A dog, a toy terrier, a stylishly dressed
Mariana Mikhailova/istockphoto

20 Ways People Waste Money on Pets

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A dog, a toy terrier, a stylishly dressed
Mariana Mikhailova/istockphoto

No Spoiling the Animals

Pets are much-loved members of many families. They're also big business. The American Pet Products Association estimates that pet owners spend nearly $60 billion a year on their furry friends. Although it's fun to treat Fluffy and Fido to the best — and lots of it — if frugality is the order of the day, there are many items that simply aren't necessary when welcoming a pet into the home.


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Weebo Pets Cotton Flossin' Rope Bone Dog Toy
Amazon

Toys and More Toys

There's no need to go crazy buying bucketsful of toys for a new pet, especially when it's not clear what they will enjoy. A few playthings will do. Top choices for nearly all dogs: a plush toy (about $4), a ball for fetching, a chew toy ($8), and a tug toy. (Owners might also try making their own.) Cats will be happy with a string toy (about $3) and little balls to chase.


Related: Cheap Chew Toys Your Dog Will Dig

Expensive Bed
Neiman Marcus

Expensive Bed

Whether the new pet is a pup or full-grown adult, a fancy bed isn't worth the price. Puppies chew and rip all kinds of things, as do untrained older dogs. And don't forget the potential housebreaking accidents that are so common at the beginning of pet ownership. Which all are good reasons why it's a waste to spend a fortune on a Casablanca Dog Bed ($2,000 from Neiman Marcus) or even far less expensive versions. Go cheap with a DIY bed — numerous Pinterest boards are devoted to fashioning pet beds.


Related: Stylish Pet Products You Won't Be Ashamed to Own

cute dachshund dog, black and tan, dressed in a yellow rain coat stands in a puddle on a city street
Ирина Мещерякова/istockphoto

Pet Clothing

Dressing up a pet can be loads of fun — for humans. But budget-conscious pet owners are better off sticking to the essentials. A winter sweater or coat for a small or short-haired dog can be found for as little as $10. Besides, some animals may flat out refuse to wear clothing, leaving the owner with a closetful of unworn outfits.


Related: Adorable Photos of Patriotic Pets

Cheap Treats
K_attapon/shutterstock

Cheap Treats

Buying expensive treats to save money may sound counterintuitive, but many cheap treats are filled with hard-to-pronounce ingredients that may cause stomach distress for a pet, leading to expensive vet bills. Corn syrup, for example, is one of the main ingredients in some treats and, as with humans, does nothing for an animal's nutrition.


Related: Easy Dog Treat Recipes That Will Save You Money

Disposable Wipes
CiydemImages/istockphoto

Paw Wipes

Forget paying extra for specially formulated paw wipes ($22 for 200) to use after walking a pooch through mud and over wintertime's salt-strewn sidewalks. Generic baby wipes will get an animal's paws just as clean. Cheaper yet is any old washcloth dunked in a little dog shampoo.


Related: Companies Where You Can Bring Your Dog To Work

DII Bone Dry Microfiber Pet Bath Towel
Amazon

Special Drying Towels

There's absolutely no need to buy bathing towels designed specifically for dogs. A microfiber towel decorated with a paw print ($12 and up) is a cute but unnecessary expense when any old towel is just as useful for drying Fido after a bath.


Related: Gift Ideas for the Dog in Your Life

Furniture Deterrents
Yimmyphotography/shutterstock
Edible Lawn Protector
Kittibowornphatnon/shutterstock

Edible Lawn Protector

Dog urine can create yellow spots in a lawn. But giving the animal a chewable tablet that alters the chemical composition of the urine is not a good idea, according to experts on animal health. Instead, train the dog not to pee in certain areas — or consider an imperfect lawn a small price to pay for a pet's love.


Related: How to Stop Spending $400 a Year on Your Lawn and Garden

Steps or Ramps
Amazon

Steps or Ramps

Most dogs and cats figure out easily how to reach whatever perch catches their eye. Steps or ramps are useless, unless the pet is elderly or immobile, and can be expensive ($130).  Try a DIY option from Instructables or just set out a plank of wood (sanded to prevent splinters).


Related: Things You Didn't Know About Dogs

Happy young black and white Greyster dog posing outdoors wearing a red collar with a yellow GPS tracker on it lying down in a green grass with yellow flowers in summer
Eudyptula/istockphoto
Outward Hound Dog Treat Puzzle
Amazon

Pet Wi-Fi Camera

Some pet owners are willing to drop hundreds of dollars on a Wi-Fi pet camera to monitor their pet's every move. Really? Giving a dog plenty of exercise, especially before leaving home, is a thriftier way to keep the animal calm. A treat-finder puzzle ($18) can alleviate boredom. Cats, on the other hand, are probably thrilled to have the house to themselves.


Related: The Coolest Pet Tech Devices You Didn't Know You Needed

Variety of Food Bowls
Ti Santi/shutterstock

Variety of Food Bowls

One bowl for food and another for water is plenty. Don't waste money on bowls with cute decorations (the pet won't notice) or with some special purpose, such as encouraging slow eating or saving the effort of angling down for chow, unless this is recommended by a vet.


Related: The Best Cheap Dog Food

Multiple Training Tools
miroha141/shutterstock

Multiple Training Tools

Martingales, halters, gentle leaders — there are many ways to control a dog that pulls on leash. But there's no point buying without knowing more about the pet's temperament. Working with a trainer who can offer a recommendation costs money upfront but helps save money on wasted purchases.


Related: How to Train Your Dog for Less

Collars and Leashes in Excess
Shining stars/shutterstock
Posing Great Dane
gsagi/istockphoto

Nail Polish

Putting human nail polish on a pet is not advisable, as it may contain toxins known to present possible health risks. Although there are polishes meant for animals, this is needless adornment.


Related: The Most Expensive Pets Money Can Buy

Adult cat and kitten on the window sill. The rays of the spring sun
kozorog/istockphoto

Pet Entertainment

There have been countless DVDs marketed promising to capture pets' attention, and DogTV says it can help dogs suffering from loneliness, boredom, separation anxiety, or depression for around $10 a month. But entertainment extras for well-adjusted pets are an unnecessary expense. Dogs can stay very busy for quite a while with a simple Kong toy ($8.50) filled with a treat. Cats enjoy a perch ($20) placed near a window with a good view of greenery and birds — and sometimes an existing shelf, desk, or chair does the trick.


Related: Dogs With Jobs More Important Than Yours

Vitamins
Jaromir Chalabala/shutterstock
Professional Groomer
WilleeCole Photography/shutterstock

Professional Groomer

Professional grooming is a luxury for pets and owners, but some breeds can easily be groomed at home. Check out the many YouTube videos that provide instruction on everything from proper bathing to trimming nails. For breeds with constant hair growth, such as poodles and bichons, learning to do touch-ups on the face or paws between professional grooming sessions can save big bucks.


Related: Unexpected Jobs for Animal Lovers

Pet Stroller
Blanscape/shutterstock

Pet Stroller

So long as they aren't elderly and immobile, dogs need exercise every day for sound physical and emotional health. Setting the pet in a stroller (which can cost into the hundreds of dollars) short-circuits that objective. Cats, meanwhile, are likely to experience being enclosed in a stroller as stressful rather than enjoyable.


Related: Pet Subscription Boxes Your Pup Will Love

Adjustable Dog Umbrella
Amazon

Dog Umbrella

We know taking the dog out in pouring rain doesn't seem fun for anyone. But really, it's okay for your dog to get wet when they go to the bathroom. They don't need their own wearable umbrella


Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor


Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to three fiduciary financial advisors in your area in five minutes.


Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.