I know pets provide joy and companionship, but I also know that owning a pet can be very expensive. Buying pet food, pet supplies, and paying for veterinary visits can really make a dent in your wallet. Here are a few money saving tips to help you keep pet expenses as low as possible.

Pet Expense Tip #1 – Shop Online for Pet Food

The internet is a great place for saving money on just about anything including pet food and pet supplies. Websites like Petfooddirect.com, Petco.com, Petsmart.com, and even Amazon.com offer a ton of savings on name brand pet food and pet supplies. You can give your pet the very best and save money at the same time if you can find the good deals.

Pet Expense Tip #2 – Take Regular Trips to the Veterinarian

Preventative care can save you thousands in the long run. If I had simply taken my allergy-ridden Pug to a vet when he first started showing symptoms, I could have saved some of the $2000 we poured into bringing him back from the worst allergy attack I’ve ever seen. I would highly suggest taking your pet to a vet annually or at least at the first sign of a problem. For my Pug, I would have been told of a food allergy before having to spend a couple of thousand correcting secondary issues like skin infections.

Pet Expense Tip #3 – Learn How to Groom Your Pet

Pet grooming is a big business today. Many places perform routine services like pet washing, cleaning, and grooming. While these services are great and I personally think they are worth it, all of them can be performed in your own home. Pet cleaning supplies like shampoo and clippers may cost a little up front but can save you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of a pet.

Pet Expense Tip #4 – Skip Pet Sitting Services

Pet sitting services can charge as much as $100 a day to keep an eye on your pet while you are on vacation or on a business trip. Granted, that would be one awesome place, but even the normal $20-$40 a night really adds up.

You may not have a friend or family member lined up that could watch your pet while you are away, but you can easily join or form a group of like-minded pet owners. I’ve seen quite a few pet-swapping groups while looking around on Craigslist and Yahoo Meetup Group boards.

Pet Expense Tip #5 – Spend Time with Your Pet

I understand the urge to hire a dog walker or pay someone else to pick up pet waste, but those services do add up. If you are looking for ways to cut costs, take a look at any extras you may be splurging on that you could drop. Even if you aren’t currently outsourcing any pet duties, you may want to pump up the amount of time you do play with Fido or Fluffy. If you and your pet stay active and happy, you may be able to avoid some medical expenses for both of you in the future.

What other tips can you think of to save money when it comes to pet expenses?