 if you go organic. That’s two to four times the price of commercial dry dog foods of similar qualities, but up to half the cost of commercial wet foods.” — Dr. Jules Benson, vice president Petplan

If going raw is not for you or your budget, try these tips to keep pet food costs from wagging your wallet:

  • Shop at a farm supply store. Farm stores generally sell high quality pet foods for at least 15% less than retail stores. Farm suppliers sell in bulk and without fancy packaging, so don’t expect resealable bags and fancy brand names! Be sure to bring a car with a sizable trunk.
  • Skip wet pet food, buy dry. Wet pet food is pricey! To cut your costs per serving in half, opt for dry kibble that’s high in protein and low in corn and grains (if any at all). Many pet owners claim that dry food keeps their pets fuller for longer, so you can feed your furry friend a little bit less.
  • Buy the largest bag. If your pet is accustomed to a certain brand of chow, go ahead and buy the biggest bag to save a few bucks. Most stores offer a 5% to 10% savings on volume bags for budget-conscious shoppers.

Bottom Line: A BARF dog food diet for a 30 pound canine costs $3.52 per day and adds up to a hefty $1,285 per year. But if you’re feeding commercial wet foods to your pet, then a homemade diet can cut your costs in half. Switching from wet to dry pet food can also cut your food costs by over 50 percent. Lastly, feeding your pet quality ingredients might prolong the life of the animal while reducing vet bills due to illness. You are what you eat, right?

7. Get your pet fixed. Yes, FIXED!

Does your macho male dog really need that big set of balls? Do you want your female cat to go into heat? Keeping one pet is fun, but caring for a litter of little ones (and finding homes for them) can get expensive, fast. With many thousands of unwanted animals put down by shelters each year, be a responsible pet owner and help control the pet population (Yeah, I watched a lot of Bob Barker and The Price is Right as a kid). Anyways, spaying and neutering early may also help minimize your vet costs down the road by helping to decrease the odds of infection and illness in older animals.

Bottom line: Litters of puppies or kittens can be cute, but costly when you add up vet bills and the challenge of finding homes for them. Spend a little money now by spaying or neutering your pet to save some cash in the future. Pets adopted from your local shelter may already be fixed, so you’re saving money while saving the life of an animal. Kudos.

8. Shop around for a veterinarian.

Don’t be afraid to call up and few vets and inquire into their common check-up fees and overnight stay charges. Asking is free! Not all veterinarians charge the same, nor do they all provide the same level of service. When looking for a veterinarian, try to meet with a few in your area, and ask neighbors and friends for vet recommendations, what they think of the vet, and what the vet charges. Doing your research before your pet needs medical attention is the best way to prevent surprises later when you get the bill.

Bottom line: Do your research and find a veterinarian you can trust to provide your animal with the best care, while not overcharging you. You may save yourself thousands in pet care costs by finding the right vet for your pet and pocketbook.

9. Only vaccinate if necessary.

Common wisdom holds that pets should get their shots every year, but check with your veterinarian to determine what shots are actually necessary for the life your pet leads, and if they need to be applied yearly. For example, some types of rabies vaccination are needed only every three years, and may be completely unnecessary in areas of the country where rabies is non-existent.

Bottom line: By limiting vaccinations to the required amount, you could save $50 or more each year.

10. Save those medical devices.

Has your pet ever come home from the vet with a cone head? Yeah, those medical devices designed to prevent licking sure do look funny, but they cost a small fortune! At $50 a cone (depending on the size of your animal), a pet medical device like an Elizabethan collar can be costly, especially if you toss it only to need it again later for another incident or even another pet. When your pet is done with his cone, keep the device clean by wiping with a light bleach solution and store it in a safe place — you never know if you’ll need it again!

Bottom line: Keeping Elizabethan collars and other pet medical accessories could save you at least $50 each time your pet returns from surgery.

Don’t miss the first part in this doggone series: Part One: 10 Ways to save money on your pet.

Your Thoughts: Have you made pet food, shopped around for vets, or fixed your pet to save money? What’s your best tip for saving money on your furry friends?