Pet savings - MoneySense

Pet savings

Do you know what Americans spent on pet food in 2010? According to the American Pet Products Association, critters ate up more than $18 billion dollars worth of food last year.

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Holy moley! But we Canadians aren’t as pet-centric as our American cousins, right? Well, when you look at overall spending, maybe we are. Americans spend about $38 billion on their pets and we spend about $4 billion on our pets. Since we’re about 1/10th the size in population, hey, we’re pretty on par with our American cousins.

The pet biz is one of the fastest growing industries and we’re shelling out mega-bucks to keep our dogs dapper and our kitties cute. That’s all fine if you’ve got the money to spend AND you’re saving all that you should. But if your dog, cat, budgie, fish, or tarantula are eating into your savings, you need to review your priorities.

A bag of pet food can cost anywhere from about $6 to about $75, depending on where you buy it, how big the bag is, and how “premium” the ingredients are.  And the pet food industry has a bad reputation for putting crap in the food they want us to feed our cuddly companions. But do you really have to buy a six-star premium dog food when it may mean you end up eating a two-star rated diet when retirement rolls around? Mightn’t a mid-price range product be a better investment in both your pet and your future?

Of course, that may mean you actually have to do some work in figuring out what to buy, as opposed to using the price point to direct you to the good stuff. So what should you look for?

  • A recognizable meat product as the first ingredient.
  • Higher quality carbs like potatoes and whole grains as filler.
  • No byproducts, and no artificial chemicals or preservatives like Yellow #5, BHA or ethoxyquin.

Buying in bulk, shopping on sale, and using coupons are all ways to save on the cost of caring for your Sweet Little Poopster. If you’re currently spending $60 a week on food, and you can trim that back by 20%, you’ll have $624 to add to your retirement plan this year. Over 30 years at 5%, that’ll net you over $43,000 in money to ensure you can eat as well as your cat.

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