HELPING HAND: Petbarn assistant store manager Valerie Verma enjoying the view of her favourite pets.
HELPING HAND: Petbarn assistant store manager Valerie Verma enjoying the view of her favourite pets. Marc Stapelberg

Furry and fluffy not the best choice for budget pet care

SAVING money on your pet begins with purchasing the right animal to fit your household budget - and there's plenty of options besides dogs and cats.

In fact the most cost-effective pet is the humble hermit crab, according to PetBarn Lismore manager Meredith Gallanty.

Ms Gallanty said a family of hermit crabs would feel more than comfortable in a home costing as little as $100, and they require very little ongoing investment.

An added bonus is the daily maintenance routine takes less than five minutes.

Next on the affordable scale were small mammals such as mice and rats (they're also known as gentle, friendly, and curious pets) followed by budgies and canaries.

A small budgie cage suitable for hand-rearing (regularly releasing the bird to fly around the home) can be bought for just $50.

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But for those dog or cat-loving tragics, or if the kids are simply set on having that adorable puppy, there's still plenty of ways to save.

Being frugal about pet care is a double-edged sword, however - try to cut too much off your budget and you might end up with a costly visit to the vet.

"The best way to save money when you're taking care of your pets is keep their overall health good to avoid big vet bills," Ms Gallantry explained.

"We're talking about feeding high quality nutrition; even though the bag price might be a little higher, you feed less of the high quality than the low quality so the bag goes further."

Bulk buying food is key.

Another great recommendation for dogs is buying a $60 tick collar or $20 tick medication every four to six weeks to prevent a nasty paralysis tick which could otherwise cost up to $1500 in vet care.

Another must for canine care is regular grooming, which helps and prevents skin conditions and much cheaper to prevent than treat at the vet.

Ms Gallantry said going to a pet speciality store had side benefits that couldn't be gained from buying your pet goods at the local supermarket.

"We don't replace veterinary care but if it's a common problem we can give advice and certainly help with preventing problems," she said.

PetBarn does occasional flash sales in which prices are heavily discounted and offers a loyalty program with every 11th bag of food free, among other benefits.


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