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In 2012, there were approximately 164 million pets living in households across America. Sixty-two percent of households in the US had at least one pet, and those households spent over $50 billion on their various furry companions.

Owning a pet (or being owned by a pet, depending on your point of view) can be a joyful experience for all, but the cost of owning a pet can really do a number on your budget. 

If you already own a pet, or are considering adopting a pet into your family, you can benefit from the following tips on how to cut back on the expense.

Research the type of pet you want. When selecting the right pet for your lifestyle and your budget, research is important. Certain types and breeds of pets are pricier than others. Take into consideration the cost of food, grooming costs, and whether the particular breed has any potential health concerns that may cost you at the veterinarian’s office. An animal's temperment is another factor. Can you afford to provide your pet with the kind of activities and stimulation it will need to thrive?

Adopt from a shelter. Adopting an animal from a shelter can be rewarding for you and your wallet. Often, shelter animals have a much smaller price tag than an animal from a breeder. Shelters will often spay or neuter the animal, as well as give any needed vaccines for a fraction of the price a veterinarian would charge. Strongly consider adopting senior pets in need of a good home. Many shelters and adoption programs often free or subsidized healthcare assistance for senior pets.

Groom at home. If your pet requires frequent grooming, consider purchasing some starter supplies and taking on the challenge. Grooming your pet helps you and your animal bond, plus, you forgo money spent at the groomer. One golden retriever owner calculated a savings of $623 per year by grooming at home rather than taking his pup to a professional.

Get the right kind of food. Just like with people food, striking the right balance between nutrition and price can be tricky. The cheapest pet food may contain unhealthy fillers, resulting in more trips to the vet over the pet’s lifetime. The highest quality pet food, however, is also a poor choice if you cannot afford it. The perfect food for your pet is one that balances your pet’s health and your financial well-being.

Keep your pet safe. While veterinary checkups are always recommended, you can avoid unnecessary trips to the vet by making sure your pet is in a safe environment. Keep cats indoors and dogs in fenced-in areas or leashed to avoid injury from cars and other animals.

Keep your pet healthy. Make sure your pet's exercise needs are being met and their shots are up-to-date. Just like with humans, it's cheaper to prevent a medical emergency than it is to treat one.

Find inexpensive lodging for your fur-friends. Boarding your pets can be expensive. Minimize that cost by making pet-sitting a community endeavor and trading pet watching services with your neighbors. If you don't know your neighbors all that well, you can use peer-to-peer sharing sites like Rover.com and DogVacay.com to find folks in the area who are happy to watch your pets for a lot less than what the kennel charges.   

Pet ownership does not have to be a huge strain on your finances. Implementing a few money-savvy strategies into your budget can make pet ownership a rewarding experience.