All Things Dog

Caring For Your Dog On A Tighter Budget

With a troubled economy, many dog owners are trying to give their pets the best care they can on a tighter budget. For some, it's a matter of simply buying fewer treats and limiting visits to the groomer. But some veterinarians say they're seeing pet owners skipping checkups and scaling back on medications. Yes, this may cut expenses, but it puts their dog at risk.

To some dog owners, it may seem fine to drop heartworm or flea and tick preventives. However, those problems can be much more expensive to treat than to prevent. What's more, infectious diseases and degenerative diseases in dogs—such as heart problems, kidney disease, and arthritis—can go untreated or unnoticed when their owners skip well–pet visits. And waiting until a pet needs emergency care can be far more costly.

The bottom line: keep up with your regular vet visits and look to economize elsewhere. Some ingenuity and these smart shopping tips can help you save money and still give your pets the care they deserve.

Look for discounts and coupons. Dog food coupons are widely available in supermarket mailers and online—and while you may think the couple of dollars of savings does not mean much, the savings do add up. If a catalog has a low price for heartworm or flea and tick preventives, see if your vet will match it.

Consider bartering for pet care services. See if you can swap your talent or services for dog walking or sitting. Or find fellow dog owners who are willing to care for your dog.

Buy in bulk. Look for dog treats and chews from online dog supply catalogs and store them in the freezer until you need them. You'll save money by purchasing a larger quantity of dog food, too. If you have a little dog, keep a small amount out in an airtight container, and keep the rest in an airtight container or sealed heavy-duty trash bag.

Find free or low-cost rabies vaccinations. Look for vaccination days at a pet supply superstore instead of the vet's office. You can also try contacting animal shelters and nonprofit humane societies for spaying, neutering, and other services that they may provide for less than you would pay a vet.

Ask your vet about a payment plan. Vets are typically compassionate people, so don't be afraid to ask if you can work out a weekly or monthly payment plan. Many practitioners are willing to negotiate if you can't afford to take care of the full cost up front.

Groom your pet at home. Save the cost of visits to your groomer with regular brushings. This is also a great way to reduce the amount of dog hair around your home. And learn how to trim your pet's nails on a regular basis. It's not difficult and you may also save your floors and household furnishings in the process.

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