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How to Save Money on Dog Expenses

It can be hard to provide for your best friend during tough times, but these 5 tips can help.

 |  Apr 16th 2014  |   15 Contributions


Times are tough. Most of us are working hard just to make ends meet. With so little wiggle room in the budget, you may feel pressured when it comes to providing for your best friend. Some people may even view your pet as a luxury you can't afford. Before you do something drastic, here's some tips on how to save money and keep your dog.

1. Skip the groomer

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A daily walk - free, fun, and good for you both!

There may be some dogs who absolutely have to go to a groomer, but most dogs can be groomed at home. A pair of decent clippers are about $30 and will pay for themselves with the very first use. YouTube is your best friend on learning how to use clippers and perform other grooming needs, such as clip nails and brush out long coats. A simple routine of a bi-weekly or monthly bath (depending on your dog's skin/fur needs), regular brushing, and weekly to bi-weekly nail trims (depending on growth) will keep your dog looking good without the price tag. You can even make it fun, like a spa day!

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Even short-haired dogs have grooming needs. Regular brushing and routine nail trims keeps Axle looking good.

2. Save money on food

Take advantage of coupons, loyalty rewards, and special sales. You usually get a better price if you buy the biggest bag available, but to make sure, divide the price by the pounds in the bag. Buy the size bag with the lowest price per pound to save money. Those few cents will add up! If you find that you can't afford the dog food you have been using, you may want to switch to a cheaper food. However, just because you decide to buy a cheaper dog food doesn't mean you have to sacrifice quality. Dog Food Advisor offers a guide to the ingredients and quality of most of the dog foods available on the market today.

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Mmmmm, chow.

3. Lower your vet bills

I have to put in a disclaimer here: I'm not a vet, and I'm not trying to give you veterinary advice. I'm just offering ideas on how to save money in a bad economy. Your dog's health is still ultimately your responsibility. That being said, you can lower your vet bills by reducing the number of times you go. If your dog is otherwise healthy, up to date on necessary vaccines and on regular heartworm preventative, you can probably forgo the six-month checkup in favor of a yearly exam. Your vet may also offer financial assistance -- it never hurts to ask! Pet insurance is another option that may help you save money, especially if you have a dog that you know will have a lot of medical needs as they age, such as English Bulldogs

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Axle has been using the same bed for 3 years.

4. Get creative

Dogs don't need a lot of complicated or colorful toys. They have drives and needs that can be satisfied with something you made yourself just as easily as something you bought in the store. Knotted old towels, empty soda bottles and homemade flirt poles all make excellent DIY dog toys.

Your dog also doesn't need a store-bought bed. I know, all of those beds in the stores are cute and comfy, but you can make your own for just a fraction of the cost. YouTube, Pinterest, and Dogster offer some great tutorials on how to make your own dog bed. If you just have to have one of the store versions, check secondhand stores, yard sales, and even fundraising auctions for dog-related groups. These sources often have new or gently used dog beds and they price them much lower than retail. Just be sure and wash anything used before giving it to your dog.

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Playing with your dog is great bonding time, not to mention exercise!

5. Get active

Your dog needs exercise. If possible, save money by skipping the dogwalker and taking your pooch out yourself. Not only will your dog enjoy this special time with you, you'll both be getting the added benefits of exercise and fresh air! You know those toys you made? Now's the time to put them in action! Toss them around for a game of fetch, get down with a game of tug-of-war, or hide them around the house for an exciting round of hide-and-seek. Playing with your dog reduces anxiety and increases their general well-being, which means a healthier, happier dog.  

What sort of money-saving tips have helped you and your dog? Let me know in the comments!

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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it's in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I'm a former quiet nerd who's turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.

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