|Our dog, Prince, with his rubber chicken.|
Owning a pet is a lot like having a child. It isn't cheap. People sometimes splurge on their pets out of love on luxuries that they really can't afford. After all, your pet is just as much part of the family as your kids or spouse. There is nothing wrong with spoiling your pooch or pet with frivolous things if you have the money. When it comes down to it though, all your pet really needs is regular interaction with you, exercise, a nutritious diet, and preventive care. Here are some frugal dog/pet tips to save some cash and still keep your pet healthy and happy.
- Rescue a pet. Finding the perfect pet is a daunting task sometimes. Ask a lot of questions and do your research. Look to rescuing a pet from a shelter or pound instead of buying a pet from a breeder. Usually doing so will save you money and give a pet in need a good home. Other places you could look are Craigslist and Freecycle. We found our dog using Petfinder and got our dog, Prince, at a shelter. We were looking for a dog that was great with kids and was part poodle because they are usually hypoallergenic. Prince is a large standard poodle/coon hound mix. We had a long drive to get him because the shelter that had him wasn't as local, but he was worth it.
- Spend time with your pet. Give your pet the much needed attention it deserves. Scratch it behind the ears or stroke its fur. Take your dog to the park, dog park, on a walk around the block, or play fetch. Interaction and exercise is a wonderful part of the equation to keeping your pet healthy and happy. This is cheaper than buying your pet lots of toys or taking it to the pet spa.
- Use alternatives to expensive treats. If you use praise or positive reinforcement verbally or with positive contact (or both) you might be able to cut down on the number of treats you give your pet. Alternatively there are fruits and veggies you can safely feed your pet for treats. You can also make your own pet treats as there are a number of recipes online using ingredients that you probably already have around the house.
- Give your pet a nutritious diet. Pick a pet food that your pet likes. If your pet doesn't like it, they won't eat it. Don't skimp on quality and get one without the fillers and extra ingredients you can't pronounce. Fillers usually cause gastric and bowel problems. Buy in bulk, it is usually cheaper in the long run. Use coupons or gift cards! Don't overfeed your pet. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and other health problems for your pet. There are also people foods that should be avoided for pets at all costs.
- Use preventative care. Know how to care for your pet and give your pet what they really need. Keep your pet's vaccines, medication, and veterinary checkups current and up to date. Keep their heartworm, flea and tick medication up to date. Practice good hygiene and exercise with your pet. You can bathe, brush teeth, groom and clip your pet's nails, etc. all yourself at home instead of taking them to an pricey groomer, spa, salon or boutique. With a pet clipper and practice you will become a pro. Also, spay or neuter your pet, as this also reduces potential medical expenses.
- Keep a pet savings account or buy insurance. It is cheaper than pet insurance. However; if you can afford insurance it would be wise to keep it for your pet just in case an emergency arises. Then you won't have to pay all that money for vet bills out of pocket all of a sudden. If you do get insurance know what you are paying for, read the fine print before signing up and shop around to find the best deal for the most benefits. Also make sure your current vet accepts the insurance you pick. Pet insurance is sometimes the more economical way to go.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose. The best pet product doesn't have to be the most expensive one. Old holey socks tied in a knot or a good stick are great tug of war/fetch implements. Other things can be used or reused for a pet purpose instead of what they are currently being used or not being used for. Look around and think outside the box. Thrift store finds are great!
- Find a pet sitter. When you have to leave your pet at home for an extended amount of time finding a reliable, caring and affordable pet sitter close to you is key. Doggie Daycare might not be as cost-effective. If you have a friend or relative that can watch you pet for little to nothing and does a good job that is the best situation. If you don't have those options you can try DogVacay or a similar service. Also you could try finding one through the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters or Pet Sitters International. They might have affordable pet sitters that you can try in your area.
- Go on a pet included vacation. If your having trouble finding a good pet sitter maybe you could take your pet with you. Just make sure the places you book are pet friendly. There are a lot of pet friendly hotels: motels, rentals, attractions, restaurants, etc. out there that offer options. If you don't know, ask ahead! We went on a long road trip across the USA with our dog, Prince. It was a lot of fun and he enjoyed all the time he spent with us along the way. You can also purchase a Traveling with Your Pet guide by AAA to help you on your travels.