Take a bite out of dog care costs

Even if he’s not sporting a designer collar or attending doggie day care, owning a dog today can become costly. As your dog ages, you may incur added expenses due to increased veterinary care, special medications and other geriatric needs. Here are 10 simple tips.

1. Go to the vet.. Preventative veterinary care is the single most important way to keep pet care costs in check. Annual veterinary exams can catch health problems early on, which could save you a lot of time and money. This includes heartworm preventative treatment, flea and tick control, and a thorough check up of your pet’s gums, teeth, heart, lungs and internal organs. If it’s been a year or more since your pet has been to a vet, make an appointment today. 

2. Buy the largest size food available.. You’ll save money by purchasing a larger quantity. If you have a small dog, keep a small amount out in an airtight container, and keep the rest in an airtight container or sealed heavy-duty plastic bag inside a garbage can. Or better yet, keep it in the freezer.  

 3. Don’t overfeed.. Many dog owners simply overfeed their pets, which has resulted in a growing obesity problem nationwide. Serving moderate portions and limiting treats not only saves you money, it will keep your dog healthier. 

 4. Invest in training.. You may not think of obedience training as a money-saver but consider this: a well-trained dog will be easier to walk and less likely to get into things he shouldn’t. The cost of teaching your dog to stay by your side and to come when called is far less than emergency care caused by his running in front of a car or eating something harmful.

5. Trade with a friend for dog sitting.. The cost of dog-sitting services or kennels quickly adds up. If you can’t find a friend with a pet, trade some other service such as running errands or cooking dinner. Or you may know a non-dog owner who’s happy to take care of your dog while you’re away.  

6. Watch for money-saving promotions.. Many veterinary hospitals may offer specials on vaccinations likewise, look around for reduced prices on food and dental care.  

7. Consider pet insurance.. There’s no doubt about it, medical care has become expensive. This is due in part to the array of procedures your pet can now undergo, including MRIs, CT scans and cancer treatments. Accidents can be very costly, too. Pet insurance is one way to reduce your out-of-pocket costs. A typical policy usually runs about $300 to $400 per year and many cover both regular and emergency visits. 

 8. Save for the future.. Pets are living longer, thanks to better nutrition and veterinary care. But this often means more frequent trips to the vet, special food and medication. In addition, caring for your pet at death could cost between $300 and $1,000, depending upon the services you choose. To avoid being faced with bills you can’t manage, start putting money aside on a regular basis.  

9. Shop around for medications.. Call your local pharmacy or look online for lower prices. Just be sure to compare the same quantities and dosages when you’re looking at prices.  

10. Do your own grooming.. Save the cost of visits to your groomer by routinely brushing and bathing your dog at home. Plus, you’ll also reduce the hair around your house. 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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